How to prepare for your martial arts grading (2023)

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Dojang X celebrating a successful martial arts grading result!

At several stages during your martial arts journey, you’ll have the opportunity to grade.  

These are formal events where candidates demonstrate their knowledge and skills for rank promotion.  

It’s not uncommon to feel nervous about gradings because we associate this as a ‘test’. 

But fret not! 

This article shares our top tips so that you can best prepare for your next martial arts grading!

Know your martial arts content

How well do you know your content?

If you’re a white belt…

This is your first grading.  Therefore, your content is pretty much everything that you’ve learnt so far.  

Check with your instructor and/or your syllabus information to make sure that you understand what you could be asked to do at your martial arts grading so that you are well prepared.

If you’re above the white belt rank…

It’s important to remember your current content AND what you’ve previously been graded on!  

Although it’s common to focus on the new syllabus material that you need for grading, if you don’t recap previous content, it can make it harder to remember and put unnecessary pressure on you as the grading date approaches.

After all, your rank signifies how much you’ve learnt so far in your martial arts journey.

So, keep recapping frequently!

Train as often as possible even before your martial arts grading

For best retention of your martial arts syllabus, it’s a good idea to train at least twice a week at your martial arts club.

Saying that, if you can only train once a week, that’s fine too.  Just be aware that it might take slightly longer to reach each stage for rank promotion.

The beauty of martial arts is that it’s both a collective and individual journey.

Speaking for ourselves at Dojang X, we don’t push anyone to take a martial arts grading if they aren’t fully prepared. 

Regardless of how many classes that you attend, planning home training – even 15 minutes a few times a week – will definitely boost knowledge retention and sharpen your skills!

You’d want to get into some home training routine at least a month before your target martial arts grading (many months before for black belts) and increase the weekly practice frequently as the grading day approaches.

Understand that the martial arts grading is a snapshot in time

We credit Steven Lemner SBN, a Master-level practitioner and USA instructor in our Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan martial art for this one!

In our daily life, we’re used to approaching things as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

When it comes to martial arts training, it’s therefore not uncommon that we feel a little disappointed in ourselves when we do something that we feel wasn’t correct.  Examples include: forgetting a part of a technique in a hyung (form/ kata) or even attempting a kick when we understand how to do it logically but struggle to make it physically.

However, it’s important to remember that the martial arts journey is a process.

Our instructors prioritise effort, focus and dedication for personal improvement with the knowledge that each class is a snapshot in time of the journey that only gets better.

The same goes for grading. 

It’s a process.

So, you can prepare yourself for your martial arts grading by knowing your content well and getting in that extra practice.  However, approach this with the understanding that you’re doing the best that you possibly could at this exact moment in time – and that is enough.

After the grading, take time to reflect on your experience.  

This is a great way to support your personal development because it helps you to know what areas you’d like to improve as part of your journey forward.

And you know what?

Everyone will have something as a valuable takeaway to improve themselves.

Wrap up

Ultimately, what separates an average martial artist from a great martial artist is the level of effort and dedication that they put into their training.  

As you progress through the ranks, do you recap previous content?  In general, this should be sharper than your current syllabus performance as you’ll have known this material for longer. 

Why are you entering a martial arts grading in the first place?  There’s a notable difference between knowing a sequence and understanding a sequence.  This is seen through one’s training and grading performance.

Finally, do your best and learn from the grading experience. 

This will help you move closer towards your goals.

Recommended reading

Are you grading for the first time and want some tips for the day?

Read this next:

What to expect at your first Soo Bahk Do grading

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