Preparing for a Black Belt

mj-hi-yah

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I'm testing for my Kenpo black belt in two months and I am wondering if any of you experienced Martial Artists would like to share some last minute words of wisdom, advice for getting in shape, or ways in which you recommend to mentally prepare for the physical and mental challenges of a black belt test. In my school it's about a three hour test with only a couple of three minute breaks.

I'd appreciate, and be interested in hearing what any of you (Kenpo or not) would like to share about your own experiences in preparing for your first black belt.

Thanks!
 

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Were you also required to write a black belt thesis?

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mj-hi-yah said:
I'm testing for my Kenpo black belt in two months and I am wondering if any of you experienced Martial Artists would like to share some last minute words of wisdom, advice for getting in shape, or ways in which you recommend to mentally prepare for the physical and mental challenges of a black belt test. In my school it's about a three hour test with only a couple of three minute breaks.

I'd appreciate, and be interested in hearing what any of you (Kenpo or not) would like to share about your own experiences in preparing for your first black belt.

Thanks!

First off, congrats on making it this far!!! :asian: Your first BB, is something that, IMO, is the most important acheivement you can ever get in the arts! Ok, on to your question. Due to the fact that every test will most likely be different, I can only tell you about mine. Get ready for some long, tough basics. Many pushups/sit ups, so I would recommend getting used to that. In addition, many punches, kicks, strikes, etc. both in the air and on targets/bags. You'll most likely go through all or most of your SD and kata. Be prepared to do the SD in the air and on someone. The kata...get ready to possibly do each one more than 1 time, in addition to possibly giving your interpretation of certain moves in the kata. For my first BB, I had to write a paper on something that had to do with the MA, in addition to making up my own kata with a certain number of moves, and being able to explain what I was doing.

The sparring is ususally done towards the end. Be prepared to go many rounds in addition to possibly fighting more than 1 person at the same time. I ended mine with 2 1min rounds on the heavy bag. Pretty much just going all out with strikes.

IMO, the first degree is the most physical test. Not saying that your 2nd and 3rd wont be, but moreso on this one.

Get LOTS of rest the day before. Watch what you eat the day before as well as the day of. Stay focused and relaxed. I know its easier said than done, but if you're not ready, I wouldnt think that your inst. would have put you on the test.

Good luck and let us know how you do!!!! :asian:

Mike
 
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mj-hi-yah

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Yes, and I am almost finished with my thesis paper. Yeah! I am a teacher by trade so I decided to assess the learning styles of all of the students in my school and I am going to show them ways in which they can improve their own learning and teaching in the dojo for better retention of material covered. I'm also big into video editing, so as part of my presentation I've prepared a thirty minute video of the students in the school in interviews and in workouts showing their five "Compelling Why Needs". These needs, which exist mostly in our subconscious minds, if met, prepare us emotionally to be ready to learn. They give us a reason to commit newly learned material to our long-term memories. In Kenpo there is a tremendous amount of material to cover in order to get to black, so I wanted to help people improve the learning environment for themselves and others in an effort to help people stick with it.
 
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mj-hi-yah said:
Yes, and I am almost finished with my thesis paper. Yeah! I am a teacher by trade so I decided to assess the learning styles of all of the students in my school and I am going to show them ways in which they can improve their own learning and teaching in the dojo for better retention of material covered. I'm also big into video editing, so as part of my presentation I've prepared a thirty minute video of the students in the school in interviews and in workouts showing their five "Compelling Why Needs". These needs, which exist mostly in our subconscious minds, if met, prepare us emotionally to be ready to learn. They give us a reason to commit newly learned material to our long-term memories. In Kenpo there is a tremendous amount of material to cover in order to get to black, so I wanted to help people improve the learning environment for themselves and others in an effort to help people stick with it.
Awesome! In TKD, we don't have to write papers, although we do have life skills they keep tabs on us with. And our tabs of balance, focus, etc. THat's cool about the video. That'll be a great inspiration to plenty fo students, especially being that they themselves are in the video.

Keep up the Good Work!

