Testing and ranking (optional) is also self-paced. Each student tests when he or she is ready, and the instructors and more experienced students help with preparation over a period of months. The exams are milestones along the learning path and a celebration of each student's hard work and accomplishments. Each one is completely prepared to test very well against the standard training objectives and his or her own past skill level. The goal is not to advance quickly up the ranks, but to learn how to prepare well for an exam of any kind and to understand the process of learning for longterm retention.
Students have many opportunities to practice being "on stage" well ahead of the exam, and the test is conducted in a very positive, supportive way. Students test with more advanced partners, and the head instructor provides encouragement and coaching throughout the test to help them do their best. Immediately after the exam, the senpai and instructors provide positive feedback and recognition in front of the group. The newly ranked students then take on the responsibility of training their kohai to reach the same level. In this way they fully internalize the learning from their own test and give the support they received back to the group.
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