First Grading & Grading Reminders – Top Tips and What to Expect

Tips for First Grading students and More Experienced Graders!

Find out what your first grading will be like and for our more experienced students, take a moment to checkout our tips for getting the best out of your next colour belt examination.

(That’s a real-life grading picture you can see on the left!)

FIRST GRADING?   Have a look at our checklist and ‘what to expect’ information

BEEN TO A GRADING BEFORE?  Have a look at our  tips & reminders 

First Grading Checklist:

~ Know what date, time and venue your grading is taking place.

~ Wear the right suit!  If you’ve been one of our Ninjas, then you are able to wear your black Ninja Kids suit for the first grading only.   Everyone else (and ‘ex- Ninjas’ from yellow stripe onwards) MUST wear their full white TAGB suit.  Please contact Mr Schembri if you don’t have one yet.  You can do this in class or send a message here

~ Make sure you wear your current belt – for first graders of course, this is your white belt.

~ You should remove any jewellery (as far as possible) and if you’ve got long hair, tie it back

~ Plan to arrive about 15 minutes before the start of the grading – this gives you time to settle in and have a last minute practice.  (It’s worth allowing a bit of extra time for car parking too)

~ Please keep bags to a minimum – there’s limited space in the room.

~ Know your pattern!  Here it is if you want to remind yourself.  You need to watch Sajo Jirugi No 1

~ Know your theory!  There’s lots – but if you don’t learn anything else, know what your pattern is called, what your belt means and how to count up to 10 in Korean.  If you want to remind yourself, take a look here

~ Listen to the instructions that you will be given before the grading starts

~ Listen out for your name when it’s time for you to actually grade – sounds obvious but you’d surprised how easy it is to miss your name when you’re nervous and/or excited to get going.

~ Please be courteous to other students – sit quietly while everyone takes their turn at grading.

~ Take a deep breath (remember to breathe out!) and relax

PARENTS/GUARDIANS:   If possible, we will let the lower grade belts leave before the end of the full grading.  Please check with one of the Grading Assistants or Examiners when you drop your child off and they will give you an approximate time to collect your child/ren.

What’s it going to be like in the room?

There’ll be lots of people there – some you’ll know from your class and some will be new faces.   Sometimes, we might share our gradings with another school and you’ll meet their instructors and students too.  Don’t worry though, everyone is feeling just like you.  If you’re feeling a bit worried, just remember that the examiners all want you to do well so they’re not there to try to catch you out – they were white belts doing their first grading once!

You’ll be asked to leave your shoes at back or side of the room – as mentioned on the checklist there is limited space so please don’t bring anything that’s not essential.

Meet your Grading Officials:

Grading Examinations – led by Mr Schembri who will be ‘on the floor’ with you to guide you through the practical elements of your test.

Chief Examiner:  Master Gianni Peros 8th Dan and Wales Co-ordinator for the TAGB (Tae Kwon Do Association of GB).  Master Peros will be at the front of the room behind his desk where he’ll have everyone’s details set out before him, ready to see you in action.

Theory Examiners:  These vary but will either be experienced Black Belts from JSTKD or they may be Instructors from other clubs.

Grading Assistants:  These vary too but they are chosen from our junior Black Belts. You’ll see them in the room when you go in so don’t be afraid to go up to them and ask a question if you’re unsure about anything.  Although they might not look very old, they know all about gradings – think how many they’ve done to reach their Black Belt 🙂

What happens when it’s my turn to grade?

You’ll be pleased to hear that we always start with the yellow stripes so that you can see what happens before it’s your turn.  White belts do their grading second once the yellow stripes have set the scene for you.

Now it’s your turn!  First of all you’ll be called out by name so please listen carefully – you need to stand up promptly and say “Yes Sir” clearly, when you hear your name.  If there are lots of students there will be several groups so you might not be called straight away if that happens.  Mr Schembri or one of the Grading Assistants will check after the last group, to make sure everyone has been called and if you haven’t been up to do your pattern then please tell them.

Once you’re in place, we usually start off with 10 press-ups to warm you up and then it’s onto the line work.  Mr Schembri will be there to tell you each move you need to do and will also demonstrate these for you.  They’ll be things that you will have done in class and/or moves from your pattern, such as a block.  Just follow Mr Schembri’s instructions and you’ll be fine.

Next it’s time to do your pattern and again, you will have Mr Schembri to count it through just like you’ve practiced in class.  Make your moves nice and sharp and remember to count aloud after Mr Schembri.

When your pattern is finished, the Grading Assistants will take you over to the Grading Examiners who will be sat either to the back or side of the room.  The Examiner will ask you a mixture of questions and perhaps ask you to demonstrate a move – the moves will be from your pattern and the top tip for the questions is……know what your pattern is called.

Phew!  You can go back to where you were sitting, breathe a big sigh of relief and enjoy watching the other students go through their gradings.

BEEN TO A GRADING BEFORE?  Here’s some tips & reminders for you too……

It’s worth just reminding our more experienced students of a few basic things that you can do to improve your performance at gradings.   These are things we all know we should do but sometimes we don’t actually do them!

~ Be confident – even if you don’t feel it!   So, start off with a good clear “Yes Sir” when your name is called and take your place on the grading floor.  Stand tall and think positive thoughts.

~ Make it count – out loud!  For the line work, remember it’s not just the first grading students who need to count aloud when showing their moves – when Mr Schembri counts out the moves, you need to do the same no matter what grade you are.  Depending on what belt you are, you will then either perform your pattern to Mr Schembri’s count (so if that’s the case, then you need to count too) or as you move onto the higher colour belts, you will perform your pattern in your own time.

~ “Sell” your pattern…. that’s not a typo!  Of course you need to know your pattern but how you present it is just as important as knowing the specific moves if you want to stand out from the crowd.  Make your moves sharp and accurate – if it’s supposed to be a high block then make it a high block!   See all the patterns here

~ Here’s another obvious sounding one but you’d be surprised how many students don’t do it – it really helps if you look in the direction you’re supposed to be going!  So, if for instance if your move is going to be to the left, then look to the left before you do it – it will help you to have that ‘sharp’ appearance to go with your sharp moves (see above)

~ Learn some theory – at the very least know the name of your pattern, how many moves it has and what it means.  You should be making an effort to learn the Korean names for your moves too, as the examiner might ask you to demonstrate something, using the Korean name instead of the English one.   Help can be found in the Student Resources section – “coloured belts”

~ Make sure you know what elements will be in your grading so that you aren’t surprised by anything on the day – depending on your belt this can vary.  For everyone, it will include line work, your pattern and examiners’ questions.  Blue belts and above, please remember that extra elements will be needed, such as having to show an additional pattern (or two depending on your belt) as well as knowing some step sparring moves. 

Please also note that everyone from GREEN BELT and above will need to bring their SPARRING KIT as you will be demonstrating your FREE SPARRING skills before the full grading gets underway

If you’re not sure please ask – you owe it to yourself to be well prepared.

One last thing of course – GOOD LUCK EVERYONE 🙂