by Sifu Benny Afrouzi

Guest Column

There are many elements involved in grading preparation. I want to highlight three elements that have inspired me recently; physical, mental and nutritional.

Physical Preparation

WKFA instructors work very hard to ensure students are prepared for their grading. However, if you are only able to maintain 3 to 5 hours of in-class practice a week, make sure that you’re doing additional training on your own at home, or even sitting at your desk. We put much emphasis on physical muscle memory, however being able to recall the move from a form and practicing while you’re sitting quietly or working a form with an imaginary weapon, even though it may look silly, is a very powerful skill to master.

Another very important aspect of preparing yourself physically for your grading is to make sure you know how to increase your training intensity and when to taper off leading to your grading. It is very important that we push ourselves to our absolute best and full potential when preparing for grading day; however it is vital to do so with extra caution, especially as you get closer to your big day. If a Sifu is telling you to watch your training habits and not to injure yourself, the chances are that what you are doing may put you at risk and you should consider modifying it.

Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is as important as our physical preparation, if not more important. We should adjust our life style (if permissible) going towards our grading in a way that we live and breathe Kung Fu. A good example of that would be to avoid making any mega plans and projects around the grading date. You may say I can keep them separated and that they are entirely different events, but it is my humble recommendation that each and every grading requires your full and undivided attention on the day of the grading as well as the days leading to that grading. The less your brain is distracted the better.

Nutritional Preparation

It is also important to find good nutritional balance in your regular diet and try not to deviate too much from it. This I say based on personal experience. There is a term that is often used in the sports world, and we refer to it as “carbohydrate loading”. In the days prior to your grading, if your regular diet is primarily vegetables and some protein and you load yourself with tons of carbs the night before the grading, you’re not going to be a very happy camper. If you intend to try “carb loading” you need to increase your carbohydrate intake gradually leading to the day of grading to obtain maximum efficiency.

Finally, avoid experimenting with any new food, drinks or medications, that are not already part of your regular diet, close to your grading; especially on grading day!