Many activities in the dojo happen in December. On Sunday the 13th are two holiday parties at the main dojo for the PMA karate students. The first is the junior party at noon with lots of food, games and song. Later at 4 pm the senior party begins.
On January 1st we have the annual Polar Bear beach class at Coronado and karate families are encouraged to join us for the class, the wade into the surf and sharing some food.
Many juniors are being belt tested in December and January. Those being tested will receive nomination papers.
Currently testing over several days is taking place for six students trying to earn their black belts in kobudo or weapons studies. They demonstrate knowledge and skills and three weapons are tested…. the hanbo or short stick, the bo or staff, and finally the bokken (wooden sword) paired with the four foot staff.
Whether competing in a tournament for facing the challenge of belt testing, it builds confidence. Students are formally testing on October 3rd for their belt. Testing is always exciting for many reasons. Testing ranges from enjoyable to stressful to anxious to relief in its completion. There is always pride and satisfaction. Grandmaster Bob Chaney of Temecula wrote the following in an article on why we have testing.
“To elude mandatory regular testing can be motivated by fear of failure, rebellion, misunderstandings, or perhaps the results of financial hardship. One of the very purposes of testing is to help students discover and measure growth in the qualities and characteristics which the martial arts system teaches. Without the test one student would presumptuously rank himself higher than his training would allow, while another student would perceive his achievements as failures. The test levels the playing field for both students. Both are validated by rank which is commensurate to their training. Both may eventually hold the rank of black belt and earn the same level of respect and honor, providing both are loyal to the system which molded them. …. it is possible for the student with lesser skills and athleticism to be worthy of higher honor because the student is measured by their conformity to the system. They embody and propagate the system as long as they continue to be loyal to it and those who are responsible to preserve it.”
Surviving belt tests is part of the step by step growth of facing challenges and obstacles and overcoming them. The steps are every fourth months but reinforces the student’s resolve and perseverance. This clearly has a carryover into other areas in life such as academic studies at school, job employment, other sports, and goals that one sets for oneself in life.
It is important that family and friends support the student in the challenge of testing. By showing support and encouragement, you enable the student to feel pride, to feel like he has an obligation to do well for you, and that he has accomplished something you also can value.