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Grading Thoughts

By Sarah


As grading approaches there's lots of buzz over whether folks are grading, what level they're going for and what they need to do.

So what's the big deal with grading? If we are training for self-defence do we even need to grade?

Well, the short answer is no, you don't need to grade to learn self-defence. You can learn plenty of practical self-defence skills and make progress in training without putting yourself forward to test. It's always been something that we consider optional at Rencounter.

That being said there are definitely benefits to grading, and it can be a valuable tool for our training.

The preparation for grading helps focus our training, and we know that goal setting is beneficial for learning and keeping us invested in training. A grading gives us a specific goal and timescale to aim for. The prep you do means you should know your syllabus inside and out by the time you go for the test, in a way that you don't get by just attending classes.

Rencounter at Grading

Completing a grading adds an element of stress and challenge to our training that we can't replicate in class. We have more pressure on us, we are training at a higher intensity and dealing with problems when we are already tired. We will be pushed out of our comfort zone. These are qualities that we want for self-defence training. Managing stress and functioning with adrenaline in our system is a key self defence skill, and grading is a great opportunity to practice and find stress management techniques that work for you. You often realise that you are capable of more than you thought you were.

Training and grading are not reality, but it is an opportunity where we can turn up the challenge level, both physically and mentally, that help prepare us should we ever need our skills in reality.

Grading is a progress report, it gives us a marker to see how we are doing in our training, and it's a chance to get an outside perspective from a different instructor on our techniques. It's a great learning opportunity and you can get feedback to help you improve on all your skills as the examiner gets a thorough overview of where you are at. Finishing a grading is an achievement, irrespective of the result.

Failing a grading is still a massive learning opportunity, and I know that many people have found that they learned most at the gradings where they didn't pass.

Linn_G5 Our Head instructor Linn after her first G5 test

Examiners want you to do well and pass, but if your skills aren't where they need to be, grading can help you figure out what you need to work on. For example if you fail a choke defence at a grading, you can go away and work on it and improve it.

It's not a judgement on who you are as a person, your grade is not synonymous with your worth. It just shows us areas where we can improve our skills. Examiner

The real test of our skills would be if we ever had to defend ourselves in reality, where not being able to release from a choke or grab has a much more severe consequence for us.

Grading gives us a sense of accomplishment and achievement - a krav grading is a unique experience - it's great to see your hard work rewarded.

It's good to be excited about grading and focus on training - give it your all - but remember the benefits of grading are in the preparation and the experience that you get from grading, not the patch and the certificate.

Nice as they are, they are not the goal, becoming a better krav practitioner is the goal.


Photos by John MacKinnon at KMG Scotland gradings

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