In order to facilitate and unify testing for under black belt level ranks, standardized tests have been provided. Examiners should consistently utilize these tests, but may create additional related technique combinations as well.
The Board of Directors of the Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association (CNOMAA) groups the various schools teaching Cuong Nhu into administrative regions along geographic and demographic lines. Each of these regions has a testing committee formed of all senior dan ranks and heads of schools. This committee then oversees the administration of examinations within the region. Within the guidelines provided below and other regulations published by CNOMAA, the organization and operation of this regional testing committee is up to the committee members.
Each region should conduct at least three tests per year. Tests for brown belt and above should be regional events, with the locations, head examiners, dates, and test organizers determined by consensus of the members of the regional testing committee. Tests for second brown stripe and below can be local events, with the locations, head examiners, dates, and test organizers determined by local heads of schools.
Students become testing candidates when they have:
• completed the required minimum number of hours of class for a particular rank. Normally, students may not skip a rank when testing (e.g., a one green stripe student cannot test for green belt). However, students who have spent ten months or more in their present rank, who have attended class regularly, and who have not been inactive during this period, may petition, via their instructor, for special permission from the regional testing committee to skip rank. Only one rank may be skipped per examination except in the case of a student who is a ranking belt in another style. These cases will be handled individually by the regional committee in conjunction with the student’s instructor.
• been recommended by their instructor. The decision to test must be a mutual one between instructor and student. A student may not unilaterally decide to test.
• joined the Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association and paid annual dues. Candidates may not test unless they are current on annual dues.
• submitted a written essay, if it is required for the rank. One copy of this essay must be submitted to the test organizer two weeks prior to the examination. Another copy should be submitted directly to the CNOMAA office. Essays which are submitted less than one month prior to the exam will be accepted. However, the student submitting a late essay who otherwise passes the examination will receive one month probation.
• submitted a test form along with any required test fees. The students’ instructor will provide test forms prior to the examination. Candidates must note on the testing form any medical or physical problems which may affect their performance on test day. Any requirement substitutions related to these problems should also be noted.
Test fees for the ranks of black belt and above are set on a schedule published by CNOMAA and paid directly. Testing fees for all other ranks are at the discretion of each head of school and are paid to the local school.
Each candidate is responsible for:
• wearing a proper uniform to the examination. A clean, white gi bearing the Cuong Nhu emblem and the candidate’s name on the jacket is required.
• providing any personal equipment required for the examination, such as sparring gear, cup, mouthpiece, focus mitt, and weapons. In addition, a candidate for promotion to a colored belt rank (green, brown, or black) must provide the appropriate belt.
• providing boards and preselecting board holders for the breaking test. If the candidate requires concrete blocks for breaking supports, the candidate must either provide them or coordinate with the test organizer to assure that the correct number and type of blocks are available at the test site.
• designating (for black belt tests only) who will present the candidate’s belt at the award ceremony. The candidate should select from these possibilities:
• Instructor who has been most influential to the candidate’s development
• Head of the candidate’s school
• Master of the style
• Highest ranking grader (if none of the above is available)
The test organizer is the head of school who is hosting the examination.
Once selected, a test organizer has the responsibility for:
• obtaining the test location. It is NOT the organizer’s responsibility to assume sole financial responsibility for any facility rental, insurance costs, etc. associated with an examination. These financial burdens (if any) must be shared by all schools participating in the examination, perhaps by a testing fee surcharge. However, surcharges must be predetermined and agreed to by the participating schools prior to commitments to fee-based sites.
Once the site is determined, the organizer must publish dates, times, maps, test forms, and other pertinent information about the examination and distribute this information to the regional heads of schools at least six weeks prior to the test.
• collecting test forms, written papers, and fees. At least one week prior to the examination, the organizer should receive from each participating head of school one test form per candidate. Any fee surcharges are also due from the participating schools at this time. Any essays received as part of an advanced rank examination should be marked with the date of receipt and forwarded ultimately to the head examiner for that rank.
• verifying eligibility. The organizer should determine if each participating head of school has provided documentation that the candidates have completed all eligibility requirements (required time in rank, annual dues, etc.).
• obtaining the necessary number of examiners and assistant examiners. The rank of examiners must be appropriate for rank being tested (e.g., brown belt examiners can work with white and green belt ranks, but not brown or above ranks.). The head examiner and each assistant examiner should be informed of the number of students to be tested as soon as possible.
• providing necessary supplies for the tests (a minimum of four cement blocks for breaking supports, mats, a first aid kit, brooms, safety glasses, stop watches, etc.). This also includes an appropriate number of copies of the written examinations and pencils for green belts and above.
• providing additional assistants for the head examiners. This includes volunteers to serve as score keepers and time keepers for sparring tests.
• distributing test forms to the examiners on test day. The examiners should be given adequate time prior to the start of the test to review the forms.
• controlling the test day agenda. When possible, the organizer should work with the head examiner(s) to work out the most efficient agenda for the test day. This might include prearranging and posting the sparring matches by ring or specifying the order in which breaking tests are performed.
An examiner is a senior black belt or ranking student appointed by the test organizer to administer a particular test on examination day. Within the rank guidelines given below, the examiner determines the content and order of the test. Excluding group portions of the examinations (sparring, breaking, self-defense demos, written exams, etc.), examiners should plan for their candidates to complete the examination in one to one and one-half hours.
An assistant examiner is a black belt or ranking student appointed by the test organizer to help a particular examiner on test day. The assistant examiner observes the candidates as the examiner conducts the test, records these observations on the candidates’ test forms, and provides input to the examiner to help determine the candidates’ results.
