"Sensei.......I think I am ready for my next belt. When am I testing."
I love this question, its a great opportunity to remind our students how testing on the mats and in life works.
The answer to the question is simple, but the concept is not always so simple. The answer to the question "Sensei......When am I testing?" is You are Testing Right Now!
You are testing every time you walk into the Academy, when you put your shoes up, when you pass a fellow student in the Lobby, when you walk onto the mats (shoes off please)....even when you walk to the bathroom (shoes on please). You are testing when we line up, when we stretch, when we drill, when we break into groups, when you are sparring, when we line up to dismiss, when your ride comes to pick you up, and it doesn't stop there.
You are testing when you get home, when its time for homework, when your Family asks you to help out after dinner, when you wake up the next day and get ready for school, when you walk into the classroom, when you talk to your Teacher, your classmates, and the Janitor who cleans to school.
You are always testing in ways big and small, not just on the techniques, but on a way of living that reflects the dicsipline required to learn martial arts, that requires your best effort, your teamwork, your humility, your kindness.
Your test is daily, hourly, and minute by minute. You are constantly becoming what you habitually do, what you think, what you say.
The question is what are you doing with your time, what are you doing on the mats to advance not just you, but those around you. What are you doing off the mats to be of service, to improve yourself, to be the example of why everyone should train martial arts.
When we look at our training in this light, the question should be.....can I have some more time to prepare? I think I feel short with how I spoke to Mom last night, could I have time to make that right? Can I schedule a private lesson to fine tune my form? Could I come in and help the beginners, I need to get my basics better through teaching. How can I get stronger, to make my techniques stronger, faster, more precise?
It is then and only then we you realize that testing is not a date on the calendar, but a mindset, a lifestyle, and a habit cultivated through constant, focused action done every single day!
Get up, get out, get testing!