Black Belt Academy
4885 West Boulevard • Poplar Bluff Missouri 63901 • 573.785.KICK (5425)

First, take a deep breath. Yes, you're nervous. You're supposed to be. No matter your rank, it's unlikely that you will ever NOT be nervous. Testing is a controlled stress environment. It is designed to teach you how to handle stressful situations. Works great, doesn't it?

Our testings are open to the public, and your friends and family are welcome to come to support you.

We strive for an eight-week testing cycle -- one testing every other month -- but in reality we generally have five in a calendar year, in January, March, May, August and October. There's no testing in November or December because of the holidays, and we don't have one in July because of World Championships in Little Rock.

When you first start training, assuming you attend class regularly and practice at home, you can probably be prepared for each test date. However, at camo and green belt, the material becomes more difficult, and it's about this time you should probably start planning on skipping every other testing.

To be able to test, you need to have your stripes for self-defense, form, one-steps or board breaking, and basic techniques. You also need your fifth stripe, the testing stripe. You can earn your fifth stripe right up to the time we line to begin the testing.

We will NOT set you up for failure. We will only approve you for testing if you are ready.

Most testings are on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. With the exception of Halloween in October, we have a Mock Testing on Friday at 5:30 p.m. This is a chance for you to run through the testing procedure, do your form, self-defense and, if time allows, your weapons form. Mock Testing is highly recommended for ALL belt ranks -- it's a great way to work out any bugs and get feedback. You aren't required to wear your dobak for Mock Testing.

For St. Patrick's Day testing in March, you can wear green -- a t-shirt, for example. We encourage you to wear a fun or scary costume for Halloween testing -- but keep in mind, you still need to be able to "do your stuff" if you decide to dress up. Otherwise, your dobak is required.

We generally line up at 1:00 p.m., but it's a good idea, especially if it's one of your first testings, to arrive a bit earlier to give yourself plenty of time to get dressed and warmed up.

When we line up, we'll do a quick warm-up, the judges will enter and be introduced, and then you'll go to the back of the room where you'll sit in two or sometimes three rows -- don't lean against the mirrors. If you are an adult, you can stand in the back. Otherwise, sit quietly until you are called up.

If you need to leave the dojang, a Black Belt will give you permission to do so. If you need help or have a question, ask a Black Belt.

We'll start with black belts, then yellow, orange and white belts. So if you're a white belt, you'll have a chance to see how things work before it's your turn.

When your name is called, you want to jump up with a firm, loud, "Yes, Sir!" or "Yes, Ma'am!" and RUN to the number you've been assigned.

Students are usually most concerned about memorization when it comes to their forms. In actuality, however, the judges consider power, technique and focus first -- memorization is the last thing they're looking for. If you make a mistake, just fix it and move on. You don't need to telegraph to the judges that you've made an error -- they already know that.

Your scores are based on your best work. If the judges ask you to repeat your form, it might be that they're giving you a chance to do better. But it might also be that you did it so well the first time, they want to see it again. Also, if you're asked questions -- how many moves are in your form, or what "ATA" stands for, for instance -- they're looking for a way to give you a higher score.

You've worked very hard to get to ready to test for your next belt rank, and this is your chance to show off everything you've learned so far. If you haven't already figured it out, the judges -- and everyone else -- only wish the best for you and want you to do well!

In the days after the testing, you're going to be wondering if you passed. And, if you did, when will you get your new belt? As far as the belts are concerned, please don't ask us that -- we don't know! They'll arrive when they arrive.

As far as passing goes -- you have to get really lazy or make a huge mess of things NOT to pass. In recent memory, we have had just one student who didn't pass their test, and that's only because they walked out -- literally "left the building!" -- in the middle of it. Don't do that. :-)

But . . . but . . . what if something goes wrong?! Easy -- fix it! You're learning to handle stress, remember? The question isn't whether your testing will go perfectly. The question is: How will you handle it when it doesn't? ;-)