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Testing – What is testing in the martial arts really about?

Testing is a part of life and in the martial arts, it can be particularly grueling.  The nerves, the physical exertion and exhaustion, being in the spotlight, special guests coming to administer the test (Thank you Sifu Tom) it can be a lot to handle.  Some students have cried during their test, others have excused themselves (thank you for that) and spent some time in the bathroom refunding the meal they should not have eaten before the test.  We clean up blood, sweat, and tears from the mats, but I have to draw the line at puke.  Why do we put ourselves through these tests?  Just to get rank?  There is more to it than that.

Testing: Al gets another stripe

Testing: Al gets another stripe

Recent Testing at SMAA

There have been recent tests at SMAA and all have been successful.  In Wing Chun congratulations go out to Sihing Al Knight for passing his Level 5 Grade 1 Light Brown Sash test. He sparred 3 fresh opponents After his test. … and Sifu Anthony was one of them.  Yikes!  I have seen Sifu Anthony spar and he is a relentless beast.  Lucy Han ACED her Level 2 Grade 2 Teal Sash test. Next stop… Level 3 Blue.  And congratulations to Jacob Devine on passing his Level 2 Teal Sash today. Great work young man!!

And in Jeet Kune Do, congratulations to Collins Van Gorden who passed his White Sash Second Stripe. Collins is one of the most consistent people we have in his attendance of class, and when he is there his work ethic is outstanding, and it served him well on this test. We do not start most tests with 40 Burpees before actually beginning testing the physical requirements, (thank you Sihing Montell), but we know Collins likes a challenge. Great work sir!  And Riley Notarthomas who passed his Blue Sash in JKD.  Riley put in a lot of time and hard work to get to this point, and on test day it all paid off! Riley is living proof, you consistently make the efforts, and you earn the rewards. We’re proud of you young man!

Testing – Why is it so hard?

But these successful outcomes are not always the case.  Just because you are testing it is not a foregone conclusion that you will pass.  You have to bring it. You have to show your Sifu and the panel of judges that you not only know the material, but can perform it at level.

Testing shows you what you can do

Testing shows you what you can do

Your Sifu and senior students will give you everything you need to be successful and they support you, but it is up to you to pass the test.  Sifu cannot do one push-up for you, he cannot do any burpees for you, but he is there rooting for you and encouraging you.  Your brothers and sisters who come to the test are there to support you and encourage you.

You may be on the mat by yourself, but you are not alone.

Your Sifu is there to push you and show you what YOU can do.  These tests are hard on purpose.  They are meant to help you grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  When I first started training with Sifu Eric I could not do anything.  I did not even know how to make a proper fist and I never thought I would get out of the back row.  But I kept coming to class.  I kept working.  I kept training.  Every single one of my tests were difficult, harder than I thought they would be.  But the fact that they were difficult and I passed makes each and every one more valuable.  I know I did everything, everything that was required and not just the physical or technical requirements, but also the mental aspects of training.  Some of those drills were physically and mentally grueling.  But I also learned that I have heart.  I am not someone who gives up when things get tough.

Testing is suppose to be difficult

Testing is suppose to be difficult

Testing – Upcoming Green Sash Test

There is a Jeet Kune Do Green Sash test tomorrow and Friday.  This is a two day, physically and mentally challenging test.  This is the test that Sifu Tom made me see stars like a cartoon character.   This test is one of the most difficult tests we have and it is difficult on purpose.  This is the test that separates those who dabble from those who are serious about making a commitment to making martial arts.  It separates those who just thought it would be fun from those have a deeper understanding of what training in the martial arts can do for your life.  This is the test that opens the door to other aspects of martial arts, like energy and qi.

Not everyone makes it, but that is where you have a chance to do something great.  This is what the martial arts is about: Getting you to face challenges and overcome them, what ever they are.  Martial arts training and testing is hard on purpose.  It is meant to help you grow and be more than you were when you started this journey.

Good luck to Seth and Karl as they face the Green Test Challenge.

Word of advice to Seth & Karl: When you think you are done and cannot do anymore, remember that you have only used about 40% of what you can do.


Jeanne started her martial arts training later in life and has been training at SMAA for over 10 years. She likes all aspects of the martial arts from the physical challenges to the spiritual pursuits of martial etiquette and virtue. She has a master degree in marketing and is currently working on her MBA.

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