Testing – Take it all in stride

From time to time each of us are faced with a “test” of some sort. At NKM&BJJ, those “tests” are typically for belt rank or stripe rank. While there are many that battle the worthiness of a test, I will readily admit that I see these “tests” from both sides of the argument. The fact remains that at NKM&BJJ it is a requirement, therefore arguing over it is moot. So here I am preparing for an upcoming test.

In the past, I have nearly committed numerous acts of violence upon many family members and innocent bystanders in preparation for a test. I have a LONG history with various tests (driving, academics, etc.) My nerves do not handle testing well. I typically experience difficulty sleeping and find myself losing the ability to think clearly about pretty much anything.

I have participated in a couple of tests at our school so far and observed several as well. Needless to say, Jiu Jitsu tests have been a mind blow for me in the past. As each day crept closer to a test, I doubted my ability, my techniques, my skills, my cardio, etc. Will I get that technique right? Will I remember everything? Will I look like a fool and embarrass myself?

Let me interject here, for those that don’t know. A krav belt test is run with all participants testing simultaneously. It is similar to a regular class, in that you partner up and do your techniques together. However, it is different from class as the intensity and duration is significantly amped up. You are committing to several hours of demonstrating techniques, multiple instructors watching you, and you are plumb exhausted. At our school, a Jiu Jitsu belt/stripe test is very different. You must stand in front of your peers, by yourself, and in front of your head instructor, and demonstrate whatever technique that he calls out to you. Each participant may be working on different stripes or belts. For me, I believe that standing alone in front of others is far harder than blending into the crowd of participants, however others may see it differently.

Back to my story.

As I am now approaching yet another test, something new has occurred. I seem far less worried, far less concerned about what the others think of my failings, and far less concerned with whether I’m an inch or a mile closer to the next stripe or belt color. How the heck did that happen?

I changed. My overview of Jiu Jitsu changed. My view of MY Jiu Jitsu changed. Maybe Jiu Jitsu has been the catalyst to change me. I really don’t know. It’s just different.

Understand, this is significant for me. As I mentioned, testing for anything has always troubled me. When I was in high school, I had to take one of the big exams that you submit your scores to colleges to see if you can attend. The day of the test, someone said to me, “This will determine whether you go to college or flip burgers the rest of your life.” Talk about pressure. Needless to say, I think I got my name right on the test and that was about it. I was too worried about what that test said about me.

I guess I had viewed my BJJ tests similarly. I regarded how I performed on that day, in that instance, as defining who I am in Jiu Jitsu. Let me just say, I now realize that’s a load of crap.

A singular event does not and will not define me or what I do. I am the same person from the moment I walk into our building to the moment I walk out. My Jiu Jitsu is what I have learned so far. Key words there – so far. The test does not define (or confine) me. The test actually frees me to learn more, do more, grow more.

On test day will I do some techniques correctly – yes. Is it possible that I do some incorrectly – I hope not, but I could miss some details. Will the test define me – no. Will this singular test show that I am a hard worker, eager to learn, willing to dedicate my time, willing to sacrifice my body, mind, and spirit to learn it – no. All of that is a part of who I am. Jiu Jitsu continues to enlighten me about myself every single day.

So as I sit here as an upcoming test taker, if I had to share some advice about testing, Jiu Jitsu or Krav, I would say take it all in stride. A test is not a stopping point, it is not a completion (or competition). It is only a doorway that you walk through to continue in your journey. Should you feel proud of yourself for passing a test? Absolutely! But your very next step should be to walk into the next class. Keep on growing.

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