Musings from my probationary 2nd dan test yesterday

Gwai Lo Dan

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1). I ought to say to the kids at the beginning of testing, "Uh (surprised)! I see a vision! I can see the future. Someone is going to cry. I can't tell who it is though". Unfortunately, there's always a kid who ends up crying a little.

2) In no head-contact sparring, blocking with an open hand the kick that will be pulled before head contact makes a pretty impressive smacking sound for the audience.

3) Some people just won't shut up. Kids testing, adults testing, people watching. Even when senior black belts say "quiet please", some people wait 5-10 seconds and do more talking.

4) Even when you know you will pass, it's still hard to not be a little nervous, and be less adept than you otherwise would be. Maybe the stress of testing is a fraction of that of a real confrontation, and you ought to be ready for being far worse under the stress of a real threat than you are in a relaxed environment.

5) There's always a parent moving about looking for the best photo. How close can they get to the KJN's table?

6) When people say "good job today", maybe it's true, or maybe it's encouragement.

That's it for now....feel free to add your own observations from testing.
 

TrueJim

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  • 3) Some people just won't shut up. Kids testing, adults testing, people watching. Even when senior black belts say "quiet please", some people wait 5-10 seconds and do more talking.
We just hard color-belt award ceremony yesterday...I can understand why the 5 year olds can't stop being chatterboxes -- they're 5. But yah...some parents. Yack yack yack. Oy.
  • 4) Even when you know you will pass, it's still hard to not be a little nervous, and be less adept than you otherwise would be. Maybe the stress of testing is a fraction of that of a real confrontation, and you ought to be ready for being far worse under the stress of a real threat than you are in a relaxed environment.
Occasionally I'll compete in poomsae in a tournament (to show our kids that taekwondo tournaments aren't "just for kids") -- and even though I'm only competing for fun, and even though there's no pressure, oy vey it's amazing how much less adept my performance is in front of an audience of strangers.
  • 5) There's always a parent moving about looking for the best photo. How close can they get to the KJN's table?
We mitigate this problem somewhat by giving a teenager in our leadership team a DSLR camera during testing or during ceremonies, and posting the resulting photos to Facebook. The teenager is in a dobok and is allowed to be on the floor during the test/ceremony as our "photographer" -- that way parents know they'll be able to go to Facebook and find photos of their kids -- then they're a little less aggressive about taking their own photos. We have a small cadre of teens who have been taught how to use our camera reasonably well.

These pics were taken yesterday by an 11 year old with a Cannon EOS 70D in "sport" mode. Majest Martial Arts Sterling Virginia The fact that the 11 year old is allowed to be on the floor (in her dobok) means she gets better photos anyway than what the parents are likely to take.

P.S. Our KNJ did something yesterday that I think is clever. In the middle of the ceremony he invited parents to volunteer to come out and hammerfist some thick boards. Three brave souls volunteered. They broke their boards, and then he surprised them each a free 6 month membership. Great tactic for getting more adults into our evening classes, I think.
 
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Gwai Lo Dan

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P.S. Our KNJ did something yesterday that I think is clever. In the middle of the ceremony he invited parents to volunteer to come out and hammerfist some thick boards. Three brave souls volunteered. They broke their boards, and then he surprised them each a free 6 month membership. Great tactic for getting more adults into our evening classes, I think.

That's a good way of getting some adults who aren't afraid to try something new or to push themselves.
 

TrueJim

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That's a good way of getting some adults who aren't afraid to try something new or to push themselves.

Yah, exactly...that's what I thought was so clever about it. I'm not even sure our KJN had pre-planned it. I think maybe he was like, "Wow! Three volunteers! And they weren't afraid to do this in front of a big audience...I need to get them into the evening adult classes."
 

rev.jeff.wilson

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Our lower rank tests (white to green) are typically done during class so the parents can watch the test. All upper rank tests are scheduled and are closed tests (for both kids and adults). There are no distractions this way. I have been in schools where the tests were open and personally I like the closed tests.
 

gpseymour

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Our lower rank tests (white to green) are typically done during class so the parents can watch the test. All upper rank tests are scheduled and are closed tests (for both kids and adults). There are no distractions this way. I have been in schools where the tests were open and personally I like the closed tests.
Ours are a combination of open and closed. Most of the physical testing is done during regular classes (usually, over a period of 3-6 months). There are some verbal tests that are closed, simply to avoid distracting class. The final (and most grueling) is the self-defense test, and that is closed.
 

Rough Rider

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All upper rank tests are scheduled and are closed tests (for both kids and adults). There are no distractions this way. I have been in schools where the tests were open and personally I like the closed tests.

