In martial arts, the black belt is the highest level of the coloured belts awarded for reaching a certain level of proficiency. Although there are further gradings (tests) available after the black belt has been awarded, at this level the student is already proficient in his chosen martial art -- usually at a teaching level. Preparation for the black belt grading can be as important as the grading itself. If you are not properly prepared -- both mentally and physically -- your body will not cope with the strenuous black belt test.
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Begin your preparation in plenty of time. Study what moves you will be required to demonstrate during the grading so you are familiar with what will be expected. Practice these moves every day, as you can only cram in so much physical information at the last minute. Many of the moves in martial arts require "muscle memory," meaning your body must be used to performing these specific moves. Practice the required moves with a partner as well as alone. Ask someone of a similar level at your martial arts club if he will help out in between classes. If possible, arrange some extra, private tutorials with your instructor.
Intensify your every day fitness training to prepare your body for the high level of physical endurance that the black belt grading requires. Focus on strength, endurance and stretching for extra flexibility. Take a vitamin supplement (available from any supermarket of pharmacy) to ensure your body has all the necessary vitamins. Also spend some time preparing yourself mentally. Meditation can be very beneficial in relaxing the body and focusing the mind. Alternatively, practicing t'ai chihe mind while being beneficial and calming to the body.
Enlist a friend to film you demonstrating the required moves, then watch the video to review your technique and pinpoint any areas that need improvement. It would also be helpful to ask your instructor to watch the footage and give his opinion. If possible, go along to watch other black belt gradings to get a feel for the whole event.
Decrease your training to very light levels the day before the grading to prevent tiring your body out or straining a muscle before the big day, but maintain your stretching exercises. Drink plenty of fluids and have an early night to be sure you are well rested. Finally, on the day of the grading, ensure you have eaten properly and given your food plenty of time to digest, drink lots of fluid -- consider an energy drink to keep your blood sugar levels up -- and take a few minutes to focus your mind.
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