NFKA Gradings & Seminars
Gradings are used by the N.F.K.A to measure the improvement by a student, these take part every three months, the grading panels are made up of four club instructors lead by a Fourth Dan and above, the students club instructor never grades their own students to ensure quality and honesty of gradings. Students must be dressed appropriately in a NFKA karate suit with badge, have the appropriate AMA insurance and have their club instructors permission to grade.
To obtain a new belt should not be an absolute goal for a student or Dan grade. Nevertheless, it can be a short-term personal objective or just the acknowledgement of your progression. Students need to be well prepared for grading’s.
On the day of the grading, you should put all the chances on your side and be ready to give the best of yourself. So, how can you prepare yourself and what mistakes should you avoid? Below are some tips for successful karate grading’s which will help you whether you are a beginner, an advanced student, or even a black belt.
1 – Train
This is certainly the most important point, and it begins several months before the belt exam. If you don’t train regularly you are not giving yourself a chance of passing the grading. Even if you feel like you are stagnating or if you are losing your motivation, try not to miss training. In addition, start your grading preparation as early as possible: learning sparring techniques, basics and sparring forms come with time and repetition.
2 – Learn the combinations
For a coloured belt (kup) exam, your instructor may have teach the basics required to pass the grading. Moreover, you have already been evaluated by her/him, so you know what to expect and what standard to achieve.
3 – Train with different partners
If you don’t want to get bad habits, get out of your comfort zone. Try to practice with different partners when sparring to ensure your techniques work, whoever the opponent is: choose partners with different belt colours, height. On the day of the exam, you will face partners you don’t know, and you will most certainly not be able to choose… so be ready for anything!
4 – Spirit
In martial arts, your mind plays an important part in your progression, and in grading’s as well. So, make a habit of practicing basics or sparring forms the way you are going to do on the day of the belt grading. This includes wearing the karate suit you will take your grading in, not a t-shirt and jogging pants. Give the best of yourself at every training session.
5 – Ask your instructor
Despite your all your efforts, if you doubt or don’t feel ready for the grading, ask your instructor about it. She/He is there to help you, to tell you if you are ready or not, and to help you focus on what you should improve your karate techniques. Of course, you should choose the right time to ask, when your instructor gives you feedback during class, or at the end of the training, not to disturb the other students. Keep in mind that for any grading your instructor has to approve your application.
6 – On the day of the belt grading… be prepared!
Start the grading day by being on time and in shape (no excess on the night before!). It is essential to manage properly your warm up: most of the time, you will not know precisely when it will be your turn, so stay ready. Don’t forget to manage your physical capacity between each exercise (hydration, food, breathing, stretching, etc.).
7 – Stay focused, stay alert
The best way to succeed is to stay focused during the whole grading: don’t speak, laugh or look at your phone. It is also important to respect the other candidates: pay attention to what they do. As you are likely to perform the same techniques as you have to, try not to make the same mistakes as they do if you notice them.
8 – Give your best and stay humble
If after the grading you think you could have done better, it is too bad, but above all, it is too late! Be ready as soon as you enter the grading hall. From the first technique, most often imaginary free sparring, do every technique well and with speed and power and show what you got! Give your best while managing your physical condition all along the grading: you should feel tired at the end. However, don’t forget to control your techniques not to hurt your partners. Under stress, some candidates lose it, trying to beat or hurt their opponents, somehow to prove that their club is the best (which is the best way to fail the grading, of course).
9 – Show your karate, according to your level
Don’t underestimate yourself, but don’t try the impossible either: don’t attempt to show techniques you don’t master, such as head height side kicks or backs kicks just to impress the panel, they often turn into turning kicks. Try to practice the karate that you know and the techniques you have been working on.
10 – Don’t rush and don’t give up
In general, students often try to go too fast when they are under stress while attempting belt grading, and it is true for every part of it (basics, sparring forms, sparring or even pad work.). In the end, it translates into various mistakes: lack of stability, precision, power, and timing. Keep in mind that you should allow the panel to evaluate your technical and mental mastery: so don’t rush it! Moreover, if you make a mistake during an exercise, don’t stop and don’t give up (whether it is during basics or sparring forms): even if you make a mistake, you should go on until the end without showing any loss of focus rather than give up.
There are 2 seminars held during the year.
The seminars are designed to give you a chance to meet other members of NFKA, and to train with them in a friendly atmosphere, and a chance for you to be taught by another clubs instructor.
The seminars also give you an idea as to what to expect in the grading that takes place a few weeks later.
Please Ensure That Your AMA Licence Is Valid Well In Advance Of ANY N.F.K.A Events You Are Taking Part In
What Happens at a Seminar?
It starts with everyone forming up in grades, e.g. All the white belts together, all the red belts together...etc
Then an instructor takes the class for a warm up and stretch session.
The class is then split up into colour groups, and an instructor will take you through grading techniques.
You are given a break after an hour of training, then another warm up and stretching session before being asked to return to your groups, then a different instructor will again go through your grading techniques.
Can Anyone Go To A Seminar?
Places are limited, so are given out on a first come first served basis please see your instructor for more details.
What do I Wear?
You have to wear your full karate suit, as you would for a grading.
What do I Need To Take With Me?
It is advisable to take enough water or juice to last you over 2 hours, because it does get extremely warm, you will also need your sparring equipment if you have any.