:asian:
 

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Strength, stamina, and recovery ability for the physical stuff. Run alot, lots of rounds on the heavy bag (punching and kicking), push-ups & crunches (sets to 80% of you max number, repeat at 5 - 10 minute intervals for 2 hours), wind sprints (sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, walk back to the start, do it again, x10), jumping jacks, jump rope, cardio, cardio, cardio. If your test is going to be 3 hours, get used to working out hard for 3 hours. Do that a few times a week for the next 6 weeks, ramp down before the test, nothing stressful the week before. Heal up anything that hurts. Hydrate for 4-5 days before. Be in better shape than others testing. Pace is typically determined by the one in worst condition, you want to be catching your breath while others are still dragging themselves off the floor or repeating techniques because they screwed up.

Of course you have to know your material, you don't want to have to remember during the test, it has to be there without thinking.

Think positive! You WILL pass, you're not leaving without that BB, pity those poor souls that you'll trounce on your way to Shodan! Yeah, baby!

Good Luck!
 
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Mike (fellow MJ),

Thanks so much for sharing! It's great advice, especially the part about the day before. How much water did you drink the day before? Also, it's great to hear about your experiences with it. Thank God no heavy bag for us, but I know there will be lots of pad work, which is exhausting and early in the test, and I'm not sure quite how to pace myself. Go all out on the pads? But I'm afraid I'll burn it all up...I love the pad work!

BTW...if you please...what does IMO stand for?
 

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mj-hi-yah said:
Mike (fellow MJ),

Thanks so much for sharing! It's great advice, especially the part about the day before. How much water did you drink the day before? Also, it's great to hear about your experiences with it. Thank God no heavy bag for us, but I know there will be lots of pad work, which is exhausting and early in the test, and I'm not sure quite how to pace myself. Go all out on the pads? But I'm afraid I'll burn it all up...I love the pad work!

BTW...if you please...what does IMO stand for?

Anytime! Glad that I could help! :asian: Ok...for your questions.

1- IMO= In My Opinion

2- The day before, I tried to keep myself as hydrated as I could. Dont remember the exact number of glasses of water. Also, on the day of the test, if there are breaks, and you can get a drink, as hard as its gonna be, DON"T overdrink! Take a few sips, and worse case...just rinse your mouth out with the water. There was one break where I over drank a little, and thought I was gonna lose the water!

3-Bag work. I would assume that your Inst. is going to want you to go all out, so preping for it prior will help. As for pacing yourself...its hard to say, as we're all different. Dont hold your breath, and go at a med. pace. Again, like I said, this is your most physical test you'll probably have. The idea is for you to be pushed as far as you can. They want to see at what point you'll break. I know it sounds sadistic, but thats the idea of the test! :)

Mike
 
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I really appreciate this guys, and thanks for your kind words...I will work for the next seven weeks really hard, and rest for the last week. I am the only one testing in my school. The school is only about six years old, and I've been training for five years and teaching for the last year, so the material is pretty well committed to memory. Being alone I fear will have its challenges, because there's no breather waiting for a lower belt to finish.

Maybe someone can tell me please how to use the quote feature in my responses or direct me to the how to section...it must be easier...you are all so helpful. I can't reply fast enough :) Thanks!
 

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mj-hi-yah said:
I really appreciate this guys, and thanks for your kind words...I will work for the next seven weeks really hard, and rest for the last week. I am the only one testing in my school. The school is only about six years old, and I've been training for five years and teaching for the last year, so the material is pretty well committed to memory. Being alone I fear will have its challenges, because there's no breather waiting for a lower belt to finish.

Ahh...the private test!!!! Had one of those myself. Sure, all eyes will be on you, but dont worry about it. Like I said, if you werent ready I dont think your Inst. would have you test.

Maybe someone can tell me please how to use the quote feature in my responses or direct me to the how to section...it must be easier...you are all so helpful. I can't reply fast enough :) Thanks!

Go to the beginning of whatever it is you want to quote. Use these brackets [] with the word quote in the middle. At the end of whatever it is you're quoting, do the same thing, but before the word qoute, put a slash / before the word quote.

Mike
 

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MJS said:
First off, congrats on making it this far!!! :asian: Your first BB, is something that, IMO, is the most important acheivement you can ever get in the arts! Ok, on to your question. Due to the fact that every test will most likely be different, I can only tell you about mine. Get ready for some long, tough basics. Many pushups/sit ups, so I would recommend getting used to that. In addition, many punches, kicks, strikes, etc. both in the air and on targets/bags. You'll most likely go through all or most of your SD and kata. Be prepared to do the SD in the air and on someone. The kata...get ready to possibly do each one more than 1 time, in addition to possibly giving your interpretation of certain moves in the kata. For my first BB, I had to write a paper on something that had to do with the MA, in addition to making up my own kata with a certain number of moves, and being able to explain what I was doing.

