OK, so you’ve stuck with your karate training for a couple of months already. You enjoy learning all of the punches, kicks and blocks, you’ve learned your first kata and you also know some basic partner work drills. It’s time to try for your next belt and for some reason it feels like a wave of fear has suddenly come over you that is threatening your future in the martial arts.
You know you have to take a belt test (also called promotion test or grading) to get the next belt and you want to be successful, but suddenly your previous fear of public speaking seems insignificant compared to the prospect of demonstrating your karate prowess in front of your instructor and fellow club members. Can you do it? Will you pass? How do you get past your fears and take the first step to success and progress up the belt ladder?
If this sounds like something you’ve been through before or something that you are experiencing now then keep reading.
The fear of taking a karate test is a real one, but don’t make the mistake of blowing the test out of proportion. Remember this is just a test and whether you pass or fail, it does not have to be the beginning or end of your karate practice. Let me give you some simple tips for dealing with the pressure and anxiety of your first belt test.
Tip #1: Put things into perspective
If you look at your progression from white to black belt in karate as a journey, then your individual belt tests are simply checkpoints . These checkpoints give you a chance to see how far you’ve come, how far you still have to go and to allow yourself the chance to enjoy the fact that you’ve gotten this far. It’s really that simple. Don’t make your belt test more than it is. Nobody will ask you how you did on your yellow belt test once you are a black belt!
Tip #2: Find out what you will be tested on
This is crucial. You must know what you will be tested on. This again is like the old analogy of if you don’t know where you’re going then how will you know how to get there? Knowing what the required content is for the next belt is like buying a map and planning your route from one destination to the next.
Tip #3: Start preparing for your test in advance
This should go without saying, but many people leave everything to the last minute when it comes to testing. Give yourself the best chance possible by writing your test date on your calendar, finding out the requirements of the test (see #2) and then practicing the things that you need to practice.
Tip #4: Get a good night’s sleep before your test and do something relaxing on test day
Again, this is a no-brainer and is the same advice given to any student studying for any test. Karate is no different. So get a good night’s sleep and then read a book, go for a walk, listen to some music, meditate. Do whatever it is that calms you down and helps you to focus your mind. If you know in advance that you will have to work all day or do something else that might be stressful on the day of your test, then plan for that in advance and set aside 10 minutes after you finish work to sit quietly and regroup before you go home and put on your karate uniform. Even 10 minutes of calm is better than none when it comes to preparation.
Tip #5: Don’t take yourself too seriously
You are taking your yellow belt test (or your orange or your green, or your black belt.) Whatever belt you are taking, I’m sure it means a lot to you and you want to pass. If you didn’t want to pass your belt then you would have no reason to take the test in the first place. What’s more, your instructor usually will have recommended that you are ready for testing. This means that if you do your best and do what you do in class, with the extra intensity that comes with adrenaline, then you will more than likely pass your test.
Don’t create any more unnecessary obstacles for yourself. You fulfilled the minimum time requirement, you know the material to be tested, you have prepared in advance, you got a good night’s sleep, and your instructor thinks you have the ability to pass. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Get your uniform on, tie your soon-to-be-old belt and get to your karate school!
Good luck on your belt test. Believe it and you will achieve it!
Good luck and best wishes on your journey in karate.