The Essence Of Korean Taekwondo

korea taekwondo

"Junior" and "senior” or "student" and "instructor’ are usually the two types of ranks in Taekwondo. Usually there are 10 ranks as the Korean word geup (also gup or kup) stated. Color belts of different colors are what classify the different ranks in the junior level. Stripes on the belts often times indicate the Geup rank, rather than just by color. The tenth geup , which is indicated by a white belt, is where students begin, working their way to the first geup, and that belt is red with a black stripe. Nine ranks make up the senior section. These ranks are known as "dan" which refers to a black belt or also known as "degrees’ such as "third degree black belt" and so on.  

The senior starts at the first degree, and then advances to the next and so on. Stripes often times will indicate the degree of belt of the person; some may have roman numerals, while black belts can be plain at any rank. A panel of judges oversees promotional tests for the student who wishes to advance to the next level; they are to demonstrate various aspects of the art in order to move up in rank. Different schools may have different promotional tests, usually the ability to perform different patterns, the ability to break boards, be able to have power and control techniques, they will spar with other students  and answer questions about the terms used, and all around knowledge , understanding and history of Taekwondo.  

Often times a written test or research paper is needed along with the practical test for the more advanced Dan. The time frame for most schools to promote from one geup to the next can happen quickly, usually between 2 and 4 months. While moving up in rank to ultimately the Dan rank, students first learn the basics techniques used in the art. It is not uncommon for the older schools to be slower in promoting ranks of the students, due to the lack of testing intervals. In other words, it can take years to move from dan to the next rank. To allow the black belt to advance, it usually takes the amount of time equivalent to the current rank. 

For instance, a recently promoted 3rd degree black belt might not be permitted to progress to the 4th degree level until a period of 36 months has passed. A few associations also stipulate age specifications relating to promotions in dan, and might allow the less mature students the level of junior black belt or pum status as opposed to dan ranks right up until they get to a particular age. 

Black belt rankings often have titles linked to them, like instructor and master but taekwondo associations differ broadly in standards and rules regarding titles and ranks. What applies to one organization might not hold true in another, as is the situation in several martial art programs. By way of example, attaining 1st dan status with 3 years' instruction can be standard in one association, but too short in another association, and similarly for other ranks. 


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