Anyone here fail their Black Belt Test?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Nomad, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    I put this in the karate section because that's what I do, but the question is open to all styles as far as I'm concerned.

    Did anyone here fail a test for Black Belt? Or watch a fellow student fail theirs?

    If so, how do/did you feel about it?

    Perhaps I'm coming at this with the blinders of my style, but anyone who tests for black should pass; otherwise they weren't ready to test in the first place. As the first kyu students get closer and closer to black, they are being constantly "tested" in class to see their progress.

    Although something catastrophic could happen (eg. complete mental blank when they go up), the actual test for black isn't really to see if their technique is good enough; we know that already. From oral testing, we have an idea of where their minds are.

    The real purpose of our black belt test is to give the candidates a platform to show what they can do, and to test them in other ways (eg. testing the spirit by working them to the point of exhaustion and seeing their attitude when asked to do something more). In a very real way, it's designed to make the candidates believe they've earned it (even though 95% of what goes into earning it happens weeks, months, and years prior to the test).

    On this basis, if we say someone's ready to test for their black belt, and they fail, then as the people setting the test, aren't we at least partly to blame for the failure?

    Does your dojo take a similar approach? If not, what are the differences?
     
  2. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    If you can't fail a test, it ain't a test.

    I have only seen one student fail a brown test, and have voted against two students passing brown tests, though I got outvoted on the board. I haven't had the "opportunity" to fail a black. I know that one of my instructors failed his black.

    I wouldn't put a student up to test unless they were ready, but if they then failed, how in the heck is it my fault? If it was happening regularly it probably speaks to my competance as a teacher, but if it is a rare occurence then I'm going to leave it up to the primary responsible party; the student.
     
  3. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    In class I can train well, up to if not beyond the level I’m testing for, but during a competition or a grading….it all falls apart. I’ve failed two gradings in ten years, one because I was unsure of some moves and one because I was nervous. I absolutely hate grading time, but I know it’s a necessary evil. Got Yondan in December, so I’m training hard right now.
     
  4. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    Well Yes I have and it was not funny at the time but I retested 6 months later and passed. I just did not do enought o earn my adult BB when I was 17. I learn more from that one test than anything else in my life, the thought of not being prepared for everything now just seems silly.
     
  5. jks9199

    jks9199 Cause of War & Destroyer of Civilization Staff Member

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    A good instructor shouldn't put someone up for black belt until the instructor believes that they possess all the tools to succeed and pass the test -- but the test can't be an automatic pass, either. It's up to the student to show that, under the pressure of the test, they can produce and apply those tools. If they can't -- then they should fail.
     
  6. Gordon Nore

    Gordon Nore Senior Master

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    No, I didn't fail, but I was completely overwhelmed by the experience and felt throughout that I was doing badly.

    So that's the test, I expect. Coming back and back again in the face of my own inadequacy.
     
  7. searcher

    searcher Senior Master

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    I did not fail my 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Dan and failed my 4th Dan one time in Chito-ryu. Did not fail one in Isshin-ryu or TKD.

    I have seen several students fail their BB test at varying levels. I just let them know that it happens and help them with what they did wrong. It seems that if they know what they did and that it can happen, they come back stronger from it.
     
  8. shihansmurf

    shihansmurf Black Belt

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    No, but I have made the decision to issue a failing grade on a shodan and a nidan grading. The way I conduct things is that by the time I present a student they are more than prepared to test. Should they fail its because they let the pressure of the test get the better of them and that is what happened to both of these two individuals. They each got so nervous that they forgot major portions of their katas, performed incorrect combinations of basics(they know what combos they will be performing ahead of time), and messed up their one steps ( which they work out ahead of time with partners).

    Three months later, in each case, they both re-tested a passed with flying colors. Somedays you just get nervous.

    Mark
     
  9. twendkata71

    twendkata71 Black Belt

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    I did not fail my shodan test. I have seen others fail, they were just not ready. I more often have seen those testing for higher dan rank fail. Most of the time, they were not ready, either physically ,mentally, or in their level of maturity.
     
  10. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I concur. I have been on a black belt board where we failed a student.

    I've been on boards at annual camps where students were just tested and sorted into ranks based on skill. Often an instructor would state that he wanted a black belt for his student, and often we felt a brown belt was what was warranted. It wasn't technically a black belt failure but students often so perceived it.
     
