What I Learned About Martial Arts Promotions

After more than two decades of martial arts, I’ve been able to make clearer the requirements of ranking up or getting promoted. My personal experience was grown from getting ranked myself but most importantly ranking those under my tutelage. My students were the biggest teacher in clarifying this evergreen question of the arts. Let’s get into it in this article.

How to Get Promoted

Firstly, I’ll just list the ever asking question on how to get ranked up. Its pretty simple. Not every instructor will tell you. I will so here’s the list:

  1. Accumulate class hours: This is the easiest part. Just show up and sign in.
  2. Demonstrate the technique: Do this without coaching.
  3. Apply the technique: Show me you can perform it in a live. Difficulty will vary depending on your rank.
  4. Personal growth: Present your personal growth through your natural best. It can range from weight loss, improved positive mindsets, etc. To each their own because everyone is different.

The above list is what is described on the documentation of my programs at Impact and in its app. If you’re here to see what my criteria is, here you go.

Accumulate the Hours

The idea is to be consistent through a regular schedule or routine. I’ll observe a new student ambitious to make a change in their life by coming in everyday for about two weeks then fizzle out. Another new student that comes in everyday might finish a whole month. Others will push through three months of everyday training get their first promotion, celebrate the achievement, then disappear after that.

The point here is consistency over the long term. Even though ambition is admirable, too much too soon will hurt the trait they’ve acted on in the first place. The normal prescription of training is and, in my opinion, will always be two times per week. Increasing it to three and above might be for certain short term goals like competing, but two training sessions per week will sustain a martial arts lifestyle in the most efficient way.

Demonstrate the Technique

Just like any test, show that you know the material without help. Now, I wouldn’t expect a brand new student to perform at a black belt level. I’d like to see how close they can get with the understand that has been built. The secret ingredient here is their effort. I like to tell students to show me the technique in what they think what a black belt’s effort would feel like. They would show me and I would say something like, “That’s exactly what it feels like. Your confidence comes from demonstrating like that. Keep practicing like that and it will truly be yours.”

Apply the Technique

Performing live against resistance is the essence of martial arts else its false security. I believe the techniques that is taught should work. If a student can show that they are applying what they’ve learned to the degree a testable situation calls for, then the work they’ve put into it will show. That’s as simple as it gets. Does a student have to be 100% successful? No. That would not be reasonable especially if they are a beginner. The test is around the idea of how they first started to where they are now. The progress will show in the degrees of success which is a great bridge to the last item on the list.

Personal Growth

So with consistency, deliberate practice and applying it in situations, all students find their growth. In all honesty, this last criteria isn’t mine to define. Its the student’s. All a student has to do is become the idea of themselves they initially started with when they first walked in the door. The degree of pride they show is what I like to use as a sign they passed their own idea of this item.

Final Thoughts

Simply enjoying the process of growing is a reward that I think is unlimited. Walking the path is a challenging, but it is well worth it. Earning whatever you wanted for yourself is a place of confidence. It WILL lead you towards what you’re looking for.

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