Junior Student’s Corner

by Sifu Charlie Romeo

After another full year of training (or for some of you, your first year of training), it’s important to look back at your progress and accomplishments throughout the year. Perhaps, you finally finished your current form, or earned a medal at the recent Shiai. Looking back is a great way to celebrate these accomplishments, but with the new year approaching, it’s also important to look to the future of your Kung Fu journey. For example, are you looking to test for your next rank sometime soon? Let’s discuss the process of preparing for a grading.

The most important thing to remember is to trust your instructors. We’ve been through the process many times, as teachers and as students – I have tested in 15 gradings throughout my Kung Fu journey. Your teachers will have a good understanding of your progress at your rank and whether you’re ready to move forward, and if you feel that you may be ready and want your instructor’s opinion, it’s important to talk with them. We’re here to help!

So, you’ve talked to your instructors, and they agree you may be ready to grade. Now what? Well, the hard work certainly doesn’t end here. When you’re preparing for a grading, this means that your effort in classes and your practice times at home need to remain high. This is the time to ramp up your training and work on the finer details of your forms, sequences, and other requirements – a good way to do this is to ask questions and request feedback from your instructors. It’s also important to understand exactly what you need to know for your rank. Every student should have a Student Handbook that includes a copy of your Requirements, which lays out everything you need to know at a given rank. If you don’t have this, ask your instructor.

Another important step in preparing for a grading is to test for your forms stripe, which will be assessed in-class by your instructor. This accomplishment doesn’t yet mean that you’re qualified to grade, but it’s a necessary step along the way. Earning your forms stripe tells your instructors that you know your current forms well, and that it may be time to start thinking about grading. Once you have your stripe and your instructor thinks that you’ve been practicing enough, you will be tested on your current and previous forms and sequences in class. If all looks good, you’ll get your name on the grading list!

The last point I want to make is the importance of not rushing to grade. Earning your next rank is exciting, but it’s not something to take lightly. When we say “earn your next rank”, we really do mean “earn”. Nothing in Kung Fu is just given away; earning your next rank takes hard work, practice, and time. If you don’t qualify for a grading that you wanted to test in, there’s always the next one!

Remember to keep working hard, and the results will show.