This past Saturday, I took a prelim exam to see if I could get on the next black belt test. (Actually, this raises a question. Since this is my first and only martial arts school, I'm wondering if prelims are normal, or somewhat unique to KIK.)
I felt extremely well prepared. I have been working toward this exam for several months (in addition to my general martial arts training). I didn't do as well as I would have liked, and certainly not well enough to be placed on the next test in June. The feedback I received after the prelim was typical in that there were things I thought I did poorly on that they felt were fine, and things that I did poorly that I was completely unaware of.
Here's the breakdown. (I'm writing this as much for myself, but if anybody can benefit from it, all the better.)
There were 15 people on the prelim, which is an unusually high number. We still did the standard of all doing basic motion together, but not surprisingly, there was very little feedback. BM is generally used as a warm up, unless you really stand out as needing work. I did get one comment (I think it was BM but it could have been my kata) that my sidekicks are off target. I've been doing a lot of kicking drills, but mostly focused on power/thrust. I hadn't really thought about accuracy. I suppose that matters, ya think?!)
All other portions of the exam are performed individually, with all judges adding notes for providing feedback:
On the black belt exam, we have to perform Shinte plus one other belt-level form. Mine is Bassai. We also have to do one lower belt form, for which I chose Penon 2. For the prelim, we only do one, so I did Shinte. Forms are one of my stronger areas, so that went well. I was told that I need to relax more in the shoulders, which I will try to do, but we do call it 40+ Man Syndrome, so to some extent it's tolerated in the old guys like me.
For the black belt exam, we have to perform eight escapes from grabs using jujitsu. For the prelim, only four. This is the part that I knew ridiculously well. Except that I botched the first one, which is my favorite one. Normally, I'm okay about playing it off when I mess something up and just transition to something else, but I knew this one so well that messing up sincerely startled me so that I stood there confused for what felt like 30 seconds. (I'm told it was barely one second, but was still quite noticeable.) The second involved a brabo choke from bjj that I did okay, but I knew I'd get some comments on because it seems like every person who knows the choke has a different take on it. (Not to suggest that my own technique doesn't need work.) The other two went really well, especially my escape for headlock, which surprised some people with its simplicity and effectiveness. I grab the back of the gi collar while jumping both legs sideways behind my attacker. Quick and easy.
It seems like a lot of schools do this, so I guess it's not unique to KIK. We have to do seven on the black belt exam, just three on the prelim. The second one was a kodenkai ish (no idea about spelling) that I knew was one of my challenge areas, and I did about as well as expected. The other two went well, mostly. The third one involves a finish where I kneel on the side of the attacker's and pull the foot up. Even a small amount of pressure is exteremely painful when done correctly, so I'm always tentative about doing it, and this showed on the exam. I'm going to have to change that one because I'll never feel comfortable doing it.
Four people constantly attack. I was worried about this because I did terribly in a drill the week before. But I managed to stay calm and control the situation (which is primarily what they look for) and I had mostly clean techniques. I was happy. I did get some good constructive feedback, but nothing major.
BB exam, three fights. Prelim, just one. I thought I did pretty poorly, but I got mostly positive feedback. I used good footwork, which is always a challenge for me. I just had generating any effective audience, which is exactly what the judges told me.
I'd say about 35% of the feedback I received was expected, which tells me that I have a lot to work on.
If you read ths far, thanks. I'm not necessarily looking for any, but if you have any thoughts, they are certainly welcome.
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