Written by Becky Madison, Krav Maga Dallas Instructor
Krav Maga belt tests are not for the weak-hearted. They are said to be one of the most physically, mentally, and spiritually demanding experiences in which you can partake. For those unfamiliar with a Krav Maga belt test, this rite of passage spans multiple hours, pushing you to your physical limits while you’re being asked to effectively execute the Krav techniques and defenses, both in isolation as well as part of live scenarios with a variety of different attackers.
But taking and passing a Krav Maga belt test will also be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of your life! There is an enormous sense of personal pride and self-confidence that comes from knowing you can effectively defend against a variety of attackers, from digging deep to fight through any drill or scenario thrown your way, and from refusing to quit even when you’re exhausted. Whether it’s your first Krav Maga test (i.e. Yellow) or a higher-level test (i.e. Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, etc.), you will always remember each and every one.
Are you considering taking a Krav Maga belt test soon? If so, here are 7 tips to help you prepare before your belt test day so that you can have your best test possible.
Tip #1: Practice and Know All the Material
It’s crucial that you know and practice all the material before your belt test. And “knowing” the material doesn’t mean just doing it once in isolation when you’re fresh. Can you execute the technique when your exhausted and unable to think about it? Does the technique just flow during “monkey in the middle” drills when you have multiple attacks coming in succession? If not, keep attending more classes in order to get in more repetitions and to ingrain each technique more and more into your muscle memory.
If you want to really fine-tune your techniques and defenses, here’s what I personally do. Go to our Krav Maga Dallas website, and print off the Belt Test Curriculum for your current level. Put the print out and a pen in your Krav bag. Then, after each class, jot down any notes for the techniques covered in class that you found particularly helpful. Maybe the instructor explained something in a new way that really clicked with you. Maybe you received some helpful feedback that you’ll want to write down. Or maybe you had a personal “light bulb moment” where something you’ve been struggling with finally makes sense. Write it down, and permanently capture it. This results in a personalized, cumulated collection of all the best tips and feedback for each technique, which you can later reference when you are practicing and fine-tuning your techniques. This is a habit I started when I joined Krav Maga back in 2011… and I still continue to do this today.
Tip #2: Attend the Belt Test Review
The belt test review typically takes place about 1 week before the test. This is your final chance to review and practice all the techniques and defenses together in one session and to ask your instructors any final questions. The belt test review is a perfect time to get in another round of practice with the same training partner with whom you plan to test (see Tip #3 below). And don’t forget to jot down notes to capture any personal feedback or tips you received during the review (see Tip #1 above).
If you’re planning to take a higher-level Krav Maga belt test (i.e. Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, etc.), remember that each belt test is cumulative, so you will be tested on both the current material as well as the previous material from earlier levels. Therefore, I’d also recommend attending lower-level belt test reviews as a refresher to your earlier material and to review techniques you might not have seen in a while.
Tip #3: Find Your Test-Day Training Partner
When possible, identify and select your test-day training partner in advance. This will give you both enough time to train together – both inside class, outside of class, and during the belt test review (see Tip #2 above). Familiarizing yourself with your training partner ahead of time will help to reduce test-day stress and prevent injury that can result from working with someone with whom you are unfamiliar.
But who should you choose as your training partner? Ask around to find out who is considering testing in the next belt test. Ideally, you’ll want to choose someone who is approximately your same size and athletic ability to help ensure the safety of both of you. If you’re still not sure who to select as your partner, feel free to reach out to any of the KMD instructors, and we’d be happy to help you find someone.
Tip #4: Conditioning, Conditioning, Conditioning
Surviving and thriving a multi-hour belt test requires you to be in good fighting condition. Your level of conditioning will greatly influence your test-day performance. The belt test is designed to push you to your physical limit, so being in the best shape possible will help ensure your best test possible.
Here are a few of my personal recommendations on how to best condition yourself in the months and weeks leading up to your belt test:
Attend as many Krav Maga classes as possible, including back-to-back classes so you’re accustom to training for multiple hours at a time.
In order to help your body recover each week, consider attending KravYoga classes. KravYoga will help you improve your balance, flexibility, and core control… all of which will make you a better Krav practitioner and help prevent injuries. For example, improved balance can result in a more stable fight stance, stronger punches and kicks, and quicker movements during sparring. To see a list of available classes, click here.
Be sure to also condition outside of class. While there are many opinions about how best to train outside of KMD, just remember the famous saying that “the best conditioning for Krav is Krav”. Personally, my favorite conditioning at home is “contact cardio,” which includes punching and kicking on a heavy bag or BOB (body opponent bag) multiple times a week. Simply turn on Bas Rutton’s Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts Audio Workouts, and follow along!
Bonus Conditioning Tip: It’s inevitable that, sometime during your belt test, you will “hit the wall,” where you will feel like you are stretched to your physical limit. I’d highly recommend training and conditioning yourself hard enough so that you experience hitting the wall in your practice before your test. That way you will know in advance what that sensation feels like and how to overcome it. The key is to breathe regularly (slowly and deeply without hyperventilating), and whatever you do, don’t quit. Remember, the mind will quit a thousand times before the body will, so feel the discomfort and fight through it.
Tip #5: Ramp Down Your Intensity 3-5 Days Before Your Test
In the days leading up to your test, I’d highly recommend that you ramp down your training intensity. Nothing is worse than a last-minute injury or being unbearably sore right before your belt test day. Remember, you can’t magically improve your conditioning in these final days, so trust the months of conditioning that you have already done (see Tip #4 above) and allow your body a chance to rest up for the big day. Personally, I have found this to be a great time to practice my defenses slowly, precisely, and fluidly to keep the techniques fresh in my mind without overexerting myself.
Tip #6: Good Nutrition and Hydration Before Test Day
As the famous saying goes, you are what you eat (and drink, too!). While there are many different dietary opinions and viewpoints about what is optimal, the best overall advice is to simply be smart with what you eat and drink in the months and weeks leading up to your test. Drink plenty of water while you are training. Focus on eating a healthy portion of proteins and healthy fats while minimizing your consumption of refined sugars, refined carbs, and alcohol. And as always, be sure consult your physician before beginning any nutrition program, as he/she can give you the best nutritional guidance tailored specifically for you and your needs.
Fueling your body with the right foods and water will go a long way in helping you prepare for your upcoming belt test day. Stay tuned for another upcoming KMD blog post that will cover nutritional tips specifically on your actual belt test day (and the 24 hours prior).
Tip #7: Watch a Belt Test
While it’s certainly not mandatory to do this, I personally have found it beneficial to watch a belt test before taking one. Even though no two tests are the same, watching a Krav Maga belt test does give you a general idea of what to expect and the types of drills and scenarios you might encounter on your own belt test. And while you’re watching, be sure to cheer on your fellow classmates who are testing that day! A friendly “Keep it up!” or “You got this!” from the sidelines can go a long way to boost someone’s energy during a grueling test.
As you advance through the Krav Maga belt ranks, keep in mind that the higher-level belt tests are quite different from the lower-level belt tests. Just because you watched a Yellow belt test doesn’t mean it will mirror what you should expect on a Green belt test. For example, if you know you want to take the Green Belt test later in the fall, then plan ahead and watch the Green belt test earlier in the spring.
Got a Tip to Share?
There is no one right way to prepare for a Krav Maga belt test, but hopefully these 7 tips will give you some terrific ideas so you can have your best belt test possible. Share your own tips or ask questions on our Facebook members-only page!
P.S. Stay tuned for another upcoming KMD blog post, giving you specific tips and advice for what to do on your actual belt test day.