I've seen a lot of schools that have no separation between the mat area and the viewing area, other than maybe a half wall. In those cases, I can see your point. I think we have a better set-up at my school. The mat area is in a completely separate room, with full walls. There are large windows through which parents can watch both classes and testing. To reduce distractions even more, the windows are like one-way mirrors; you can see in easily, but you can only see out if you look really hard. With a casual glance from the inside, you only see your reflection.
 

gpseymour

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I've seen a lot of schools that have no separation between the mat area and the viewing area, other than maybe a half wall. In those cases, I can see your point. I think we have a better set-up at my school. The mat area is in a completely separate room, with full walls. There are large windows through which parents can watch both classes and testing. To reduce distractions even more, the windows are like one-way mirrors; you can see in easily, but you can only see out if you look really hard. With a casual glance from the inside, you only see your reflection.
In all of the schools I trained in, there wasn't even a half-wall. At best, a railing. I like the idea of there being a reception area where folks can talk without worrying about interrupting class.
 

TrueJim

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Our half-wall is also our storage (shelves & cabinets) as well as a countertop - which is handy. During classes, one of our assistant instructors holds in his hands an old iPhone (that's just used as an iPod nowadays) that's bluetoothed to the sound system - when the main instructor is talking, the other instructor just holds down the down-volume on the phone so that the person talking may be heard. Then as soon as the talking is finished, the volume goes way-way-up again while everybody practices today's drill. The iPhone has separate playlists for cardio workouts, practicing poomsae, doing drills, etc.

Anyway, with the music so LOUD most of the time, people coudn't interrupt much even if they tried. An observer would never be able to hear a phonecall while drills are going on.

IMG_7214.jpg
 

gpseymour

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Our half-wall is also our storage (shelves & cabinets) as well as a countertop - which is handy. During classes, one of our assistant instructors holds in his hands an old iPhone (that's just used as an iPod nowadays) that's bluetoothed to the sound system - when the main instructor is talking, the other instructor just holds down the down-volume on the phone so that the person talking may be heard. Then as soon as the talking is finished, the volume goes way-way-up again while everybody practices today's drill. The iPhone has separate playlists for cardio workouts, practicing poomsae, doing drills, etc.

Anyway, with the music so LOUD most of the time, people coudn't interrupt much even if they tried. An observer would never be able to hear a phonecall while drills are going on.

IMG_7214.jpg
That's one way to reduce distractions.
 

gpseymour

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Question:

Why reduce distractions? Shouldn't students be able to ignore them?
There's a conundrum here. We need to be able to shut out distractions, but if we get overly focused in class, it can cause safety issues - we start shutting out distractions like people saying, "Heads up!"

So, when people need to focus tightly, I prefer to keep distractions down. But there are plenty of times I think training in TMA can get too focused on quiet. I've been to dojo where there was no talking during class, except by the instructor, or in response to a question by the instructor. I don't think that's an optimal learning environment, and doesn't help build the ability to ignore distractions, as you mention.

In other words, we need both.
 

drop bear

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There's a conundrum here. We need to be able to shut out distractions, but if we get overly focused in class, it can cause safety issues - we start shutting out distractions like people saying, "Heads up!"

So, when people need to focus tightly, I prefer to keep distractions down. But there are plenty of times I think training in TMA can get too focused on quiet. I've been to dojo where there was no talking during class, except by the instructor, or in response to a question by the instructor. I don't think that's an optimal learning environment, and doesn't help build the ability to ignore distractions, as you mention.

In other words, we need both.

Yeah but a crowd of spectators is like herding cats.
 

oftheherd1

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I have a question I meant to ask earlier in the thread but didn't. What is a probationary test? In the Hapkido I studied, for Dan tests there was a practice test first, at the dojang, before going to the Association headquarters for the actual test. Is that the kind of thing your are referring to?
 

gpseymour

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I have a question I meant to ask earlier in the thread but didn't. What is a probationary test? In the Hapkido I studied, for Dan tests there was a practice test first, at the dojang, before going to the Association headquarters for the actual test. Is that the kind of thing your are referring to?
I think it's the 2nd dan promotion that is probationary, not the test.
 

TrueJim

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Or maybe he means he's in the probationary period for his 2nd attempt at a first-dan promotion. That's the problem with modifiers: it's hard to be sure which word is modifying which. :)

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
 

gpseymour

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Or maybe he means he's in the probationary period for his 2nd attempt at a first-dan promotion. That's the problem with modifiers: it's hard to be sure which word is modifying which. :)

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
Or maybe this is the second guy named Dan to test him, and the dude's on probation.
 
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Gwai Lo Dan

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All good answers! The meaning of "probationary" is unclear to me as well. In the end, it's the first of 2 tests for 2nd dan; passing the 2nd test gets the student the Kukkiwon registration. The 1st and 2nd tests are more or less the same things, although I think the threshold to pass is higher on the 2nd test. Like other schools with intermediary black belt testing, I think it's meant to keep people motivated towards a goal.

For me, the goal of "x" degree isn't that important; my goal is to get better. So I liked the testing not for the extra stripe on my belt, but for doing kicking combinations repeatedly, with both legs, of kicks that are perhaps impractical for me (given my abilities) but beneficial to practice (to increase my abilities).
 
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