A Change from the Usual

It’s finally happened! The BADC are changing their grading system for their exams! This will make some jump with joy and others fill with dread, but no matter what it is for the best… trust us.


The now old system for Standard Intensives used to be graded: fail, pass, bronze, silver, gold and gold with distinction, six whole available bands(well five, no one likes to mention the first one, sort of like that cousin who you hate who used to get you in trouble and break your things…but regardless of that they are always lurking at family parties). The new system will be much more like that of other syllabuses: fail, pass, merit, distinction. Some will react with ‘great, so much more streamlined, so much clearer.’…others with ‘but… with less bands…is it going to be more difficult to attain?’

Yes, it will, but that isn’t something to be scared of, its something to reach for! We are now all conditioned through education systems to get that piece of paper or that stamp of approval as quickly and as cheaply as possible, but we need to really be focusing on the training, on that process of learning a skill. It is only a skill if we can repeat it after the test day. How many of us went through school learning to parrot the correct answers but not necessarily be able to put it into practice, or even remember it today! Stage combat is a physical skill that takes time to master and everyone masters things in different times.


I teach a lot of intensive courses and I am very honest with my students that it is going to be HARD. And I mean HARD not only in a physical way, but HARD in a MENTAL way. The information you take in during the seven days is huge, it’s like trying to learn a language or drive a car in a week and then at the end of this exhausting week you have to go and do a polished performance and be judged.  It can be extremely frustrating, overwhelming and full of self-doubt but the rewards are huge. And when I say the rewards are huge, they are huge in what you have done and how far you have come NOT in the branding you are given. I am using the word branding for a reason (it’s not a typo and I should have said banding). I use branding because at the start of the week, many people are just happy to pass or just do the training… but when exam days come and the examiner doles out the marks, suddenly that shiny pass mark becomes very dull and students look at other marks and feel less worthy.  Old adages such as ‘grass is always greener’ and ‘want what you don’t have’ spring instantly to my mind.  All that pride and growth goes straight out the window and tears come out and frustration make its entrance. The fact that you barely knew which way was the pointy bit or that you couldn’t get your feet to move one after the other let alone learn a 50 move fight WITH that classical dialogue you insisted on using is unimportant, you ONLY GOT A (insert the word: pass, bronze, silver, gold). Oh, and yes, I have had the tears and frustration even with silvers and golds (I know, I know).


I wish students would be better to themselves.

I wish we could focus on the process of training and not just the result.

I wish we could celebrate our accomplishments instead of being upset with not getting something else burned into our skin to mark us for life.


I wish we could see that the training doesn’t end at Standard but only just begins with the weird and wonderful world of dramatic combat.

I wish people would just go to as many workshops as they could and enjoy LEARNING.


So yes, the new system is going to be different…but it will make us better. So lets all cross that bridge together, no matter the results.

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