The head examiner is a senior black belt appointed by the regional committee and/or CNOMAA to supervise all examinations and act as a final arbiter on examination day. It is the head examiner’s responsibility to see that the examinations are conducted safely and fairly.
Shortly prior to the start of the examination, the head examiner should gather the examiners and assistant examiners and enumerate for them their responsibilities. This should include a reminder to the assistants that they may ask the examiners to repeat instructions, allow additional repetitions, etc. so that the tests can be accurately graded. With the help of the examiners and instructors, the head examiner must also determine:
• If any candidate has medical problems or injuries which precludes them from completing the test safely. No candidate will be allowed to begin the test if there is any doubt as to the safety of doing so. For example, a candidate who arrives with a newly sprained ankle or a casted limb must not be allowed to start the examination. The physical and medical safety of the candidates is an ongoing responsibility of all examiners throughout the test. During the examination, the head examiner has the authority to disqualify the candidate from further participation on that day for medical and or safety reasons. Reasons for disqualification include but are not limited to obvious injury (sprains, broken bones, excessive bruising, etc.) and apparent
symptoms of heat exhaustion.
• What substitution options due to age, injury, medical problems or handicaps will be accepted and performed by the candidates. Major long standing problems of any candidate should be called to the attention of the relevant examiners and their assistants.
Start of Test
At the time specified by the test organizer, the head examiner must:
• Call the candidates together and ask them to be seated.
• Review the rules, how the test will be conducted, and the order of events with the candidates.
• Line-up the candidates. With the help of the assistant examiners, candidates should be grouped within rank, by the examiner assigned to them.
• Bow-in the candidates and examiners and lead meditation.
The examiners may then independently proceed to administer their tests. If an examiner has multiple assistants, the assistants should be rotated between groups approximately half way through the examination to allow a broader evaluation of the candidates. All examiners should do their best to encourage the candidates during the test. Special encouragement should be given to those candidates who have obviously failed a portion of the test (e.g., candidates who did not complete the breaking test successfully) so that poor performance on one part of the test does not necessarily affect subsequent portions. Examiners are responsible for making the test a positive learning experience—challenging, but not severe. They should avoid negative comments and feedback. Examiners should be sensitive to the age and skill level of the student and give consideration for age and physical limitations. With regard to technique and kick combinations, examiners should strive for simplicity and a logical flow of movements.
During the examinations, the assistant examiners should note candidates who are not performing well. At the earliest opportunity (e.g., during a break in the test) such candidates should be brought confidentially to the attention of the examiner and/or head examiner so that additional evaluation skills can be concentrated on them.
End of Test
When the examiners complete their tests, they must:
• Gather their assistants and privately discuss the final results.
• Assign each candidate a final grade (pass/fail/probation).
• Provide any additional comments on the candidates’ performance in writing on the test forms.
• Announce the results to each candidate individually and confidentially.
At the conclusion of all examinations, the head examiner then must:
• Line-up the candidates by rank. All candidates who began the test are expected to end the test together, regardless of individual results.
• Administer promotions for those candidates who passed.
• Conduct a swearing-in ceremony.
• Bow-out the candidates.
Testing Evaluation Guidelines
• Examiners and assistant examiners will give letter grades to each candidate for each requirement and will indicate these grades on the candidate’s
test form. The grading system used will be
A (Excellent), B (Good), C (Average), D (Poor), F (Unacceptable).
A candidate who receives
• A’s, B’s, and/or C’s for all test requirements passes the test.
• One D gets one month probation.
• Two D’s or one F gets three months probation.
• Three or more D’s or any combination of D’s and F’s must retake the entire examination.
The probation period gives the candidate an opportunity to exert extra effort to correct a weakness. At the end of the probation period, the candidate will be asked to display a level of proficiency in each requirement for which probation was received that is commensurate with the requirements for the rank attempted. If the performance is judged adequate, the candidate will then be promoted.
Probation tests can be administered in class by the candidate’s instructor. Ideally, probation tests should be administered before as large of an audience (classmates, spectators at a demonstration, etc.) as possible.
When present at the test, a candidate’s instructor(s) is to be notified by the examiner before a candidate is given probation or an overall failing grade. The examiner and head examiner can consider the subjective input of the instructor before delivering the final result for a candidate.
• A candidate who causes injury to an examiner, another candidate or a bystander through neglect or carelessness automatically fails the test.
• A candidate who, during the test, exhibits conduct contravening the Code of Ethics (for example, verbal disrespect for an examiner) can be summarily dismissed by the head examiner and fail the test.
• Dropping of a weapon during a kata or dropping a weapon two times during the performance of a technique will result in an F grade for the weapons section.
• Improperly equipped candidates can not participate in sparring matches and receive automatic sparring probation.
• Only candidates with medically documented problems that preclude safe execution of the
techniques are exempt from flying and jumping kicks.
• Students with medical problems can be exempted from the stamina requirements and can fulfill substitution requirements in phases prior to the examination. Substitution requirements can include, but are not limited to, a public demonstration, teaching, or participating in a community project which contributes toward the development of Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts.
• Black belt candidates below the age of 16 who pass the test are promoted to junior black belt. Based on their maturity and recommendation of their instructor, junior black belts who have been continuously active in Cuong Nhu and who are members in good standing with the CNOMAA can earn full black belt status by successfully passing a board breaking test and a sparring test. Junior black belts must complete this ‘upgrade’ test prior to their eighteenth birthday. Otherwise, the junior black belt rank reverts to the rank of two black stripes.