All students start out a white belt, regardless their past experience. Rank testing is simple, train on your required materiel and once you feel confident in yourself, you must test with a Black Belt. Most tests are done after class and can only be done by an adult Sensei (Black Belt), not a Jr. Sensei. All students are required to have their folder with them to test, this allows the instructor to log the date and any required notes, also it allows them to view any past notes you may have. Testing with the same instructor is always best but not required.
The Sensei will note all areas that need improvement, this list can be short or long. The amount of notes does not matter, so don't be discouraged if you're told to fix a couple of things one week and the next week you have more. Your first test, the notes are very general and are only their as guide for basic technique improvement. Your follow up test; should you need one, will have more specific detail on how to perfect the techniques. You may have to test several times on one thing, and again don't be discouraged. Multiple test are designed to improve the student not hold them back, but if you test and your material is sound then you will automatically be signed off.
Once you have one Kata signed off you will need to start learning your next one, all belts have multiple Kata's, but the white belt to yellow is the only belt your taught two at the same time. Kata can only be tested once a week, this allows you to practice and correct any mistakes the instructor may have noticed. The extra materiel in your rank can be tested each class, but it still has the same testing rules as Kata. You may not get signed off the first time and notes will be made.
You will notice on your testing sheet that you have several boxes, and at the end is the instructor sign off section. Once all materiel is signed off the instructor will place your name on the board, for board testing. This again does not apply for white belt to yellow. Yellow belts will automatically be eligible for promotion their next class. Belts from orange and up must be board tested on all materiel. For further information on rank testing, speak to your testing instructor.
Board testing is for students trying to achieve orange belt and up. After you complete all of your rank testing signatures your name is simply put on the board. This is when you are tested for all your material you have ever learned from white belt to your current required material. The test is repeated for all belt levels, so as your belts increase, your knowledge should. This is why it's important to always practice all your material not just the new required material for rank testing. The board test, unlike the rank testing, also includes sparring and fitness. The required amount depends on your rank, so talk to the Sensei putting your name up for board review.
Once your name is on the board, again depending on the level, there is a waiting period of no less then a week. This waiting period should give you time to practice all your material and seek help for any questions about past material. Once we feel you are ready for testing you will be notified, please do not ask when you are going to be tested. When we notify you, if there is a scheduling conflict we can always arrange another testing, but you may have to wait. Some students will be told they are testing on the day they show up to class, so always be prepared.
Most board tests are performed by Master Klawon, this keeps a quality control on the material and a continuity in the testing. The Dojo does have several qualified black belts that from time to time will step in to test. This will not change the quality of the board test, nor will it make it any easier. Students are not allowed to recommend who board tests them, that decision is left up to Master Klawon. The reason for the tight control on board testing, is due to the individual attention each student needs, for health or other reasons.
During your board test, if the required material is not being meet, the test will end. This does not mean you will never get your belt, it simply means you may not have been given enough time to practice. You will be informed of what you did wrong and helped, so that it doesn't happen for your next test. Repeating board tests are very hard and not suggested, so always be prepared by practicing your material. At the end of the test you will be notified at that time if you passed, and will be given the opportunity to decide when you want to be promoted.
Testing can be difficult, scary and nerve-racking, no one likes to be judged and told they made mistakes. Testing however can make you stronger, its designed to make you a better martial artists not a better tester. You should always treat every class like you are being tested, because you are. On several occasions we have given rank signatures to students during class time, for outstanding performance. This will not happen instead of a board test, but it does help you get their faster. Always push yourself in each class, belts are your rewards that only you can earn no-one else.
“We won't give you a Black Belt, you'll earn it”