Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS A BELT FOR?
Belts are goals that are set for students to meet on their road to Tae Kwon Do training and personal improvement. To obtain the first belts, the goals are more easily met and involve more help from the instructor. Techniques are fairly simple early on and increase in difficulty as the students progress. Students will progress at the speed that’s equal to their personal abilities. There are nine belts, or goals in the sequence starting with white on up to, “the ultimate goal”, Black Belt.
HOW ARE THE BELTS RANKED?
Promotion testings are conducted every three months from the beginning of a session for lower belts and six months for higher belts. Our belts are ranked as follows; the first belt tested for being White and on to White stripes, Gold, Gold stripes, green, Green Stripes, Blue, Blue stripes, Brown, Brown stripes, Red, and finally, Black belt. Black Belts are then ranked from 1st degree on up to 9th degree. The highest rank of distinction is a 10th degree black belt who is considered to be the founder or successor of a style or Dojang (School).
WHAT DOES CERTIFICATION MEAN?
In the Brandt’s Tae Kwon Do system, colored belt ranks are certified, or officially recognized, through the Brandt’s Tae Kwon Do Association. Because Grand Master Mt. Kim and Master Andy are certified Examiners for the Kukkiwon, all the colored belt rankings certified are officially recognized worldwide as official rank, within WTF Dojangs, whether it is a white belt or black belt. Upon the recommendation of Grand Master Mt. Kim and/or Master Andy, Black belts are certified and registered with the Kukkiwon in Seoul, South Korea, the headquarters for the World Tae Kwon Do Federation.
WHAT IS A BLACK BELT?
A Junior Black Belt (Poom) or Adult Black Belt (Dan) is a student recognized for their commitment to Tae Kwon Do who has achieved a high level of proficiency and knowledge in the art of kicking and punching. This proficiency includes speed, accuracy, strength, and thorough knowledge of a large amount of technique; both theory and application, as well as information and history. A Black belt is worn by a person who possesses the quality of courtesy, integrity, self control, perseverance, and indomitable spirit in addition to demonstrating a knowledge and understanding of the aspects of Tae Kwon Do as presented to them by their instructor.
WHAT IS A MASTER?
A master is the title given to a 4th Dan Black Belt or higher. This title is given in recognition of the level of expertise that a person has upon attaining such a rank. In some cases, as head of an association, a 5th Dan or higher is called a ‘Kwan Jang Nim’(Master). Master Instructors have shown the knowledge and technical skills to be a leader in the Martial Arts world. Only Master Instructors can conduct certified promotion tests.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER REACHING BLACK BELT?
Upon reaching Black belt, a student will realize that black belt is not an end, but a beginning. While a black belt often helps instruct other students and beginners, they also recognize how much more there is for them to learn and continue their own training, advancement and individual betterment, while they also pass on what they have learned to new students. Teaching others teaches a student many things about themselves and their own technique. By analyzing and teaching a technique the student is also analyzing their own abilities and makes them become better. This is part of the circle of Tae Kwon Do. Of all the training learned from an instructor, upon reaching black belt, a student becomes the teacher, or assistant, and gives that knowledge back to the program in the form of teaching new students who may one day do the same. This keeps the art of Tae Kwon Do alive for many generations and is the principle on which Tae Kwon Do has sustained itself for over 2000 years. The knowledge and art of Tae Kwon Do is a gift that is meant to be shared with others who strive to learn and to better themselves.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE INSTRUCTOR?
The instructor’s goals are to build and support the development of confident students. These students are individuals with goals, discipline, and a sense of proper direction in their lives. Students will also have needs and the instructors are there to see that those needs are met in the training to help students become better human beings. The method of training, in all aspects, is a goal-oriented system, which serves as a positive reinforcement to growth as individuals.
HOW DOES THE INSTRUCTOR DISCIPLINE WHEN NECESSARY?
Since Tae Kwon Do aims to help individuals become better persons, there is an appropriate place for discipline within the training. When a student fails to perform or behave in an appropriate manner, disciplinary actions may include; push-ups, sitting out, verbal scolding, or in extreme cases, demotion or expulsion from the gym. Any disciplinary action taken in any case will be discussed with the student or parent(s) in private so that the nature of the circumstances and discipline are fully understood. Parents should not hesitate to include the instructor if there is a discipline problem outside the gym.
WHAT IS BELT TESTING?
Once again, promotion tests are conducted every three months. When the student has completed the required time and material training requirements, then he/she will be eligible to test. As in any educational institution, the instructors know when a student is ready to test so please trust their judgment. The colored belt exams are open for family and friends to attend and watch. The student will perform the required material in front of the testing instructor as well as the audience, then finish by breaking the required board or boards, to advance to the next level. Beginner students and children are given the assistance if needed to help them fulfill the requirements to earn their belt. This helps build confidence and teaches them to know what is expected of them. Advanced students are expected to complete the exam with little or no assistance. Junior and adult black belt tests are not open to family or friends and must be passed with no assistance.
