Whatever you did to prepare for your last grading isn’t good enough to prepare for your next! I have often used that comment at the end of a grading, particularly when it was apparent that some participants could have done a much better job of preparing for the grading; particularly when testing for an intermediate rank or higher. This applies to both adults and kids, but expectations for adults are different.
Our curriculum is taught in a progressive manner where students begin with basic traditional training techniques and progress to more challenging techniques at each rank. You are building a skill set that culminates in a thorough knowledge of the WKFA curriculum. As you soon discover, there are certain things that you are tested on in every grading and instructors expect to see that you become more proficient with previously learned skills in each successive grading. As we provide you with more knowledge the number of things you are potentially tested on in a grading increases. Hence the reality that both the length of gradings and the expectations of instructors increases over time.
I have participated in close to 100 gradings, as either a student or as an instructor, and I can say with confidence that those students that put in the greatest effort prior to a grading, perform the best during the grading. The best way to prepare for a Kung Fu grading is to do Kung Fu. In other words, spend your time working on the things that you know will be in a grading. Kicks from a forward stance, moving drills, kicking sequences, drills from a basic stance for prolonged periods, and forms.
Things like running, cycling, weight training, or even bag work, should be considered a supplement to your training. You won’t be asked to run or cycle in a grading. In fact, I have seen marathon runners nearly collapse in a Novice II grading because they thought that running was enough to prepare them for the effort necessary. If you like to run, great, but if you head out and run for a half-hour one day and the next day work basics and forms continually for the same length of time and you’ll very quickly see what I mean.
The training that I’m talking about in this article is extra-curricular training. It is the training that you do outside of class. Simply increasing your class attendance when you’re getting ready to grade for your yellow sash or orange sash may be enough, but after that you need to put in more effort, and, the need for extracurricular training becomes more critical for each subsequent rank.
While I’m on the topic of gradings; at certain ranks writing an essay is part of your grading requirements. I’ve read a lot of these over the years, most are very insightful and well contemplated. I’ve also read a lot that, although well written, didn’t address the topic. To me that means that you either didn’t understand the topic, or chose to ignore it. It has frequently been suggested that we withhold grading results for students that don’t address the topic until an acceptable essay is produced; hopefully it won’t come to that. Prior to your grading be sure that you understand the topic and then craft your essay to address the topic.