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how to pass martial arts exams

A Must Have Guide to Pass EVERY Martial Arts Exam!

Posted: July 01, 2016

Martial arts exams are not quite the same as other regular, sit-down exams. In order to succeed in a martial arts exam you need to put a lot of effort into it.

A combination of physical and mental preparation is required in order to ascend through the martial arts levels and become a true martial artist.

Bruce Lee clearly states what the real form of a true martial artist should be and what the end result should look like:

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” 
– Bruce Lee


How can I, as a martial artist, become like water?

What Bruce Lee describes is someone that possesses a perfect balance between his or her mental and physical dimension. That perfect balance is obtained through years and years of preparation and hard work. But only by taking small steps towards that direction can someone reach that state.

Every exam you pass is a step towards becoming a true martial artist because each level requires more mental and physical balance than the previous one.


What do you need in order to succeed in every round of your martial arts exams?

Here is a list of the four stages you must go through in order to be fully prepared and ready to pass your martial arts exams.


  1. Physical and Technical readiness

The first and most important rule is hard training. You cannot achieve anything with just talent or a few smart moves or techniques.

As Maurice Green, the Olympic Games Gold medalist, said about hard training To be number one, you have to train like you’re number two”.

That is more than true! Here are a few tips when training to compete in order to pass your martial arts exams.

  • Do regular cardio exercises before your exams. Include aerobic, anaerobic and explosive exercises in your training schedule. By doing all three of the above you improve your overall metabolic process.
  • Train hard on your martial arts basics. Don’t underestimate the basics. They are your foundation.
  • Practice all the material you are going to be tested on and focus more on your weaknesses.
  • Work hard on your positioning and master all the techniques of your martial art.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least one month prior to the exams.
  • Ask your instructor to help you improve your weak points and give you tips on how to take advantage of your strong points.
  • Stay after class and train more than the rest of the group.
  1. Mental preparedness

Being mentally ready is as important and crucial as being physically and technically topnotch. When performing martial arts your mental and spiritual health can be the most defining reason between failure and success.

Mental preparation as you can understand needs careful provision. Check out a few ways to get mentally ready before a martial arts exam.

  • When you train everyday act as if it is your testing day rather than just a training day. That way you will give your best every time and when the day of the exam comes it would be just another day.
  • Have fun! Enjoy your martial art. It is not something someone forces you to do. It is your way of living. Martial arts are more than just a hobby!
  • Don’t forget to encourage yourself even if training didn’t go as expected. Speak to yourself and be the best encourager!
  • Create milestones and celebrate your success when reaching one.
  • Visualize yourself on the platform, receiving congratulations for passing the exams.
  • Think of passing the exams as the next step of your evolution as a martial artist and failing as a valuable lesson you needed to learn.


  1. Understanding the exams

One very important part of any martial arts exam and one that causes a lot of disqualifications and ultimately leads to not passing them is the failure of understanding and having the required knowledge of the exam’s official rules and requirements.

Knowing and understanding exactly what is expected of you is vital to passing a martial arts exam. How can you be certain that you are fully prepared?

Check out these tips:

  • Be certain that you know and have understood in full what is expected from you in order to pass the exam.
  • Don’t try to impress by doing more than you are supposed to. Stick to what you are required to do.
  • Ask your instructor for specific and more analytical instructions in case you are not 100% certain about something. Remember, every organization has different rules.
  • Don’t forget to ask about the order of the events you are going to be tested on. That way there will be no surprises.


  1. The day of the exams

The last stage is as important as the previous ones. When the day of the actual exam comes you must follow some steps in order to dismiss the anxiety and be physically and mentally ready.

Here they are:

  • First of all, calm and reassure yourself that everything will go as planned. You have prepared yourself mentally and physically and you are just a few hours away of obtaining the fruit of your labor.
  • Arrive earlier than the time you are supposed to in order to warm up and do the appropriate stretches, so as to prevent any injuries.
  • When you are performing, do it with full force.
  • Concentration is vital. Concentrate on the session at hand and don’t worry about the ones that are following.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake. It is completely natural and the judges do understand. Concentrate and give your best shot to the remainder of the exam, you will not be judged for that mistake alone, but in your overall performance.
  • Try to remove any anxiety and trust yourself, your hard work and your abilities.
  • Keep stretching throughout the intervals of the exam in order to be ready and reduce the chances of an injury.
  • Don’t forget any gear you are required to have with you.


I really hope these four stages of preparation for any martial arts exam will help you. Feel free to add anything else you might think it would assist you in this martial arts journey you have embarked.

Lastly, believe in yourself and good luck!