Gradings, Testing and Methodology

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Chris on Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:54 am

Hi all,

I have a few personal convictions when it comes to "testing" "grading" or promotion within any combat system.

I firmly believe that any true test should tick a number of boxes.

1) There should be no pressure or requirement to grade, test or attempt promotion. Each student should be free to train at whatever level within the system they are comfortable and they desire.

2) There should be a clearly defined objective to the testing. The examiner should understand fully what the participant is required to achieve within the test. No ambiguity and no changing of requirements to fit the participant.

3) The test should be a final part of a continuous assessment of the paticipant. The examiner should have a knowledge of the participants ability to pass the test. Their understanding of the requirements and their ability to meet the required level of physical and mental participation. In short, the examiner should already know that the participant is at the level they are testing for, the test is a confirmation of that knowledge. Anyone can dig out a great performance for an hour on a given day. The real test is ensuring that they have the ability and knowledge to perform at that level on a regular basis and have the required understanding of the material to allow growth to the next level. That takes a lengthy period of time spent with the examiner.

4) The test should involve pressure. Each and every stage should include stress, exertion and pressure for the participant consistent with the level they are testing at. You cannot short change this element. For me this is a very black and white issue. If you cannot perform at the required level than you simply cannot be considered to have passed the test overall.

5) The test should not be a money making exercise for the examiner. Any organisation or examiner who gives definite timeframes for promotion or who is charging ridiculous amounts of money for testing should be regarded with serious mistrust.

I have other personal beliefs on how testing should work but those are the basis by which I have tested and by which I have tested others.

My latest testing took place on December 2nd. It was for a senior instructorship and 3rd Dan grade.

Sunday the 2nd was unusual in that for every other test I have done in the last ten years (5 of them) I have normally spent the build up to the event in a state of nervousness. Sunday was different in that while I was nervous I also knew that I could achieve the level being asked for. My internal voice wasn't saying "you may crack under this pressure" as it has in the past, it was saying, "you may fu*k up your shoulder at the beginning or the middle of the test". A few weeks earlier I had torn the rotator cuff in my left arm and my ability to use the arm with authority and its range of motion has been significantly impacted. I'm no macho idiot or hero, I was worried about it but I was also committed and had been waiting for years to take this test so really didn't want to postpone. At the end of the day there is always a reason not to do something frightening or uncomfortable and sometimes you just have to HTFU and do it.

8.00 am and we loaded up the car. Five of us travelling down to the testing centre (Keith - Head Doorman, 6 foot 200lbs, trains five days a week in BJJ/Striking. Chris - Young, strong, 200lbs JKD background with seriously heavy hands, Andy P 190lbs Karate dan grade, doorman, dan grade in jiu jitsu and hard as a coffin nail.) plus me and Andy T who were about to suffer!

We met up with three other guys at the testing centre. One of the guys I knew already but the others were there simply because they wanted to be part of the test. Rich - 220lbs. 21 years on the door, senior dan grade in Jiu Jitsu. Andy, years of judo and jiu jitsu and built like a racing snake and Presh about six foot four and 250lbs of muscle and experience. Heavyweight fighter, doorman and seriously intimidating unit.

They lined up and my heart sunk. They looked serious and they looked hard as nails. I was first up on the mats, a lightweight and increasingly more concerned 147lbs!

The cycle was to be twice through the lot for each rotation with six rotations. At 1st, 3rd and 5th dan the name of the game is purely pressure. At 2nd, 4th and 6th it is technical testing.

The idea at this level was that for the next hour these lads would beast me and punish me in a number of different and imaginative ways. Then for an hour and a half afterwards I would be part of the teaching stage of a seminar for the lads on the mats. Massive adrenal overload and then a requirement to be alert, capable and able to teach or act as UKE on the seminar.

