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How Do I Know If I'm Ready For Black Belt?

The transition from Kup Grade to Dan Grade is not just a physical one. Yes you need to know your Poomsae, and have mastered a basic understanding of all the moves however, more importantly, your Instructor needs to know that you are going to be a great role model to represent them and your club. They need to see that you are loyal, humble, honest, hard working and have a great martial art attitude. Your individual journey to black belt should have changed you both physically, mentally and spiritually. If your Instructor does not put you forward and you think you deserve it, again have faith in their judgement, there could be aspects you need to improve on from an attitude perspective before you progress. If it's not clear take a leap of faith and trust your Master. Patience is a martial arts virtue and is described by this quote: "Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a positive attitude whilst waiting." Martial arts are not a race, it's not about who gets their black belt quickest but who is still training and studying in 10 years time. Take your time and get it right for you only get your black belt once.

So how do you know if you are ready to take 1st Dan? Or any Dan Grade for that matter? To answer this question you have to put your faith in your Master, for it is them who recommends you to Dan Grade. It is also them who have taught you everything you know to get you to this level. If your Instructor says you are ready to Dan Grade you have to trust them as they are more experienced than you and know when you are ready. If they say you are ready it is now time to get yourself ready.

Here are some tips and advice to prepare you for your Dan Grade:

1: HAVE CONFIDENCE - In martial arts confidence comes through repetition. So repeat, repeat, repeat. Go through your poomsae, go through your moves. When it comes to disciplines that are unscripted, like sparring, simply practise them in class and in your own time so you are confident with whatever is thrown at you on the day. Do extra lessons and practise at home like you've never practised before.

2: FORGET PERFECTION - Don't put yourself under pressure by thinking your grading will be perfect and that you won't make any mistakes because more than likely you will. It's not about making mistakes, everyone makes them, it's your ability to carry on and still try your best after making them. So stay positive and fight for that next belt with your attitude.

3: PREPARE MENTALLY - If you look at any of the top athletes they use visualisation techniques to see themselves where they need to be. As a martial artist we need to look at the positives, make our mindset strong and carry on regardless. See yourself doing your poomsae to the best of your ability on your grade, visualise your sparring moves. If you think positively and prepare yourself mentally you'll be more prepared on the day.

4: PRACTISE MEDITATION - Composure is the key to performing at your best. The ability to calm your mind, release your stress and compose yourself before your Dan Grade is crucial. Meditation is the best way to learn how to do this. Traditional martial arts will incorporate breathing techniques and meditation into their daily training but practising in your own time is vitally important. The ability to calm the mind in times of pressure will help you make good decisions and perform to the best of your ability on the day.

Have confidence in your Instructor and their teachings, have confidence in yourself and practise until it's impossible to get wrong. I'd say good luck but you don't need it. Smash your Dan Grade when it's your time to do so.


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