At National Karate, I always came home from a belt test tired, but encouraged. This time, I'm exhausted and a bit discouraged.
Every time I tested at National Karate, the test -- as well as all of the Black Belt exams I've attended -- were tests of the skills we'd been taught since our last belt. Often they were also an opportunity to learn from other instructors, black belts and even other students from other schools. The test format was basically fixed, and worked through traditional basics, marching basics, form, paper and pad kicks, sparing (for higher belts) and ended with a nice, often exhausting, finale of horse-stance punches. But everything was stuff done at least somewhat regularly in class.
At this school, the test was for all of the testing students -- it was combined with a regular class -- to carry a pair of 2 or 3 pound weights and go through a class more suited to a kick-boxing workout class than a karate skills class. We did go over the blocks, punches and kicks. But only after 20 or more minutes of running in place with occasional squats, push ups, sit ups, and other aerobic exercises. By the time we were doing that I was almost too exhausted to think.
At this point, I'm starting to miss National Karate even more than I have at other times. I'm almost tempted to write a letter to the heads of the system and the schools in Chicago (and probably copy the people at the school were I took most of my classes) letting them know how much more I appreciate both their art and their style of teaching.