For quite a while now we’ve been testing the testing system! We’re trying to find the best balance between a few different factors:
- A system that is easily accessible to all members
- A system that has a high level of structure and integrity so that the quality of the grades are as consistent as possible
- A system that allows members to demonstrate their abilities over a period of time rather than a single event
- A system that prevents members from going ungraded for significant periods of time
Our latest iterations have been getting quite close to these objectives but it feels like there is still more that we could do to fulfil objectives 1 & 4. Ultimately this grading system is a great incentive system for members but also from a coaching perspective having everyone ‘graded’ is a great advantage. It will allow us to more accurately structure the classes around the abilities of the members. For example, we might have a class that is only accessible to a certain grades or we might split a drill into a standard version and an advanced version depending on your grade. However, this only works if we can be confident that everyone has actually been graded at the right level. Right now it feels that there are still too many people that either haven’t had the chance to be graded or are sitting at a grade that is no longer appropriate.
So, we’re making some changes to the testing system that we hope will get us closer to our objectives. Here’s the overview:
- Once a student submits themselves for grading, the testing will be carried out on a continuous basis during the sparring/drilling section of classes
- A student can submit themselves for grading once they have completed the minimum amount of sessions on their training record
- The tests themselves will be more generic and less specific so that observations can be carried out more often
- Once the student has been observed to be at the required level in the categories specified and has met the minimum time period between grades they will be promoted
From this week we will be issuing new training records. These training records are very similar to the previous ones, they allow members to record the sessions that they have attended and show the minimum amount of sessions required for each level. However, the number of sessions now represent the number of sessions required to submit yourself for testing rather than the number of sessions required to be promoted. For example, for Level 3 you would have previously required 80 sessions to be considered for promotion, now you will need 60 sessions and at that point you will submit yourself for testing.
The simple way to view this is that each level has two phases:
Phase 1 – attain the minimum amount of sessions to submit yourself for testing
Phase 2 – observations are carried out during performances in class
The training records themselves will now have a dual purpose, they will record the sessions for each student and then the training record will be submitted when complete and used to record the testing observations.
For the testing phase itself we are going to be more generic with the tests, this will allow us to make continual observations on anyone who is in the testing phase rather than having to specifically set up each individual test with each student. So from now the testing will be against general areas of performance rather than specific test scenarios.
The areas of performance we will be observing will be broken down into the three core ranges plus takedowns, so:
- Long range (standing striking)
- Close range (standing clinch / cage work)
- Ground range
Against each of these ranges will we then make observations that will differ between junior grades and senior grades as follows:
For grades 1-3:
For grades 4-6:
- Technical variety
This then gives us a testing matrix that we will make our observations against, so for junior grades it would be as follows:
This is what you will see on your new training records so that you will have a reminder of the areas you will be tested against and once your training record is submitted it will be used to record the observations.
There are a couple of final observations that we will be recording; for both juniors and seniors we will have an additional category of ‘Spirit’, which will be a general observation of mental strength and then for senior grades there will be one more additional category of ‘Tactics’ to allow us to grade your decision making in various situations.
For those members who have already filled up existing training records you will be able to submit those from this week and go straight into the testing phase. For those members that don’t have a training record currently we will make an assessment of the session credits that we owe you and get you into the system accordingly.
This should only take a few weeks to be established so we will begin this immediately and expect to be in full operation by the end of March.