Sifu Lorna Jones, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Sifu Lorna Jones

Guest Column

It is natural for adults to question whether they are ready to face a grading and move on to the next level. It’s quite frankly scary! At WKFA, our gradings are not easy, and they are not designed to be easy. They are designed to test your knowledge, your ability to prepare yourself as you need to, and your ability to focus and perform under stress. While physical preparation is extremely important, mental preparedness is a major contributing factor to your success on the day of grading. You need to believe that you are ready. Coming out to class and training consistently will help with that confidence.

But on the opposite side of the coin, there may be a time where you think you want to grade, and a Sifu might ask you to wait for the next grading. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing well. It may just mean that we think you would benefit from more time to be ready for your next rank. If you rush through the ranks, your foundation will be shaky for all the rest of your levels. We are trying to set you up for success. Please remember that this is not a race to the ‘end’, but a journey. It’s not just about forms and kicking sequences, but there are underlying lessons to be learned as you progress through the ranks. Humility, leadership, dedication, focus and patience are all vital lessons that can be learned in your training. So racing through to learn your forms as quickly as possible is not necessarily of benefit to you.

For the Junior students, and the students who have just moved up to the adult program, we have another special milestone ahead of you. Because our adult gradings are different and more intense than the youth and junior gradings, we require junior students above the rank of Orange to do a preliminary grading. While this isn’t a pass/fail situation, it should absolutely not be taken lightly. Each group of preliminary graders comes up, and the previous tells them how difficult the grading is. It seems that each new group thinks they will withstand it better than their predecessors, and are shocked on grading day at how hard it actually was. They then tell the next group, who again don’t believe, and the cycle goes on.

Please understand; adult gradings are hard! You need to prepare for your preliminary grading much differently than you did for your previous ones. This preliminary grading has proved time and time again to be a necessary step before attempting an adult grading to a new rank. At the end of your preliminary grading, if all your requirements are met, you will receive your solid colour sash of your current equivalent adult rank. After this grading, you will hopefully understand the amount of work that will be necessary for you to be ready to test for your next adult rank.

At the end of the February adult grading, Sifu made a request that students trust the instructors. This goes for both when we tell you we think you ARE ready for a grading, but also if we tell you that we think you aren’t ready yet. If we think you’re ready, then get training! If we think you aren’t ready yet, then get training! The journey is worth it.