With each grading day comes a different prospect. Most new students don’t understand the principles behind it all. They think it’s just a day where all they need to do is show their skills and get a belt. I also get asked on a number of occasions, “How long is it going to be?” “When do you think it will be finished?” My answer to this is with a question, “How long is a piece of string?” as each grading day is different. There are different types of students grading and different numbers from one event to the next. So all I can say is it will be finished when it is finished. After all it is a grading “day”, neither a morning nor afternoon. When I was grading during the kyu’s the grading was carried out over a weekend, I had to attend both days. What we tend to forget is that the grading day for our students should be one of the most important days. They are about to show to their Sensei how they have improved over the past few months. Each student will handle this differently and need to have “a good crack-of-the whip”. Some perhaps will need more time than others, and we must remember that it’s not just about getting another belt.
“So what is it about then? – you may ask.
Let me try to explain.
The beginners will be anxious of displaying what they can do and their nerves may get the better of them on the day. The more experienced students will still feel this anxiety, but should be able to control it. However, there are some experienced students that still feel the pressures of being examined. In fact they may find the “wait” the hardest part of the day as their nerves begin to build. This “waiting” period prior to grading and in some circumstances getting the results is all apart of the grading experience. Along with how the student copes with nerves, confidence, technical ability, and stamina, this “waiting” period builds character and instils how to be patient. In fact we hear about this “wait” in Japanese dojo's where a student has to come to class for weeks on end to sit and watch before the Sensei invites him to train. In our modern world we are loosing this ability and becoming more impatient, as every thing has to be done so much faster. So on our grading day this is an important aspect of the character building of our students. Then “wait” to go on to show the Sensei what they can do. Handling the pressures, overcoming their nerves and tension. Then the “wait” to get the results – how well did their grading go? Some student will feel that they have failed when they have not, and others passed when they failed.
So what can we learn from all this?
Well – to be patient, overcoming ones fears, confidence in their achievements and handling their disappointment and humility in their failure when they thought they have passed.
So you can see the grading day is not just about obtaining a pass, or a fail, and possibly getting another belt. It’s really about character building as this is the basis behind all of our martial arts – to built character and be a better person. However, the award is good for ones soul, it makes us feel great in our achievements. It shows us too that we are heading in the right direction and honing and improving our skills – but don’t forget about the skills in building good character.
Have a good Grading Day!