3 Days Before the Test - Thoughts and Advice

When the countdown reached 7 days, I couldn't believe that my test was only a week away. Now it's 3 days until d-day. 3 days! That means that today, Thursday, and Friday are all I have left until test day.

I've been to two 1st dan tests before. The first was in 2008 when I was a blue belt, and the second was in 2010 when I was a brown belt. My test is in 2012. It seems as though we're starting a two year trend. Before 2008 though, I'm not sure when the last 1st dan test was. Both the 2008 and 2010 tests were students from our sister school. It's been several years since we've had a black belt test here.

Which also leads me to believe that come Saturday, there's going to be a crowd. Normally, we have between two and six instructors who come to class regularly. I'm guessing there's going to be a minimum of twelve, which includes the grandmaster of the association. Then there's the possibility of more black belts, since the whole organization has been invited.

Plus a few guest black belts from other schools....and students from our kids class and adult class....and students from our sister class.....and quite a few family and friends who I've invited....and of course, the only one who will be out on the floor, having everybody watch her every move like a hawk? That's right. Me.

No pressure, right?

I've known for a while just what the black belt test is like, but no black belt test is the same. Our black belt tests are tailored specifically to the person. You could say that the flavor of each test is different. It's all ice cream, but the flavors are different. One of the black belts is in charge of coming up with the itinerary. Or should I say "The Itinerary from Hell." I know the bare minimum of what's on that itinerary. I will have to demonstrate my forms, kicks, self defense, sparring, 1-steps, and there will be a teaching section and questions (of what nature I don't know).

That's the minimum. Mr. G told me months ago that Ms. J.S. was in charge of the itinerary. A few weeks ago, he comes up to me and tells me that he's seen a copy of it. I waited for further explanation and he told me that "You won't be bored during the test" (that was a given) and "There's a lot of surprises - lots of twists and turns." I think there was an evil smirk thrown in there too. That was the only explanation I received. I didn't like that answer then and I still don't like it now. I don't like surprises. You can't plan for surprises. I am a planner. I like to prepare. Surprises on this test are going to be...interesting. I guess there will be a good bit of me improvising and adapting to the situations as they present themselves.

At Thursday night's class and also at Tuesday's class, Mr. G and the other black belts gave me a lot of advice for the last few days before the test, what to bring to the test, etc. etc. Some of the highlights include:

  1. Hit with authority. Ie: Make everything count.
  2. Intensity, intensity, intensity. Give 110% throughout.
  3. Show attitude. Small mistakes can be forgiven, but going through the test doing forms and techniques like a robot with no personality is not acceptable.
  4. Be confident in everything you do. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Don't let mistakes get to you. Show your confidence by holding your head up and looking the black belts in the eye as you answer a question.
  5. Stick to your guns. This has to do with being asked questions. If you're asked a question and you give an answer that you know to be true due to your training and/or convictions, stick with it! The black belts may be trying to make you waver in your answer and doubt yourself to see if you will stick with your line of reasoning.
  6. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is a pressure test. A gut check if you will. You will be pushed. Everything is not going to go 100% according to plan. There will be surprises and being able to deal with them and not freezing is an important part of the test.
  7. Be alert and ready to act at all times. Example 1: It's toward the end of the test. You're tired. Exhausted. Your breathing is labored and sweat is soaking through your gi. Someone comes up and with no warning, throws a punch at your head. Not a slow punch. It's coming, and if you don't react, you're going to be hit hard.
Those were the ones that really stuck in my mind, but there's been more. "Make sure to bring Gatorade," "Don't drink anything carbonated or with caffeine," "Carb up before the test," "Don't eat a big meal before," and those kind of things.

If any of my fellow bloggers have more advice on the prep for the test or during the test itself, please share!


SueC said...

Hey Ariel, your test is going to be a completely different experience to mine! I was tested on the entire shodan syllabus, which was long and arduous (6 hours) but at least I knew what to expect and could prepare. Also, we had no verbal test, tested with several others at the same time and no-one was allowed to watch the test (even training partners can't stay to watch if they are not needed).

However, I like the idea that your test will be unique and tailored to you - I think it will be a great accomplishment when you pass (and you will pass).

The main bit of advice I can offer is 'stay in the moment'. Don't worry about what's just gone before or what is yet to come. Just focus entirely on the task in hand. If you are sparring then the test is just about sparring and nothing else matters. If you are doing your one-steps then the test is just about that at that moment in time. Get me?

I look forward to reading your post-test report...now go enjoy your test ;-)

Michele said...

A few days before the test, I remind students to rely on their training and enjoy the moment.

The Strongest Karate said...

Anytime I have a test coming up I treat it like a pro fighter would a competition. Nothing too strenuous that you run any kind of risk of popping/injuring/etc something.

I usually do light cardio, yoga, and a lot of light stretching throughout the day.

Felicia said...

Ariel, you'll be great! Just remember, your test is just another day - because every day is a test. You are better than you were yesterday and will be better than that tomorrow. Ebb and flow, darling, ebb and flow!

Trust your training - great advice. You know what you know or you wouldn't be testing. Visualize yourself completing it all and putting that shiny new belt on for the first time. You'll be great!

Carb up before your test. Conserve and reserve (it isn't possible to go 110% for the entire test) and just. do.it. You will be GREAT!!