First rotation and Rich set the tone screaming across the room and throwing a massive right hander that looped towards my head with all his bodyweight behind it at my! No preamble, no warm up, no warning just a massively aggressive action and a 200lbs plus bloke trying to genuinely take my head off. I stepped into the right hander and did some stuff I can't even remember that ended up with Rich on the floor. Dave (the tester) looked at me and simply said, "make sure you duck Chris" Smile

Twice through the line and all coming at me with whatever they felt like throwing. All of them striking and all of them massively aggressive. I was punched, kicked, slapped, kneed and elbowed. Every attack has to be accepted, dealt with and worked to a finish. Ten attacks later and my heart was already in my mouth.

Second rotation, same again but the attacks come with no gap between them. Ten attackers following in one after the other with the intent that the participant has no rest at all. As you finish with one the other is waiting inches away to jump. The end result is always that the tester ends up exhausted and beaten down. I finished the second rotation and the little voice that could barely be heard over the sound of my thumping heart and furious breathing was saying to me "you may be in trouble here... you're weak."

Third rotation. Attackers can grab and try to take you down from any position they choose. Again no rest between attackers. You aren't fighting multiples but you are fighting a continuous stream of individuals. They bounce you, drop you, drag you around and generally pile on more and more pressure as the rotation progresses. This is the rotation I remember least about, I am certain this is because of a self protection mechanism adopted by my body to assist in forgetting trauma! Very Happy

Fourth Rotation. Ground work. You're taken to the ground and you have to fight on the ground. Again no rest, the idea being that you simply keep your head, keep working and keep a clear head. Do not give up. By this point you are seriously struggling physically. There is nothing in your arms, nothing in your legs and nothing in your back to assist in even holding onto the guys. This is really about making sure that you are in defecit physically before the sparring round where all you should really be able to do is defend yourself (if you are lucky!) problem is that you are expected to do more than just defend!

Fifth rotation. Sparring. Each of the lads gloves up and you spar a round with each. I was battered! I was just praying for the shot that would put me out of the game and I could just crumple to the floor! All the lads have solid and heavy hands. I spent most of my time covering up and surviving and doing just enough to push on them and look as if I was still in the fight.

Sixth rotation and the lads surround you. Their remit is to take you to the ground. To keep you there until they are told to let you up (let you up means that you have just enough space to start to rise to your feet then they smash you to the ground again. They can slap, knee, smother, knee, trip, throw. The idea is to try and break your heart by constant pressure and letting you fight your way to far before bringing you back down and punishing you again. Two minutes is a long time! I was later informed that Presh was watching me like a tiger until I was just moving from my knees upwards and then he was spearing me like Edge or Goldberg from the WWE. I was cranked, kneed, choked, slapped and kicked. It's the kind of stuff that makes seriously tough men quake. I have been through it before a few times and this was the first time I was completely clear headed while under the crush. It's like being buried alive, a rugby scrum that allows you to kick the stuffing out of the guy on the ground!

After what seems like forever it's over and done with. The physical part is complete.

Five minute break and we are into the seminar. I was uke for a demonstration of impact techniques and the conceptual framework that underpins what we do. I was kicked, slapped, punched, struck, cranked and choked. Already on trembling legs I caught an early shot on the back of the head and had to take a knee. The toll of the earlier exertion and the precision of the shot just finished me off. I wasn't knocked out but it was as close as I could get to it without taking an inopportune nap on the mat! Smile I was expected to walk the mat keeping the lads right with technique, making minor adjustments where necessary and generally being capable of participating in a mental and physical activity which required control, understanding and communication skills. The test was to be switched on in a totally different way.

Three and a half hours after we walked into the room we were finished. Andy and myself both passed and we were buzzing on the drive back home. The lads enjoyed the experience (no small thing to be a participant on these types of gradings) and we were on our way home knowing that we had met the standard set by guys we all hold in the utmost regard. I am not a grade hunter. I am more concerned with how I feel about myself than how others feel about me so this was an exercise in self awareness and growth rather than an exercise to have a nice new grade to show off in front of outsiders. As I said to the lads on the way back home. How can I push you, demand more of you and ask you to take the knocks if I don't put myself out there and ask the same of myself. I just couldn't look myself in the mirror if I hadn't earned it on the mat and in the pressure cooker.

