Nervous about testing for your Black Belt? Don’t worry! I have 6 tips to help you prepare for your exam based off my own experience having tested up to 4th Dan and the tips I give my students when they are about to test for their Black Belts!

1. Start Your Preparation Months Ahead of Time

If you’re a serial procrastinator… I’ll just tell you now that it won’t work on your Black Belt Test. Make sure you start preparing 6 months to 1 year ahead of time. I’m going to use my school as an example- though every school’s test is different so be sure to keep that in mind. Six months before the scheduled Black Belt Test, we have a Black Belt Orientation where we distribute testing packets to all of the Black Belt Testing Candidates. These packets break down each part of the Belt Testing into checklists so that students can keep track of what to review and submit. Make sure you know what you will be tested on. Our checklist splits our exam into different review sections such as: Striking & kicking combinations, self-defense, physical fitness, board breaking, forms, mental training, essay, sparring, and weapons. Ask your Instructor if they have a similar packet, or create your own so you can visually see all you have to practice and prepare for. DO NOT wait until the week or month before your test. Black Belt Testing is a serious event and you want to go into it knowing you have done the proper preparation.

2. Find a Training Buddy

Usually, Black Belt Testing is done in a group. Find a friend to review with! Not only is it more fun to study with a buddy, but if you find yourself needing to help them with something- you learn better when you’re teaching/showing someone else how to do something. It’s also great because there’s someone else there to catch your mistakes that you may not notice you’re doing!

3. Prepare for the Unexpected

This tip is more of a mindset thing. You have to accept that there may be things you will have to perform that will be outside your comfort zone or that you don’t think you specifically prepared for. Maybe your instructor wants to see you be able to think on your feet and test your confidence, or maybe halfway through the test you end up twisting an ankle and have to find a way to complete the test through an injury. Having a mindset that tells you that you are ready for anything will help you if any unexpected obstacles arise.

4. Communicate with Your Instructors

Remember your instructors want to see you SUCCEED, so they are always ready to help support you on your Black Belt Test. Ask them for tips & feedback on the things you’ll be tested on like any forms or techniques you have to perform. Sign up for private lessons if there’s any spots you are really struggling with and could use one-on-one help reviewing. Just remember to talk to your instructors beforehand (not last-minute and especially not during the test) so they can best help you!

5. Be Sure to Prioritize

This is important both months ahead of time, and during the week/day before your Black Belt Test. Prioritize your practice time months before your test. You should be putting in extra time outside of your regular classes and training. During the week of your Black Belt Test, be sure you have everything completed so you don’t have to stress. Prioritize by making sure you’re going to bed on time, eating well, and have a good mindset going in to the exam.

6. Focus on Preparing Your Mind

This one is huge. The Black Belt Test is just as much mental as it is a physical test. Prepare your mind by visualizing what the test will be like and how you want to feel during it. Meditate. Have confidence. Stay positive.

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