WHY ARE THE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO BOW?
Bowing is a tradition in Korea used when entering or leaving the gym. It is also used when asking a question of an instructor or entering the gym in which higher ranks and black belts are present. It is a sign of respect for their experience, knowledge and commitment to Tae Kwon Do. It is also out of respect for the gym, the ranks, and the instructors. It is similar to an American handshake. When you meet someone it is proper etiquette to shake his/her hand. In Korea, and especially Tae Kwon Do, it is proper to greet people in this way each time they meet. This method of recognizing authority, experience, and greater knowledge helps to strengthen a student’s respect for authority in and out of the gym whether it is parents, teachers, police, adults or other persons of stature. It also fosters a sense of respect for the training, the goals and the person they aspire to become.
WHY LEARN KOREAN TERMINOLOGY?
Korean is the universal language of Tae Kwon Do. Students could go to any Tae Kwon Do training center in the world and understand the training. Learning and using Korean is also very crucial to know in the event that other Masters, Grand Masters or even the Great Grand Master should make a visit to our gym. Instructors from Korea, naturally, conduct their classes, training, and commands in Korean and are always impressed when American students understand them. Learning Korean prepares students for competition, as all competition and commands in the sport arena are conducted and given in Korean. It is also fun for the students to learn words in another language.
CAN AND SHOULD PARENTS STAY AND WATCH THEIR CHILDREN IN CLASS?
Parents are always welcome to stay during their children’s class as long as they are neither disruptive nor distracting. Most children and beginners have very short attention spans and are easily distracted. We, as instructors want the students and parents to be comfortable with class, and can do our best job when we have the undivided and complete attention of the students, but if the child is continuously running to his/her parent, this could be a problem. A benefit for the children to having their parent watch is that the parents can help their children at home. By watching the parents can pick up things a child might have missed, and the parents can write the techniques down for their children.
WHAT IF A STUDENT WANTS TO QUIT?
Almost all students reach this point periodically and need guidance and encouragement from their parents and their instructor. Each belt can be viewed as a short-term commitment and used as an evaluation point. The long-term commitment may be the black belt with the smaller goals established to get a student there. Tae Kwon Do is a means for learning how to establish, set, and achieve goals as well as setting new goals and creating long-term goals. Small set backs or frustrations should not deter a student from their short or long term goals. Many times a child is unable to make long term decisions like this. They are more concerned with the here and now. Parents need to give their children guidance and not just let them quit and give up. On the other hand, we understand that it may be difficult to convince a child to continue to do something once their mind has been made up to quit. In this case have the child achieve or finish the short-term goal of their next rank and see if that accomplishment changes their mind. If not, take a break from training. It is very difficult to try to teach a student that does not really want to be in our gym training. In our experience once a student quits they do not return and the student that gives up generally wishes they would not have at some point down the road. Parents or students with concerns are always encouraged to talk to their instructor.
HOW MUCH DO STUDENTS NEED TO PRACTICE?
As with anything, the more you practice the better you will be. As a beginning student it is not important to remember everything and expect perfection. If you can only remember how to do techniques, such as a kick, block, strike or stance and not a sequence or series of moves, then only practice the techniques you can, even this will make your ability better.
WHAT IF STUDENTS USE THEIR TAE KWON DO TO HIT, KICK, OR INJURE SOMEONE?
The instructor needs to know about such behavior immediately. Whether it happens on the playground with classmates or at home with siblings, this should be addressed immediately and can only be done with your help. In some cases, teachers will report such behavior directly to us. It is important to remember that Tae Kwon Do is for self-defense only, not malicious attacks or horseplay; someone could get hurt. If we find out that this was the case and not in self-defense the student will no longer be allowed to train. We will examine all of the circumstances before making a final decision.
ARE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO COMPETE IN TOURNAMENTS?
It is not required, but strongly recommended that students participate in a tournament or two during their training. Seeprevious section on tournaments in this guide.
CAN SOMEONE COMPETE ON THE STATE, NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL LEVEL?
Anyone interested in competing in a high level of competition has every opportunity to do so. See Master Kevin on the requirements of becoming a team member. We have a lot of experience as competitors and coaches with this level of competition and have had many students medal at such tournaments, as well as ourselves.
WHAT CAN STUDENTS DO TO GET THE MOST OUT OF TAE KWON DO?
The most important thing students, as well as parents, can do to ensure the best possible training available is to trust the instructors with the training for you and/or you child. The instructors work very hard to develop the best training programs they can with every step taken, every method used for a reason. Your confidence and support guarantees that you will get the most from your Tae Kwon Do training.
WHY IS TAE KWON DO SO POPULAR?
Tae Kwon Do’s popularity comes mainly from the fact that it is not a passing fad. It has withstood the tests of time. It is much more than self-defense skills training. It is a lifestyle of physical and mental training and challenges that encourage an individual to strive to do more and be more. The training is proven to develop an individual’s complete being, mentally and physically, joined by an indomitable spirit.