Tips for Testing

In some point of your training you’ve gone to testing to advance in rank or complete a midterm. You’re asked to perform different skills and the requirements to pass differ based on organization and/ or instructor. Skills that may be required for testing may be forms, sparring, weapons, self-defense, fitness and board breaks. Testing can be exiting for some and nerve racking for others. For me, there were times when I was excited to test and times when I was nervous. Here are some tips  to prepare and how to make testing less stressful.

At Testing, you will be asked to do the form that goes with your current rank. By this point memorization should not be an issue. The judges look for proper technique, intensity, controlled power and stances. Ask your instructor about details in the form you’re not sure about and for area to improve on. Also make record yourself doing your form. I find that I catch myself making mistakes in my technique. You also may be asked to demonstrate lower rank forms so make sure you stay sharp with them. Finally if you make a mistake doing your form, move on and don’t look at the judges, that will make you nervous

Another testing requirement could be fitness. Demonstrating strength and endurance is crucial for advanced students. Push-ups, sit-ups combinations, running, may be required. It’s based on the organization and/or instructor. For example, I’m apart of ATA, which has standards for the fit test. 30 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, 10 sets of Strike/Kick Combinations  10 sets warrior kicking combos: 17,18  and 10 warrior punching combinations 1-4 which is a total of 300 good quality techniques. For ages 39 and under the time limit is 5 min 40-59 the time limit is 6 min for 60+ the time limit is 7 min. The goal of the test is to 300 good quality techniques within the age appropriate time limit. My instructor pre-test the fit test to save time at testing. For the color belts, fitness is a stripes requirement.

Sparring is another skill that could be required. The purpose of sparring at testing is to demonstrate proficiency in footwork, speed, blocking, countering, control  and use of combinations. Even though I earned a state title in sparring, I still got a low score in this area because I used the same moves over and over again. Part of being a black belt is using a variety of kicks and combinations.

Board breaking can be a stressful part of testing. You may be fearful “what if I don’t break it what if I break my fingers or toes”? Replace fear with “I will break my boards on the first try.” To prepare for a board break, start with pads and gloves and sparring boots once you gain confidence and hit with the correct part of the body then try  breaking boards. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t break the first try. and Finally hit the center of the board and penetrate.

If you have to demonstrate a weapon whether its a form or a drill. Make sure you make your strikes crisp but controlled. If you drop the weapon make sure you pick it up correctly.

If you have to demonstrate self-defense make it crisp and without hesitation. Self- defense requirements depend on instructor so talk to your instructor about self-defense.

So testing is right around the corner. Make sure you keep practicing. Here are some final tips for the day of testing

  1. Get a good night’s sleep
  2. Arrive early so you can stretch
  3. Eat a healthy snack: yogurt, granola bars, fruit
  4. Don’t doubt your self
  5. Finally do your best!

I wish you good luck this coming testing and remember to celebrate your accomplishments. If you don’t pass use this as an oppourtunity to improve and by the next testing you’ll be even better.


Single Ssahng Joel Bang Training Tips

My Favorite weapon to compete with is the single ssahng joel bang. I earned state titles and a  2015 district title. I even competed at the tournament of Champions at the 2015 World Championships in Little Rock.

At districts I placed 2nd in weapons doing the ssahng joel bang form. I remember receiving a high score but still placing 2nd. The Judges look for the smallest details which distinguishes a 1st place from a second place form.  A first place form would have smooth well defined moves done in a straight line. I noticed that looking back that the smallest details made the biggest difference. The more competitors competing with single ssahng joel bang the harder it is to get a high score. Whether you’re just learning the ssahng joel bang or practice regularly, here are my tips for competing.

  1. Make form smooth. Your strikes should flow into each other one after the other. For moves where you have to catch the weapon start slow and when you gain confidence add in speed.
  2. Make sure you’re doing full strikes: Your strikes should have some power behind them and not be so close too your body.
  3. Don’t hit yourself. Make sure the string or chain touches your thigh or ribs or you’ll be in pain. It took some pain to learn .
  4. Make sure you stay in a straight line
  5. Once you feel confident in doing the form add in speed and intensity.
  6. Record your self whether practicing or competing. Then you can see the areas where you need to improve.
  7. If you drop the weapon, pick it up correctly and carry on. Don’t look at the judges, that will make you nervous . Don’t let a dropped weapon ruin your performance, remember if the rest of your form is strong, then you still have a chance at earning a decent score.


My Journey to Second Degree Black Belt

I earned my first-degree black belt on February 19, 2011.  As a first-degree I  got serious about competing. I competed in tournaments in the northeast region from new England to Virginia Beach.  I was struggling in my training, but competing helped me improve and test for Second Degree black belt.  I reviewed the videos my Dad took and worked on the improving in an area for the next tournament or testing.

I competed at districts for the first time in 2013. I competed in Form, Weapons, Sparring, and combat Sparring. I placed weapons, sparring and combat sparring. At the 2014 Districts I placed 2nd in weapons and


Sparring at The Delaware Regional Tournament

combat sparring. In 2015 I earned district champion in weapons and 2nd place in combat sparring. Earning district champion in an event means an opportunity to compete in an event at the Tournament of Champions.

I competed at the 2015 world championships in Little Rock . The first day I was there I competed at tournament of Champions in weapons. Most of the people I competed against used the single sshang joel bang. This meant fierce competition and close scores from the judges. I did my best performance  with the sshang joel bang but received an average score as did most people. I saw how where my skill is at Worlds.

I took me over four years to earn my Second- Degree Black belt.  The fastest it takes to earn a second  degree black belt is one year. I realize most for most people it takes more than a year. If you are struggling in your training I would suggest that you be humble and admit when you’re struggling. Also don’t be discouraged if people that started after you pass in rank. Keep running your race and keep training hard.

I tested for second degree recommended (2R) in August 2015 and from there I saw my hard work start to pay off. In October I successfully mid termed as a (2R). Then finally in December 2015 I earned my Second degree black belt. Competition and my struggles in my training has given me perseverance. I hope this encourages anyone out there whether they are a beginner or a black belt to keep their eye on the prize.