Is it important to test for your new belt in Martial Arts?

Date: 8th March 2019
Author: Master Bonthuys

As an instructor, the question often presents itself of whether its important to grade or not.


It can sound like this (grading is due to take place very soon):

  • “I don’t think that I am ready (knows the syllabus, but lacks confidence)”
  • “I totally feel that I AM ready (does not know the syllabus yet)”
  • “I think that I will wait till next time (any excuse to avoid the pressure)”
  • “I don’t think that he (another student) should have graded [thinks that they know better than the instructor]”
  • “My son will not be grading because I don’t think that he is good enough yet (mum is a martial arts expert and knows better than the instructor)”

The above are a non-exhaustive selection of comments that we hear every time that we are due to conduct a grading.

The most common reason that students try to avoid the gradings is due to nervousness, anxiety or feeling a lack of confidence…

How about you? Have you ever been nervous before a grading?

You are not alone, and this is completely normal! Everyone can experience sleepless nights and self-doubt before a grading. Even your instructors are nervous when they grade! The reason that you are nervous is because the result is important to you!

These events can trigger high levels of stress hormones and anxiety. Anxiety is a common issue for anyone having to undergo a grading for their next belt - because of the fear of failure…

You are also afraid of disappointing your instructor and being judged negatively by your peers and everyone that is watching in the viewing gallery. Your nerves can undermine your mental and physical performance, and this is why it’s so important to keep your nerves in check. Remember that negative self-talk feeds on fear.

Before any grading, always remind yourself of the following:

  • Your instructor believes that you are ready.
  • You have been preparing for this event for 2-3 months.
  • You passed the pre-grade.
  • You belong here today!

There is a very fine line between being anxious or nervous. Remember that nerves are completely normal! So…become conditioned to it, and don’t fear it!

It’s a simple fact that the human body has difficulties distinguishing between positive excitement and negative anxiety. The only difference is the story you tell yourself…

It’s a fact that it’s very hard to be anxious when you’re excited!

Top tip: Focus on the reward!


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