  11. matt.m

    matt.m Senior Master

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    I haven't ever failed a test. However, I am so hard on myself I think to myself "Geez, if I was on the testing panel I would fail myself." That is just me though. The time I spent in the Marines wasn't real forgiving in descrepencies of things and attention to detail was a huge deal.
     
  12. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    In genbukan shodan is generally taken by Soke Tanemura, although recently shibucho or higher ranking grades *can* grade shodan tests too. In practice it's almost always with Tanemura sensei, and exceptionally before the shibucho. This means it's not an intra-dojo checktest, and the examinator might play with what you think you have to know. For example having you take the exam with an uke you've never trained with, even if this person is completely unable or unaware of the techniques you have to do. It means you have to know your stuff thoroughly, or risk failure. Generally these exams are quite demanding and quite intense.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  13. Stac3y

    Stac3y Master Black Belt

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    I failed one section of my first brown belt test (a portion of the self defense), but passed overall because my kata and technique scores were high.
     
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    In our style, the formal test for black belt tends to come after several months of mini-tests, where the instructor or senior students will ask you to perform various aspects for them at different times. This gives a pretty good idea of whether or not the person is "ready" to test formally (knows the material inside and out and can perform it with reasonable accuracy on demand, is able to keep their composure, etc)... if the answer is obviously not, we give some pointers, may have someone work with them for awhile, and come back in a month or two to have another informal look. This process can continue as long as necessary, and the duration is completely up to the individual.

    That said, when testing they absolutely could screw it up, whether because of nerves or something else. As examiners (which I've only helped on a couple of times to this point), it's our job to try to bring out their best during the test without going easy on them. So far, I've been fortunate that the people testing have risen to the occasion and given more than most of us thought they were capable of (possibly including themselves).

    Obviously, this would be very different if the testing was done by people who didn't know them as well (ie. outside instructors, etc).
     
  15. Wey

    Wey Green Belt

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    In my style, Don Jitsu Ryu, black belt grading is three days long. Even true to the colored belt gradings, they are always unpredictable. Some routines aren't tested, sometimes they are. I have not yet tested for my black belt, but failure is always a possibility. Ultimately it IS up to the individual, but if you don't exactly know what you will be doing, the test can be daunting.
     
  16. phfman

    phfman Yellow Belt

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    No. As instructors we can see when one of our students are ready to test knowledge wise. What we really test for is the student's ability to perform under extreme pressure. This is what separates kyu's from dan's. Almost anyone can master techniques, but in our style a candidate must be at an advanced level physically, mentally, emotionally and also have the maturity to be considered BB material.
     
  17. TKD'oh

    TKD'oh White Belt

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    I've never seen anyone fail a black belt test, but I have seen someone give up.
     
  18. Stac3y

    Stac3y Master Black Belt

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    I've seen someone fail a brown belt test.
     
  19. Tensei85

    Tensei85 Master Black Belt

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    I think there are a few variables involved.

    1. The student may not be up to testing standards at the time of the test due to several things. Maybe nervous (b.b. test is a big thing), personal life, not able to focus 100% on the goal, etc...

    So in those regards I don't feel the Master Instructors are to be blamed or held responsible based on those accounts.

    For us the B.B. test was to test the candidate and see if they have the necessary requirements to be considered a b.b.and someone who can represent the Dojo/Dojang on a full term basis. Via comps, teaching, demos, etc...

    So I have seen some fail, but generally they were allowed to have a rest & take it again as long as they were aware of the reasons as to why they failed in the 1st place.

    As far as how I felt about it: I felt the Master Instructor(s) took all necessary unbiased precautions at the time of and after the initial judgment as to if the candidate passed or not.

    So generally everyone was fully aware previously if they performed poorly or met the standards.
     
  20. hkfuie

    hkfuie Purple Belt

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    The result is the same. I have seen that, too.

    Someone else's story reminded me of a time (I was about green belt) my instructor asked me to do a difficult jump kick that I had never learned before. I felt frustrated and discouraged and even angry, but I just did the asked for repetitions very badly. Later, still angry, I realized that the difficult situation was the test. I passed the test and no mention was made of how terrible I had done on that one kick. He just said something to the effect of, "I knew you had not been taught that kick, you know."

    I appreciate what I have learned in testing situations. I remember one of the first things I learned was: in a daunting situation, just do one thing, then do the next thing, just do the thing I need to do now. I have applied that in my life a few times since then.
     

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