Martial Arts Grading: Oral Section
Many Taekwondo schools would require grading students to mouth out the names and the meanings associated with the patterns. I thought of doing this as well, but stopped short when I realised that after the short term memory fades, so will the meaning of the patterns be forgotten.
I still wanted an oral section, and I wanted the section to help build a better black belt and a better martial artist. So I made sure that my oral tests would really be a test for the student. I started doing this about two years ago for senior students - I would ask them to compare different techniques in the same taekwondo pattern or different patterns. Whilst huffing and puffing from the rest of the grading, the oral section puts them on the spot and forces them to think about the technique, perform a critical analysis of what I asked for, and then verbalize their answer. This is what I wanted from my students - to make them pragmatic instructors, thinking fighters (as opposed to Taebo instructors).
Last weekend I brought this level of difficulty down to 7th kyu. Aside from other things, I asked my student to perform "Step 13-14" from Dan-gun - a past kata. I deliberately left out the description of the technique (which was lower and upper blocks) so that he'd be forced to run through the kata in his mind, count the steps (with everyone looking at him in expectation), and then perform this. And the best thing that happened? He counted the steps wrongly and performed the wrong technique - so was placed in another predicament and forced to re-access his counting.
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