Green belt testing conducted
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On Saturday, April 29, Garners Premier Karate conducted color belt testing.
This test has been the smallest testing group so far. Three boys, clad in traditional, white uniforms accented with green trim and green belts tested to receive their sixth Gup, Green Belt with one stripe.
The three candidates began with an opening ceremony followed by a brief warm-up exercise and after a brief address from the instructor, began the test. In the audience were parents and a few new students to take in the proceedings.
The test involved the boys conducting basic hand and foot techniques up and down the floor, followed by a series of three move combinations, then forms. After a short break, the test continued with demonstration of break-fall techniques, one-step and self-defense partner drills, sparring, and board breaking.
The final phase of the test is an oral exam on general history and knowledge and terminology.
Through each part, the boys performed, while the instructors watched and graded, the test being paused once to be reminded the candidates to put out all effort in all phases of the test, to give their best, maximum effort.
Two weeks later on May 15, the same three boys – Sean Roach, Leo Li and Alexander Poe – stood in formal formation to receive their stripes.
Assistant Instructor, James Gotcher called each boy forward to read the proclamation of promotion from each certificate as head instructor James Garner wrapped the strip of tape around one end of the belt.
Then, the certificate is passed to the newly-promoted student with a ceremonial bow and hand shake.
At the conclusion, as is customary, the testing candidates and the instructors, turned to thank the parents, families, and other audience members for a formal bow.
The promotion ceremony concluded with group photos of the proud, smiling, newly promoted students and their instructors. In two to four months, these boys will be back to receive a second stripe on their green belts.
“Well, originally there were 18 listed on our test candidate sheet a few weeks ago. Out of that list, only three applied to test,” said Garner, owner of the facility. “We test every two months, and each cycle I print a list of those students who are eligible to test for their next rank. As the test date gets closer, students who have maintained regular attendance and are putting forth their best effort, maintain good grades in school, and have good behavior at home, stay on the list. Then the week before a test, I print out applications to those still on the list. At any time during this process, student and parents can opt out of testing. We also advise if students are not keeping up and do not appear as ready as we know they can be. Anyway, the students have a week to return the application and appropriate fee. Those that do are put on the Master Test List. This time there are only three who felt ready to test.”
The instructors were asked if lower test numbers are discouraging.
Gotcher answered, “Only a little. When the majority of our students are intermediate and high color belts (green and red levels) it is expected that students carefully weigh their readiness. Large tests are more exciting, but in the end, with the emphasis being on the student’s progress, not our egos, we will occasionally have small tests.”
“They know what is expected of them and they know how much effort they have put in all ready,” Garner said. “I demand 100 percent effort. I expect students to practice. But, I would rather a candidate choose not to test than bomb a portion of the test.”
Students are never required to test, though students who have not tested for a while and are ready, who are just nervous or unsure about their skills will be strongly encouraged test. Parents also have a say.
Garner, when asked if he considers his testing policies or test itself to be intense responded, “What’s intense?” he said with a slight chuckle. “Yes, I push my students. Testing is formal and rigorous. I want them to show me how much they want it. And, as I’ve said before, they leave it all on the floor. They really want to do well and usually exceed expectations. Rarely do students fail a test, but if they do, they are given two weeks to improve on what they scored lower on and are re-tested on that material during regular class time.”
“They’re sweaty and tired, but in the end they know they deserve their promotions,” Gotcher said. “As far as those who do fail a part; sure they’re heart broken. But, when they re-test–they pass. Sometimes it’s just the pressure of the test that gets to them, that’s why we have re-testing.”
Garner concluded, “They would not be on the list if I didn’t think they could pass. One of my favorite parts of having a school is promotions. It’s about the students, from testing to promotions. I tell my students every day is a test. It’s up to them; half effort leads to half results, full effort leads to success. Promotions are the result of hard work, white belt to black belt and beyond.”
Sean Roach, Leo Li, Alexander Poe, Owner and Head Instructor James Garner for green belt testing conducted at Garner’s Premier Karate April 29. Photo provided