Over the weekend our organization had its winter gradings. I sat on two grading panels observing and assessing students testing for jiu-jitsu and judo student grades ranging from 12th kyu to 1st kyu.
Formal testing is only part of the assessment. Other elements include: class hours, seminar attendance, points scored in judo competition, and their sensei's recommendation.
The formal testing itself includes a physical component (demonstration of techniques and self-defence) and an oral component (knowledge and terminology). Attitude is also assessed.
Assessment is subjective -- which is one of the reasons we typically have three black belts per panel -- but here are some of the things that I look for in grading a physical technique (easily adapted to an oral explanation):
- Identification: Was the requested technique demonstrated?
- Completeness: Were all the technical elements present?
- Correctness: Were there any technical defects?
- Control: Was the technique executed safely, or was the partner hurt or at risk of being harmed?
- Effectiveness: How well did it work?
- Efficiency: Was excessive effort or superfluous movement used?
- Improvisation: If the student encountered problems, how well was (s)he able to recover?
- Depth: Was non-basic knowledge shown: e.g. variation(s), unusual detail?
- Grace: Overall flow, fluidity and grace
* * *
One of the things that I have been able to do at my club has been to prepare students for their first grading with a mock grading. This familiarises them with the format, and allows me to pick up on glaring defects just-in-time. Also: When several students have the same issue it points to a common source: their teacher!
Now that the class is growing, I think that next grading season I'll try something that helped me in my early years of learning jiu-jitsu and judo: an in-house mock grading session with the students getting a chance to sit on the panel and assess, as well as to be tested. It should be good.