This article will provide you with specific information regarding our next Rank Testing on June 26th and 27th, as well as with some General Information for our newer students who might not be familiar with the process. First, here’s an overview of how the testing process works. At Kowkabany’s Family Martial Arts Center in Tampa, Florida, we hold our rank testings in our school every other month (Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct, Dec) for students who have proven during their regular lessons that they are ready to test for higher rank. Traditionally, karate and taekwondo testings were held in front of the Masters of the art, and we still maintain that tradition. Our testings are certified by the American Taekwondo Association (ATA), with Chief Master Laura Kowkabany (8th Degree Black Belt) and Sr. Master David Kowkabany (7th Degree Black Belt) are always on the panel overseeing the testing. In our academy, we have the authority to test our students locally through the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt. For our bi-monthly testings, we test our Tiny Tigers separately, while the Karate Kids and Adult Martial Arts Students test together, although split out by ranks. White through Purple Belts always test on the first day (usually Wednesday), and Blue through Black Belts test on the second day (usually Thursday). Tiny Tigers: These testings are lead by Chief Master Laura Kowkabany, and we place more emphasis on the quality of technique and discipline than on pure memorization. White through Purple Belts: These testings are lead by the “Floor Judge,” one of our Assistant Instructors or Leadership Black Belts. While this is an actual testing, we realize that the lower ranks will be nervous as they become accustomed to a testing environment and perform in front of a panel of judges and an audience. While there is some emphasis put on memorization of the material, we are still very much focused on the quality of technique and a Black Belt attitude. Blue through Red Belts: These are high-rank color belts who are getting very close to testing for their First Degree Black Belt. The standards at this level are noticeably higher than in the lower ranks, and students are judged not only on the quality of their techniques, memorization and performance, but also on presenting their material with a high-rank attitude and plenty of energy! Black Belts: Our Black Belt students are held to the highest standards in the organization, and these students prepare through a series of midterm testings as well as hundreds of hours training; in addition to knowing their material, they are also required to have full knowledge of the low-rank forms and sparring combinations. Families and friends are encouraged to watch the testings, and cameras are always welcome. All students who are testing should wear a clean, pressed dobok (uniform), complete with patches a Kowkabany’s school patch and an ATA patch. A white undershirt is optional but not required (it must be tucked in), however, no other color t-shirt may be worn under the dobok top. Students at the rank of Camouflage Belt and above should also bring all of their sparring gear, and Black Belts who are midterming should bring any weapons required for their midterm. Students are asked to register for testing no later than the day before the first Rank Testing, ideally several days before, as this allows us to run the testings in a timely manner. Remember, in addition to your test fee, your annual ATA membershp must be current or renewed at the time of your registration. The results for low-rank students (White through Blue Belts) will be announced immediately after the individual testings. However, the results for Brown Belts through Black Belts will be announced the following week during a special Rank Ceremony, with the specific day provided at the end of the testing. Black Belts who attend the testings as spectators should be dressed neatly (no blue jeans or shorts) appropriate for their rank. We also ask that everyone at the testing, those testing and those watching, please mute their cell phones during the testing. If you must take a phone call during this time, please step outside to complete your call. The students have worked very hard to prepare for this event, and we want to minimize interruptions. June’s Rank Testing: White Belts: These students will be testing for the first time, and as we anticipate they will be nervous, they will be lead through each element by the Floor Judge. Mistakes are expected, so the emphasis will be on the student’s effort as much as on the quality of technique. White Belts will be lead through Songahm I (the first form), their White Belt Sparring Combinations, and the White Belt One-Steps. Orange and Yellow Belts: These students will also be lead through their material by the Floor Judge, and they will present Songahm II (form), the Orange/Yellow Sparring Combinations, and the Yellow Belt One-Steps. Camo, Green and Purple Belts: Students at this level should be able to perform all of the material (forms, sparring combinations) without assistance, although the Floor Judge will assist them should they need a little help. Stances and techniques should show noticeable improvement at this level, and will be demonstrated in the June testing by presenting Songahm V and the Camo/Green Sparring Combinations. All students at this level will also Free Spar during testing, so they should bring their full sparring gear. Purple Belts will also attempt a board break using a hand technique, although the score for this break will not be a factor in their advancement (it is to help them to prepare for their future testings). Blue, Brown, and Red Belts: These high-rank Color Belts will perform Choong Jung I and the Brown/Red Sparring Combinations without assistance, followed by Free Sparring and then Board Breaking. While the board break score is not a factor for the Blue Belts, it does play an important role in determining the final results for the Brown, Red and Black Belts. As such, it is strongly recommended that these students practice their board breaks several times per week on targets outside of class, and seek assistance from one of our Instructors should they need a little extra assistance. (The Board Break requirement for each rank are posted on the school bulletin board.) 1st Black Recommended: These Black Belts should be prepared to perform at their absolute best, from their conditioning to the quality of their technique. These testing candidates will perform Choong June I, the Black Belt Sparring Combination, Free Sparring, and the appropriate Board Breaks. Black Belt Midterms: Black Belts who are performing midterms are expected to be fully prepared as far in advance as possible for their testings, and will demonstrate three out of the following four elements: Black Belt Forms, Free Sparring, Board Breaking, and Protech Weapons. A full list of the requirements for each midterm and rank is posted on the bulletin board in the school. In addition, these students must be continually training in class and exhibit all of the Life Skills expected of a Black Belt… respect, courtesy, honesty, loyalty, perseverance, integrity, self-control and honor. All High Ranks are expected to be positive role models in and out of the academy. Should you have any questions regarding the testings or proper protocol, please ask your instructor. Thank you!