Saturday, March 28, 2009


Our dojang is holding lower-level gup tests today. These occur about every three months, with three separate testing sessions divided by rank. An early session for the white belts that are testing for orange belt (8th gup), a second session for orange belts testing for their first stripe (7th gup) or their green belt (6th gup), and a third for green belts testing for stripes or their red belt (3rd gup).

Once we reach 3rd gup, one of our rsponsibilities is to assist in the testings by proctoring. Basically, this consists of just getting the gups warmed up and focused before the test, getting them lined up and arranged as directed by the testing board, and then calling and counting out the various commands for the test. Line drills, one steps, wrist grabs, forms, and so forth. It's not hard, but it does require a bit of focus and energy, especially if the group testing is having trouble maintaining focus (as is often the case with kids) or energy (as is often thte case with adults).

A good proctor can really make a big difference in the testing experience for the gups. I know that I've had a couple of tests where one of our proctors (proctoring is usually a team effort...) was too quiet, counted line drills too quickly, didn't listen attentively to the testing board, or just kinda miffed the entire thing. The effect on the folks that are testing, who are already typically tense and nervous, or tired, or freaked out, can range from distracting to disastrous. So while proctoring is a sort of perfuctory duty, it's also one that I think needs to be approached seriously, for the benefit of the lower ranked gups.

As the ranking 1st gup in our school, it also sort of unofficially falls to me to ensure that the proctoring duties are spread out evenly over the various red belts who show up to each test to help out. Since the majority of them are kids this can be tricky -- everyone has an idea of what they want to do most, and it has to be balanced against a lot of other factors: whether the gup has previously proctored, whether they have a family member in the current test (I like the kids whose parents are testing to have a chance to call their pick of the test -- it's exciting for them, and can be a source of pride and energy for their parents), if the kid gets stage fright (we have a couple of kids who get excited to assist and then tend to freeze up when it comes time to call commands), and so forth. It's a bit of a juggling act, but one I enjoy.

With my dan test approaching (less than 8 weeks to go!), this will be my last opportunity to proctor. That's both exciting and a little bit bittersweet for me. I've really enjoyed the responsibilities associated with the red belt, as they've really helped me to feel a sense of "ownership" in our dojang, in the cycles the define the student experiences. Dan will have its own inherent respeonsibilities (grading tests instead of proctoring, for example), but this has been a special chapter in the book of my training, and I'll miss it.

Mood: Oddly melancholy
Now Playing: Marillion, "Clutching at Straws"

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