English: vector version of BJJ White Belt.png

English: vector version of BJJ White Belt.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting Ready for 9 Kyuu

Ready. Set. Go. Great job. You’ve made it past your first hurdle and completed the full lesson set for the white belt material! Now it’s all about practicing and getting everything down pat. Under normal scenarios, students usually are at the white belt level for around 3-4 months (sometimes longer, sometimes quicker). Again, this is not a race, but a marathon. I would much rather see you learn only one move, and one move perfectly in 2 months, than 500 moves that you will soon forget in 20 days. Part of ranking up within the system is not only getting to a certain level of proficiency (your best for this level), but also ensuring that you have the techniques and materials down at a theoretical level – not just mechanical.

What this means is that you will need to practice, practice, and practice some more, until you are able to do the moves in your sleep. A really good indicator of if you are ready for your Beige black stripe belt test is if you start dreaming you are doing the moves, and the moves in your dream are done correctly (as far as you can remember – less the laser beams coming out of your fingertips). So the question really becomes, what do you do now, and where do you go from here?

Mentoring & Coaching

As part of the CMATOS system, we offer free email consultations with our instructors (in addition to paid consultations). Please take advantage of this service as we are here to help you along your training path. I would recommend sending in your videos early and often so we can make sure you are on the right track. Regular check ins with the instruction team also give us valuable feedback that we can incorporate into our free online martial arts lessons.

A good plan of attack is planning on scheduling your lessons to correspond to your regularly scheduled training blocks. Once you’ve identified a technique or form, and feel comfortable enough to move onto the next lesson, shoot us an email or send us a video of you performing so we can give you feedback to bring into your training. This way you improve incrementally as you go along rather than trying to cram everything in the day before you are scheduled to test.

Reviews

A real good rule of thumb is once you feel 100% comfortable with the material, spend the next 2-3 weeks refining and practicing the material before considering the material test worthy. Don’t get concerned if you find yourself having to go back and re-read or re-watch any of our lesson material. It is designed to be learned in segments – the first time you learn, you pick up one thing, the next time through, you pick up something else. Reviews are an integral part of your martial arts training. If you aren’t scheduling regular reviews of your material, then something is wrong. At the very least you should be watching and reviewing the material at least 3 times.

  1. The initial time you watch the material you are just getting a general idea about what you are about to learn.
  2. The first time you review the material you are learning what you are supposed to learn. You may be watching it many times during this first review (seeing the proper hand and foot placement, etc…)
  3. The second time you review the material you are reviewing what you thought you learned.
  4. The third time you review the material you are ensuring that you understand 100% of what was being taught and can confidently teach or discuss the material with others.

In a lot of schools, they use the “tip” system to break up the progress between ranking. You earn your first tip (usually black) once you have mastered the first half of the material, you earn your second tip once you have mastered the second half of the material. Usually some time goes by, and the instructors keep reviewing the material with the students, once the instructor deems the student has shown a sufficient level of proficiency, they give them their final tip (usually red), indicating that the student is ready to be tested for their next belt. At this point and time, it is usually a matter of scheduling the student into the next testing window (by that time they are the next rank in all but belt and recognition). The tests in these systems are just formalities and celebrations of the promotions rather than a day of do or die progress. There are instances where students won’t pass the test the first time around (due to some unusual situation and really poor performance), but the pass rate is usually in the high 97% percentile – the testing and proficiency demonstration was done as part of the standard lessons and classes.

Because of the way testing works with CMATOS, it strongly behooves you to review the material, send in the material for review, and practice it until you are 110% sure that you are ready to test. Don’t worry if it’s taking you 6 months to get a technique down or new form – again it’s not a race. Additionally, your testing will also require you to demonstrate all your previous material as well as your current, so you will need to make sure you don’t study to the test and only learn the new material, but are constantly reviewing and revising your previous material along the way.

Testing

You’ve worked hard, put in a lot of time and practice to get your material down – you deserve to have your efforts recognized. This is why CMATOS offers official ranking through our system. It is not required at all, but it does put a capstone on your training and allows you to confidently say you are ready to start learning the new material in the next belt. Although it is not required, it is extremely recommended that you pursue ranking within the CMATOS system so that you can ensure that the material you are learning is at the appropriate level of proficiency for your belt ranking level. In addition, it makes sure that your skill level matches up with your current belt level so that you don’t wind up in a situation where your “belt level” doesn’t match up with your skill and you have to work to bring your skill level up to the required belt level.

Because we offer the free online mentoring, it is completely conceivable that a student learns all the CMATOS material for free, and only ends up paying for their final Black Belt test. This is a perfectly reasonable approach – the problem, is that because the student has not achieved rank in any of the previous material, their test will need to be doubly scrutinized, and the testing process may lead to multiple tests needing to occur before the student is granted the rank of Shodan. By testing along the way, while there is the added cost, you have a record of your training with CMATOS and it is much easier for us to rank a certified Jun Ichi-Dan student to Shodan, than it is for us to rank a no-ranked student directly to Shodan. The end result is that if you are going to put the time and effort studying the CMATOS material, you should feel pretty proud about getting yourself ranked within our system.

Another way to look at it – in person Martial Arts schools usually cost anywhere between $150 and $200 per month to attend (mostly due to the cost of insurance and space rental). If you spend, on average 4 months per belt level, you are looking at around $800 in fees for your next belt rank with in person lessons (not to mention any fees for uniforms, testing, transportation, schedule interruptions, etc…), with CMATOS you pay a flat $50 for an under belt ($25 for enrolled distance learning members) ranking test. If you’ve had all your material already reviewed by the CMATOS staff and you have practiced and reviewed to the point of 110% confidence, the test becomes just another formality. Because we want everyone to be successful and we understand that some people have financial difficulties, please contact us to discuss alternative payment options, payment plans, and reduced rates based on financial need and your situation.

The testing process is relatively painless for under belts – you basically record yourself performing all your material both individually, as well as with a partner from 2 separate camera angles to ensure full coverage of your movements. Please see the video testing requirements page for more information as to what you need to include in the test. Unlike black belt tests, these videos will be kept private unless you wish to share them.

Concluding Thoughts

Keep up the great work. Get ready for your test (send us your mentoring requests so we can get you on the right path). And we look forward to seeing you on the other side of the finish line with your brand new Beige black stripe belt.

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