Job done, and I firmly intend to be the oldest 3rd Dan in the world! Very Happy
with great thanks to all the lads and to Dave T who put us through the ringer. He's a great bloke but he certainly isn't Father Christmas!!

avatar
Chris
Moderator

Number of posts : 2042
Localisation : Trollville
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Mr Nobody on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:33 am

Sounds like fun Chris.

Well done to you mate!

Very Happy
avatar
Mr Nobody

Number of posts : 933
Age : 41
Localisation : NZ
Registration date : 2007-01-20

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Nick Hughes on Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:58 am

a subject dear to my heart...I'll be back soon to discuss.

Nick
avatar
Nick Hughes

Number of posts : 3119
Localisation : USA
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile http://www.kravmagalkn.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Jagunco on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:59 pm

lol oh dear Nick

In fairness though Chris I think you've gt the right idea. I'v got the oppourtunity to have a Muay Thai grading on the weekend but I'm showing my age and probably not bothering. The gradings at this particular school are simply for people who don't want to compete to measure their progress and had no bearing on tuition. Therefore think I'll not bother....

I recall my old capoeira days where I was keen as mustard to get the next grading but it was fustrated for various reasons. My first instructor was far to keen to grade people for whatever reason, he graded me to the 4th level. I changed intructors down the line to a guy who never graded. He also saw fit to nulify my 4th grade saying I was on 3rd grade lvl with capoeira, something which I appreciated his honesty in but was angry at my frist teacher about, partuculary since he'd taken 15 quid for that grading I seem to recall.

Anyway in my final years at capoeira no gradings were held for good reasons. His students had no interest in grades and therefore little interest in paying for a Master to fly from Brazil to grade them (yes only the guy in brazil could grade...). I of course was the exception but I can't fault him wth going with the majority but I was upset that though he chose to leave exams behind that he still held it that because I hadn't taken certain tests there were certain exercises not allowed to me. Also I felt slightly robbed that I was never able to rise to a Professor rank and put my own mark on capoeira.

Now I'm in a school with what seems a perfectly sensible approach to gradings and I can't be arsed.... go figure
avatar
Jagunco

Number of posts : 1126
Age : 39
Localisation : Northumberland
Registration date : 2006-08-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  tonyk on Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:17 pm

That sounds like a seriously hard grading on par with DKK's thirty man kumite.

tonyk

Number of posts : 107
Registration date : 2011-01-23

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Peter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:25 am

Third Dan!?! Well done Chris, you a star sir
avatar
Peter
Admin

Number of posts : 2201
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Chris on Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:48 am

Peter wrote:Third Dan!?! Well done Chris, you a star sir

cheers Pete, what can I say. I'm a glutton for punishment Smile

One of the happy few to reach 3rd Dan in SDF/MSC. Only ever gained on the mat and to a standard which is maintained religiously.
avatar
Chris
Moderator

Number of posts : 2042
Localisation : Trollville
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Peter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:43 am

Chris wrote:

I'm a glutton for punishment Smile


I did notice that once or twice Laughing

I only ever graded to brown belt with the SDF and that was the toughest grading I ever did so third dan must have been a beast! I remember watching the video of Stu doing his second dan with horror. Much respect to you fella!

I am currently being rebuilt so I hope one day to get back to you. The doc's have told me that if I try and do a triathlon which was one of my ambitions that the running will destroy my ankle so I may as well come and get chinned off you lot instead. That is still a few months off though Rolling Eyes
avatar
Peter
Admin

Number of posts : 2201
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Nick Hughes on Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:53 pm

Ok...finally a moment to get back on here...

I agree with almost everything Chris said (so there Jagunco Very Happy )....I've always despised schools that just hand out rank after you've been training a certain amount of time (and of course paying a certain amount of dues)

It's called a "test" for a reason.

My other big gripe (and Chris doesn't really mention it) is that very few schools from what I see fail anyone during their tests. I tell my students it's my job to fail as many of them as I can and it's theirs to convince me otherwise.

