Martial Arts Grading and Nine Popping Speeches

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Martial arts grading speech

What you say at the martial arts grading speech should be remembered by your students

I have been to many a martial arts grading over the years. I wince when I hear the same speeches over and over again. “The grading was good”. “I am pleased with your performance”. BORING…I look around and people are on their mobiles or snoozing. The instructor was at a loss for words, so just put out the usual stuff. Don’t let this happen at your grading.

How To Make Your Martial Arts Grading Speeches Pop

Let’s look at how we can be creative and make the speeches at your martial arts grading really pop. Let’s take this opportunity to inspire our students and help them improve for the next one. Here are some good themes to make your martial arts gradings the ones your students remember. This post was written with the martial arts instructor in mind. For students please see Kids Karate Grading: How to Pass. For another take on the subject of inspiration, have a look at How to Never Lose Motivation for Training Karate from Karate by Jesse. It’s a good read.

One: The grading was good. Maybe it was, maybe not. But there must have been at least one or two things good about it. Find them. Say “the punches were lightning fast”, the “kicks were super explosive”, “the kata were extremely crisp”, “the stances were rock-solid”. Tell them exactly why the grading was good in your speeches.

Two: Martial arts is an individual, not a team sport. So don’t compare yourself to your classmates. Some will learn fast, and some will learn slow. Fact of life. I am a slow learner, for example. It takes me many hours of practice to get something down, while others may pick it up in a matter of minutes. But once I learn something I learn it well. Others will be more athletic than us. Fact of life. There will be some who are more explosive, others more flexible, others that have better timing, usually through experience. Compare yourself not to others, but to who you were yesterday.

Three: Martial arts are a journey, not a destination. It can be a wonderful, life-long quest that will challenge you, but at the same time drive you to strengthen and harden your body, build immense willpower, eat clean, and live the healthy “martial arts” lifestyle. Don’t burn yourself out trying to rush through the belts to be the first in your class to reach black. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon, so take time to enjoy the journey. Relish knowing what your body can do and the fact that you now walk with confidence.

Four: There will be setbacks, but never give up on your dreams. Injuries, job demands, family, school, they all get in the way from time to time. They are important, and demand your attention. But stay the course, and train when you can. During busy, stressful times, the martial arts will always be there to help you release your tension. Again, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

Five: Embrace and enjoy the friendships. Life-long friendships will form out of the martial arts. Trust me on this. These people you meet will most likely be refreshingly different from your other friends. Be open to forming new friendships and go out of your way to be kind to everyone in the dojo. Reach out.

Six: Be proud, but be humble. No one likes a braggart. Be very proud of your achievements, but keep it inside. The people who matter most will already know of your martial arts prowess.

Seven: Make the new students feel welcome. We were all once shy, scared, un-coordinated white belts when we walked through the door. Maybe someone laughed at us when we fell or made the wrong moves in the kata. We were so humiliated we felt like quitting. Help build the beginners up, not tear them down. Have a kind word for them and let them know we all went through the same thing. Tell them after the martial arts grading that they did a good job. Respect all who have the courage to walk through the door to make that first step on their journey.

Eight: Work on your strengths, but be aware of your weaknesses. For years my weakness was grappling. I took traditional Japanese Jujutsu classes years ago. I could hold my own in the stand-up sparring, but smaller, weaker guys could take me down and dominate me on the ground. I learned very quickly it was not about strength, but technique that mattered. I am currently studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the ground is now my friend. Discover your weaknesses and shore them up.

Nine: Last but not least, thank your students and the parents for supporting your program, for without them, you would not be living this marvellous, healthy lifestyle. Let your heartfelt appreciation come out in your speeches.

Instructors, what are some of the speeches you use to make your martial arts grading more interesting and inspiring? Students, what did your instructor say to you at the martial arts grading that inspired you the most?

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  1. Grant H says

    Hi Matt,
    Nice to see you’ve put up all the points I told you.

    Just kidding, a good read and definitely a few good pointers in there that I have forgotten during my speeches. More to add to the repertoir!

    P.s. The blog works excellently for mobile devices!

  2. Sensei Matt Klein says

    Hi Grant! You have the great honour of being the first comment. And yes, you taught me everything I know, LOL. Thanks for the feedback on the mobile devices and glad you found the blog post useful.

  3. says

    Always a great read Matt…thank you! I especially loved the previous post about embracing being ‘different’! I’ve always encouraged my kids to embrace their uniqueness…truth is we are all different & I think that’s brilliant, but as teens, there is a huge desire to ‘fit in’.

  4. Sensei Matt Klein says

    Thanks Paula, and glad you enjoyed the post. That post was one of the most popular in our history, and I think a lot of people related to it. Thanks for your visit!