Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Belt System at our Dojang

(The picture is from a year and a half ago when Robbie still did TKD. He loved the idea of a belt system!)

TKDRocker asked about our belt progression at our school. I realize now that schools do TKD differently, and they do testing differently, too.

At our school, we have a test every 2 months. Most people test each time, unless they've been away.

Here's the progression of belts, with the form they need to do and their breaking kick.

White--Chun-ji and Palgwe 1--step side kick
Yellow--Dan Gun and Palgwe 2--reverse kick
Orange--Do San and Palgwe 3--wheel kick
Green--Won Hyo--jump reverse kick
High Green--Palgwe 4--
(Here I'm not sure of the kicks--I'm missing a page or two of my handbook. There's an axe kick, and a jump front snap kick in here somewhere!)
Blue--Yul Gok--
High Blue--Palgwe 5--hooking kick
3rd Temp Brown--Chun Gun--two board breaks
3rd Perm Brown--Palgwe 6--two board breaks
2nd Temp Brown--Toi Gye--1 board hand, 2 boards foot
2nd Perm Brown--Palgwe 7--2 boards hand, 2 boards foot
1st Temp Brown--Hwa Rang--2 boards hand, 3 boards foot
1st Perm Brown--Chung Mu--2 boards hand, 3 boards foot

I'll be a 1st Perm Brown (testing for Black) in February! So my next challenge is to learn Hwa Rang.

Our tests consist of warm ups, basic movements (which at our school is a prescribed progression of blocks, kicks and strikes), forms, sparring, and breaking. Sometimes we're tested on 1 and 3-step sparring. We're expected to know the meaning of each form, and some basic Korean terminology

Black belts have to do all the forms for all belt levels--all 13 of them--at the test. Master Hughes will call out a few in what seems like random order "Hwa Rang, Palgwe 6" and tell you which direction to face. They've been practicing them since the last test--people testing for black belt have to have all 13 forms seen and approved by black belts at the school before they can even test--they fill out a board with signatures.

In addition, black belts have to do all the 1 and 3 steps, do 2-on-one sparring, take a written test, write a paper ("what TKD means to me"), clean the dojang in preparation for the test, and provide food for the judges! It's a lot.

But I think there might be just as much demanded -- or even more--at other schools. Once when I was coming home from Cleveland, I met a woman on the plane who'd just been to her granddaughter's black belt test. Everyone had to begin by running a mile, then do 50 push ups and 50 sit ups. Then there was the usual test, which ended with concrete block breaking! At our school that concrete block business goes with 2nd degree testing.

So it differs from school to school. But always, always, the black belt test is an ordeal.

Tell me what it's like at your school!

(P.S. I am writing this post from a laptop in my dining room. My computer needed to be fixed, and won't be back for 2-3 weeks! Meanwhile, I have this loaner from the college. Hey, laptops are nice!)

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