Success in a promotion test is not magic---it is preparation, practice and endurance.

The most important preparation that you can do for your upcoming promotion test is to come to your classes regularly and consistently. Time with your instructor is the single most important preparation that you can do. Consistent practice develops the physical endurance that you will need to complete the many repetitions and longer segments of your test.

Sparring is more than simply “fight” practice. When you spar in class, try to use the moves that are required for your next test. Don’t just wildly fight your sparring partner, use the required moves and see for yourself how they are employed in real-world defense applications. Valuable experience can be gathered if both sparring partners agree to do this.

Study, recite and perform all of the requirements for one belt rank each morning and evening for one week. Do it in the order of the ranks or choose a different requirement sheet each week. There will be no anxiety during your next test.

Very often, candidates come to their promotion tests with apprehension about making mistakes and a fear of failure. Mr. Gallagher wants to help everyone overcome this fear. Take a long breath and try to relax---No one at ESA wants you to fail your test. We all want you to succeed and advance to your next higher belt rank with dignity and honor. Prepare yourself accordingly, your Student Portfolio has everything that is expected of you. Understand and accept the fact that mistakes will be made by everyone at the test. (Some of Mr. G’s BEST bloopers have occurred during promotion tests...) Be okay with it. Laugh and keep going. Shake it off. The evaluators are seasoned students, and they can look through the mistakes to see if you have properly prepared. Even if you make mistakes during your test, do it with intensity and confidence. Little things are often forgiven and not counted against candidates who have obviously prepared for their test. You will win with an attitude for gold. The evaluators know that errors and stage fright are normal and common (because they all made those same mistakes too), and such moments will not be counted against you if you emerge strong and courageous afterwards. Please understand that Redo’s are NOT punishments or admissions of failures, they are only do-overs to make sure that you have met the traditional Kukkiwon standards of training, testing and advancement. Redo's are your big chance to prove that those mistakes were just goofs, and that you REALLY DO know your moves and memorization.

Do not come to a test as a candidate if you have not diligently prepared. Practice self-evaluation and integrity before you sign-up to take a test. If you are not ready, admit it to yourself and to your Instructor(s), and refrain from participating in that test. It is much more dignified and far more honorable to attend the test to watch and learn rather than attend a test as a candidate when you have not properly prepared. The evaluators were chosen because they have the experience to discern if the candidates really know their requirements or if they are simply mimicking the other candidates in the room. Timidity, looking around at other people before committing to action, and consistently delayed performance are all evidence of unpreparedness during a test and the evaluators WILL see it.

Students are required to write an essay when testing for a solid-color belt. Your Student Portfolio gives the topics and the details of those writing assignments. As soon as you receive the new requirements sheet for your next solid-color rank, start thinking about the topic and then start writing it down. Start early, and you will have weeks or months to make it perfect. You won’t have to hurry and worry through the composition of an essay in the last few days or hours prior to a test. Bad style, misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and illegible writing are unacceptable for a promotion test. Also, write your essay formally as if you will read it out loud to the entire group---because you will.

Don’t wait for the date of your test to break a pine board for the first time. Buy a couple of pine planks at a Big Box store like Home Depot, and have an employee cut them into foot-long segments. Practice breaking those boards using the punches and kicks that your next test will require. On the date of your test, you’ll break your board with speed, accuracy, and complete confidence. One last thing: Practice your board breaking until you are no longer kicking the fingers of the person who is holding your board. The act of board breaking simulates breaking a bone. When you kick the fingers of the person who is holding your board, there is a risk that you could break their fingers. Practice your techniques so that you have complete control over the aim and action of your attack---so that you don't kick a friend's fingers. If you can break boards but you're not completely assured that you will not kick the fingers of the person holding your board, then you are not yet finished practicing your board breaking.

Some promotion tests require a segment of sparring, and your evaluator will be watching. Remember all of those required moves that you learned in class since your last test? Perform those required moves during your test’s sparring segment, and you will have fewer redo’s after the test is over.

At the beginning of your training classes, you can raise your hand and ask your instructor(s) to cover the material that you need to know and practice for the next test. If you have any questions, just look at the colors of the belts in the room to find the students who can give you the answers.

The One on One Self-Defense moves included in almost every test sometimes present problems for students. If you are not confident that you can perform these moves properly and fluidly, then raise your hand during your weekly training classes before your test and ask for deomnstrations and practice time.

If your Student Portfolio requires you to lead stretching or teach classes before you are allowed to take your next test, then it is your responsibility to ensure that these requirements are met. Each student is expected to talk to their instructor(s) and schedule themselves to lead stretching, teach classes, etc. These requirements are not frivolous or petty---they are the lessons that Mr. Gallagher promised to give you in the arts of leadership & command.

If you are planning to receive a Probationary Black Belt at your next test, Mr. G wants you to learn how to properly tie a black belt now. Any Black Belt student at ESA would be happy to teach you. You are expected to tie your new Black Belt properly and quickly at your presentation ceremony.

The Student Portfolio requires students to attend and participate in an ESA Tournament periodically. If you want to know what to expect before you participate in the Tournament, you can attend a competition with ESA’s Elite or World Class Teams throughout the year. Some of these competitions are held in Denver and Colorado Springs, and make a great day-trip for the entire family.