The sparring is ususally done towards the end. Be prepared to go many rounds in addition to possibly fighting more than 1 person at the same time. I ended mine with 2 1min rounds on the heavy bag. Pretty much just going all out with strikes.

IMO, the first degree is the most physical test. Not saying that your 2nd and 3rd wont be, but moreso on this one.

Get LOTS of rest the day before. Watch what you eat the day before as well as the day of. Stay focused and relaxed. I know its easier said than done, but if you're not ready, I wouldnt think that your inst. would have put you on the test.

Good luck and let us know how you do!!!! :asian:

Mike

Mike, Well Put I would further recommend packing the Carbs in the day before and not physically working out at all. Just go over stuff in your mind. Try not to second guess yourself the day of the test. If you mess up just remember THAT ISN"T THE END OF THE TEST. YOu have alot of muscle memorie built up by now good luck and Salute. Let us know how you do.

Respectfully
 
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Rick,

Thanks for your advice...carbs sound great...been trying to drop five pounds for the test so bagels with a side of spaghetti on July 9th! :partyon:

Also I like the part about the mistakes...let it go right? Hopefully there won't be any, but if there are I have to find a way to refocus.


MJ
 

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I used flash cards with the name of the technique on the front along with the attack and the actual technique written on the back. I never had trouble remembering the techniques themselves but the names confused me. This exercise helped me; it might be particularly helpful to you since there won't be a lot of other students there to jog your memory. I also did a lot of visualization of the techniques and katas.

I agree with all the suggestions for hydration and carb loading the day before the test. Don't ignore your conditioning, and get lots of sleep starting at least a week in advance, since the night before you might not be able to sleep so well due to stress. My first test lasted 8 hours, and the only time I remember being so tired was during a wrestling tournament when I was in my teens. Good luck!
 
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psi_radar said:
I used flash cards with the name of the technique on the front along with the attack and the actual technique written on the back. I never had trouble remembering the techniques themselves but the names confused me. This exercise helped me; it might be particularly helpful to you since there won't be a lot of other students there to jog your memory. I also did a lot of visualization of the techniques and katas.

I agree with all the suggestions for hydration and carb loading the day before the test. Don't ignore your conditioning, and get lots of sleep starting at least a week in advance, since the night before you might not be able to sleep so well due to stress. My first test lasted 8 hours, and the only time I remember being so tired was during a wrestling tournament when I was in my teens. Good luck!
Wow eight hours... that is insane!!! If you can survive 8, I guess 3 should be a snap for you! I like the idea of the cards...some of the names are ridiculous and close to each other to cause further confusion when the brain is without oxygen! The only problem is that in Kenpo, my school anyway, there are I think 170 techniques to black...a lot of bending over...maybe I could tape the cards to the mirror.

I think part of it is patience...I want to do them accurately, but fast and powerful, and sometimes I hear the start of the name of the technique and don't listen to the whole thing...like Escape from Darkness and Escape from the Storm. I have to work on that!

I have a headphone mic on my computer and I made a very long sound file to call out the techniques to myself...so far it's helping.
 

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Congratulations! I agree with the others that this is an important milestone. My first BB test was about 7 hours. There are a few things about mine that really stand out in my memory. First, it was like a 7 hour class except it was being led by all of the Masters and founders of our system. Second, it was very different from a regular class in that you had to give 100% in every technique. The people you test with are not necessarily the people you train with. Be prepared for some of them to be rougher than you are used to. (Part of that is the adrenaline) The masters that hold the test know you know the material. Now they want to see what you can do with it. And the most important note I was given....remember to breath. This sounds funny, but not after you see someone holding their breath through 3 or 4 katas and then stopping because they get disoriented.

Good Luck.
 
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Mark L said:
Strength, stamina, and recovery ability for the physical stuff. Run alot, lots of rounds on the heavy bag (punching and kicking), push-ups & crunches (sets to 80% of you max number, repeat at 5 - 10 minute intervals for 2 hours), wind sprints (sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, walk back to the start, do it again, x10), jumping jacks, jump rope, cardio, cardio, cardio. If your test is going to be 3 hours, get used to working out hard for 3 hours. Do that a few times a week for the next 6 weeks, ramp down before the test, nothing stressful the week before. Heal up anything that hurts. Hydrate for 4-5 days before.Good Luck!
Great advice!