If you don't do that you screw up in several ways...

1. You're not fooling anyone. The audience and the people involved can all tell when people aren't prepared.

2. You're encouraging a weaker performance level next time because everyone involved figures out "well, if they're going to pass us regardless sod putting in the hard work."

3. People are not proud of what they've achieved if they think it's been given regardless of their effort.

Imagine the SAS if they passed the percentages of people most schools do...their standard would be dire. People absolutely need to know beyond a shadow of a a doubt that they have earned the rank they have.

Ok...Chris, not absolutely clear on your number one. If you're saying they shouldn't be forced into testing just because there's one coming up and the school needs the money etc then I agree 100% If on the other hand you're saying someone can train as long as they want to and never test then I wholeheartedly disagree.

I'll wait till I get your answer back to that one before I type anymore in case it's the former and not the latter. Very Happy

Nick
avatar
Nick Hughes

Number of posts : 3119
Localisation : USA
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile http://www.kravmagalkn.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Chris on Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:57 am

It's personal choice Nick. Someone can train in my class for a long as they like without grading and I am genuinely not bothered at all.

Now, I'll test them in some way in every session because that's just the way we roll. Smile

I'm not keen on the whole concentration on one time and place as a "test" of much. I prefer the continuous assessment approach with an "exam" at the end. To use a poor analogy.
avatar
Chris
Moderator

Number of posts : 2042
Localisation : Trollville
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  David Turton on Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:28 am

Both Chris and Andy performed exceptionally well in their 3rd Dan Grading, and yes Chris is correct when he realised that being 'Uke' out front for the seminar part was an important extra to the actual physical grading.

naturally the physical pressure put on the candidates during the grading was also morphed into mental pressure ... In our system the mental strength to keep going when it gets tough is a massive part, and being Uke was/is part of that.

Yes I gave Chris a deliberate 'shot' to the rear of the skull designed (I hoped) NOT to knock him out but to add to the lowering of adrenaline following the rest after the grading. He was tired and vulnerable, but came back up in the manner expected.

I have no qualms in being a tad 'generous' on lower Kyu gradings, as I believe they are also forms of encouragement .. but a 3rd Dan? .. no way .. its a once in your life achievement ... you were a 2nd Dan.. next time you will be a 4th Dan ... so it cannot be a gift .. it has to be a challenge.

I would feel I had let down all those who have gone before me and those to come if we ever lower Dan Grade standards....

Mind you I had to smile at one point in the sparring when Chris was on the last of his 6 opponents .. he was hurting and tired and kept trying to get behind the hanging kick/punch bags to shield himself ... quite clever I thought and added another 'tick' ....

one thing though HAS to be added .. often the candidate is only as good as the attackers ... Chris and Terry had some awesome attackers producing the right amount of pressure and control ... one of the the best 3rd Dan gradings we have done since I achieved my 1st Dan in 1975

David Turton
Moderator

Number of posts : 854
Age : 68
Localisation : south yorkshire
Registration date : 2008-03-10

View user profile http://www.asmaa.org.uk

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Chris on Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:02 am

Mind you I had to smile at one point in the sparring when Chris was on the last of his 6 opponents .. he was hurting and tired and kept trying to get behind the hanging kick/punch bags to shield himself ... quite clever I thought and added another 'tick' ....

That's cos Presh is huge and scares the life out of me! Purely self preservation! Very Happy

Yes I gave Chris a deliberate 'shot' to the rear of the skull designed (I hoped) NOT to knock him out but to add to the lowering of adrenaline following the rest after the grading. He was tired and vulnerable, but came back up in the manner expected.


Never had to take a second to pull myself round before during a seminar (except for that groin kick you got me with!) but I had to take a knee after that one. I put it down to the exertion of the earlier grading and the fact that the shot was right on the button! Smile
avatar
Chris
Moderator

Number of posts : 2042
Localisation : Trollville
Registration date : 2006-08-14

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Gradings, Testing and Methodology

Post  Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum