The deadline for the yellow and orange belt tests is quickly approaching. I have done a post or two in the past about ways to prep for a belt test, but I know sometimes the biggest decision is whether or not to sign up for the test. It’s not a small decision. You’re signing yourself up for a three hour (or longer) physical test culminating all your hard work at KMS. I’m sure you have heard at this point how hellacious the yellow belt test can be (don’t rely on anyone that says they didn’t think it was that bad; it will be strenuous if you are putting the effort required into it) For those of you on the fence about whether you are ready or not, here are some things to consider:
How long have I been training?
The minimum time frame for your yellow belt test is 40 classes (orange is 60 classes in six
months), but it often takes longer than that to be fully prepared for the jump between Beginner and Intermediate levels. Not everyone is ready in 40 classes. You are your best gauge for when you will feel most ready and confident for a belt test. Spending a bit more time in Beginner classes means that you will join Intermediate classes with a better foundation; that in turn makes the transition a little smoother for everyone. Just remember that it’s okay if you don’t feel ready in 40 classes. It’s awesome if you feel ready after about 40 classes, and your instructors say to go for it. However, you are not alone if you don’t feel ready. Many of us waited a while before taking the yellow belt test. The ones who wait a little longer are typically the students who stick with Krav Maga long term.
Has your training been consistent?
You will be better prepared for a test if you have had a consistent training schedule. I would
reconsider taking a belt test if you haven’t been in that often in the months leading up to the test. You should be harnessing your skills if you plan on advancing, especially with some of our more complicated skills. The chances of pulling that technique off under pressure successfully will decrease if you have only been in class a handful of times in the months leading up to it. Maintaining a consistent training schedule will help ensure you have a kick-ass test.
Do you know the material?
The skill lists are on the bulletin board for a reason. They are an excellent resource to see what you will be tested on and what type of skills are in upper levels. This helps gauge where you are at so you can ask to review particular skills as the test date approaches. The other benefit to having the lists posted is so you can potentially prep outside of the gym. As you consider taking the test, you should be asking yourself how much of the material you can do by name and without a demonstration or asking for clarification. You will be fine (hopefully) if a high percentage of the material are skills you are comfortable with. I would reconsider taking the next test if most of the material is unfamiliar to you. That is a sign that you need to take more time to prepare yourself properly.
Have you talked to an instructor about testing?
Don’t downplay getting an instructor’s approval before a belt test. Asking the instructor(s) that
you train with the most will highlight areas you should target before a test and enlighten you on whether you should take the test in the first place. Our instructors will be honest if they don’t think you are ready. No one wants you to fail. Ask an instructor if you are still unsure. They will tell you if they think you are ready and will provide feedback on what you can do to get there if they don’t think you are.
Do you feel ready?
Regardless of the above considerations, you have to feel ready before you take this test. You
don’t need to be perfect in every single skill. The proctor is looking for several factors: aggression, technical skill, and endurance. Yes, you have to know the material but you don’t have to get a perfect score before you move on to the next belt. You have to feel reasonably confident that you can walk into that room and perform for three hours or more. You have to do the skills correctly (mostly) even when you feel like curling into a fetal position on the floor. The test sucks for everyone. However, your mental state going in will make or break the test for you. You have to want it, and you have to be kinda mostly sure you can do it. Last minute jitters are normal for everyone, even if you felt confident when you signed up. Remember, there’s no rush to test. Not feeling ready for this one doesn’t mean you won’t feel ready for the next one.
If you do decide to test, things to think about in the next week:
Ask for your weak areas in class.
This is good advice for current and future test takers. Take advantage of our instructors and
their knowledge. Ask for them to go over things in class that you are unsure about. They will
happily go over things. Sometimes there is a large gap between now and when you last did a
skill. No one wants you to fail. Ask.
Take a picture of the skill sheet, and practice techniques dry on your own time.
I highly recommend doing this. Highly, highly recommend. You can practice most of these skills dry. You don’t need a pad or a pad holder to build muscle memory for a motion. This was huge for my yellow belt test. I spent my lunch hour for a couple weeks doing different skills dry. I took this time to quiz myself on the skills so I knew what would be expected of me when that skill was announced. This was also beneficial for the skills I knew I wasn’t great at, such as getting up from the ground. Additionally, Jarret Waldman has all of the yellow belt curriculum on the Krav Maga Unyted YouTube page. Use that resource as well.
Don't train a few days before the test.
Lastly, don’t crush yourself the days leading up to the test. We recommend not training the
Thursday or Friday before your test on Saturday. Give your body a chance to breathe before
you put it through 3-4 hours of hell.
Find a training buddy.
Take a peek at the sign up list and consider who you may want to test with. This is also an
important decision. Try to get some practice time with them before the test. It helps to see how your partner trains before you are in a test setting.
Bring an extra shirt. Bring a mouthguard. If you don’t have a mouthguard, get one. Don’t bank
on everyone having excellent control by the end of the test. On that note, also bring groin
protection. If you don’t have groin protection, get some. Yes, even the ladies. I wear one, and I
will never go back to going without one. Bring water, and drinks lots of it when you have a
chance. Also, this may sound weird, but one of our instructors (Dustin) swears by mustard
packets to alleviate lactic acid buildup. I haven’t tried it but maybe one of you brave souls will.
Again, talk to your instructors if you are unsure. We have all tested at least once. What works
for me may not work for you so ask around to see what other instructors did to get ready for
tests. Good luck to those of you who have made the leap. Test day will be a memorable day for
all of you. For those of you who are choosing to wait, I would recommend watching a yellow or
orange belt test before you actually take one to see what you are in for. This will give you an
opportunity to cheer on your classmates and to see how the test operates. We will see you on
the 20th for the yellow belt test and November 3rd for orange belt!