I really hate running. That's why I love karate ...:) I don't mind the wind sprints in the dojo, but distance running is SO boring to me. Do you think I can achieve the cardio endurance without that part? With the reps on the sets do you mean 80% of what I'm normally able to handle ? Say for instance, I can do 50 push-ups at a time so do 40 of those and move onto another exercise like crunches and 80% of the norm etc., And do you think three times a week of this for the next seven weeks is good?
 

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Since this is a fairly young school and their may or may not be other Kenpo Schools near you. Don't be surprised by guest black belts that day from other schools. They may or may not be from your system remember we have friends from all different systems. Your instructor may want to show you off. Anyway congratulations on your past success and good luck on your journey.

Respectfully

Rick
 

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mj-hi-yah said:
Great advice!

I really hate running. That's why I love karate ...:) I don't mind the wind sprints in the dojo, but distance running is SO boring to me. Do you think I can achieve the cardio endurance without that part? With the reps on the sets do you mean 80% of what I'm normally able to handle ? Say for instance, I can do 50 push-ups at a time so do 40 of those and move onto another exercise like crunches and 80% of the norm etc., And do you think three times a week of this for the next seven weeks is good?

Running will definately get you in shape, though its hard of the knees. But I agree that it is boring. There are many other things that you can do to improve your cardio. Jumping rope is an excellent way, in addition to biking or even swimming.

As for the amount of time top prep...I'd do something every day. Work on the cardio every other, and on the off days, work the SD and the kata. You'll get a good cardio workout from that too.

Mike
 

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mj-hi-yah said:
Great advice!

I really hate running. That's why I love karate ...:) I don't mind the wind sprints in the dojo, but distance running is SO boring to me. Do you think I can achieve the cardio endurance without that part? With the reps on the sets do you mean 80% of what I'm normally able to handle ? Say for instance, I can do 50 push-ups at a time so do 40 of those and move onto another exercise like crunches and 80% of the norm etc., And do you think three times a week of this for the next seven weeks is good?

I hate it too, but it does help. I took my test 31 days ago, damn I'm glad it's over with. It was long (9 hours) and we covered a bit of ground, we got from place to place by running, and when we screwed up bad we had to do a mile to reflect on the error of our ways. I think we totaled 8-9 miles on the day, I knew it was coming, that's why I did the roadwork. My instructor is quite serious about fitness. A side note, there were two of us that tested: 44 year old me an 18 year old girl. She didn't prepare as thoroughly as I did, she was wasted and barely made it, but she did. Very tough, very determined. I'm very proud of her. From what I hear, this is a typical scenario, the younger ones don't seem to have developed the same sense of fear as us older folk. :wink2:

There are certainly other ways to develop cardio endurance, MJS was right about the jump rope, biking, and swimming. Run through all of your forms 5 times each without stopping, do all your techniques back to back from the first to the last. Don't tell anyone else, but I snuck in the occassional Tae-Bo tape, too. Anything that elevates your heart rate for a length of time ... You can make substantial gains in a 6 week period.

80% is a guess, pick a number that will challenge you each set but not exhaust you so you can't keep going. My routine with the push-ups and V-ups (raising the torso and the legs at the same time) was to do sets of 50 each at 10 minute intervals until I hit 500 each in a bit under 2 hours. Use the jump rope, shadow box, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, etc to fill up the 10 minutes until the next sets. I chose 50 because I could still do quality reps through the end of my last set, your mileage may vary. In retrospect, I could have gone to 75. Whether to go 3X a week is up to you, determine if your body can handle it, or if it isn't challenging enough. Work hard, but no so hard that you can't keep training.
 
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Rick Wade said:
Since this is a fairly young school and their may or may not be other Kenpo Schools near you. Don't be surprised by guest black belts that day from other schools. They may or may not be from your system remember we have friends from all different systems. Your instructor may want to show you off. Anyway congratulations on your past success and good luck on your journey./QUOTE]

Thanks Rick for the luck, and up to now all the advice you guys age giving me I can probably handle, but now you're freaking me out!:) It's hard enough to be the only one being watched for three hours, now throw in an unknown black belt to watch...yikes!

Seriously, I guess after the first few minutes you don't care who is watching...just trying to survive it all.
 

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