How to Prep for a Test - What to Do With the Outcome

By: Jeff Mount

This is the final installment in a series about testing in Krav Maga. So you understand what a testing process is designed to do and what it’s not designed to do. You’ve prepared both physically and mentally. Now the only things left to do are take the actual test, then respond to the results.

I don’t have much to say about completing the actual test, except this – put it all out there, and finish. Finish no matter what it takes.

Once the test has finished and you have a few days to recuperate, you’ll find out how you did. There are three general results in the Krav Maga world:

  • A pass

  • A conditional pass

  • A no pass

A pass is what it sounds like – your ability to perform the techniques under stress meets the demands of the instructor. While this varies slightly from one instructor to another, most instructors pass their students based upon the functional proficiency of the technique. In other words, if the technique would work under real circumstances regardless of any minor mistakes, that technique gets a passing score.

A conditional pass means that while most techniques would receive a passing grade, a few key techniques need improvement prior to advancing. Sometimes these techniques are especially important because core principles are recycled again at higher levels for higher-risk techniques. This outcome doesn’t require the student to re-test altogether; the student simply demonstrates necessary improvement on the techniques in question.

A no pass means that the bulk of the techniques were lacking real-world functionality – if the student were attacked in real life, the instructor believes that students’ defense would fail. The instructor does not feel comfortable putting their stamp of approval on those sections of the students’ training. This generally requires a complete re-testing, because the deficiencies are so pervasive that the instructor would not be able to itemize and retest them to allow for a conditional pass.

Whew – those last few paragraphs were a tad bit…sanitized. I’ve been in a few situations where I had to provide written feedback for professional progress reports, and I just realized I slipped into the most professional, emotionless, and objective language of a professional review. The truth is – when people find out they don’t pass, it sucks! So, especially when the students are training Krav Maga for their career, such as a police officer or a government employee traveling to high risk areas overseas, it can be emotionally devastating but tactically life-saving, to receive a no-pass. Not only is the pain and effort of learning and improving feel wasted, that deficiency is now in their HR file. The same is true when an instructor candidate fails a certification exam.

So what do you do when you pass? You still pursue as much constructive feedback as you can, and you routinely review the material that you’ve received a passing grade on. You remember what you struggled with, what you put into your preparation, and you allow yourself to be satisfied with your legitimately admirable accomplishment. And you enjoy having climbed to the top of one ladder, while recognizing that you just arrived at the bottom of the next one.

What do you do when you get a conditional pass? You ask detailed questions about the techniques that you didn’t pass – you still review the items you did pass. You prep until you are ready to be evaluated under stress the techniques you didn’t pass. And when you’ve gotten those checked off, you follow the advice above.

What about a failure? You get as much information about your performance – not just on individual techniques, but on recurring issues among various different techniques. You work hard to prep those – private training, extra classes, taking written notes, asking pointed questions about your performance. When you’re ready, you ask to be re-evaluated. And assuming you did your homework, you proceed to the above paragraph.

Did you notice that? Did you see that the follow up steps are nearly identical regardless of the outcome?

I was working with a school owner/instructor today, very accomplished in traditional martial arts, but new to Krav Maga. We were working on Level 2 material – straight punch defenses with counters. I posed the question – what do you do after you’ve effectively defended the punch? He rightly answered – you counterattack as soon as possible until you’re safe. Then I asked another question – and what do you do if you fail to defend, and end up getting hit in the face? He looked confused – it literally seemed like he had never considered what to do if he got punched in the face. But then he got it – you counterattack as soon as possible until you’re safe. The response is the same regardless of whether the defense works or not.

Testing is a valuable exercise only to the extent that it makes us and our students safer. If we are achieving rank for its own sake, it is meaningless and we betray the purpose for which Krav Maga was designed. If, however, our approach keeps the true purpose of our training in mind – to prepare to defend ourselves and our loved ones from increasingly dangerous attacks – there is no outcome that will be unproductive, unless we choose for it to be.

Rachel Parker