Testing for higher ranks/belts is an important part of Taekwondo. When students are promoted to a higher belt, they receive tangible recognition for their hard work in class, completion of promotion requirements, and satisfactory performance of all required patterns and techniques during the testing. Belt promotions give students a great feeling of pride and accomplishment and build their confidence.
After students have been training for a few months, the instructor may invite them to test for the first color belt, if the instructor thinks the students are ready. At the testing, students must demonstrate their knowledge of Taekwondo and their ability to perform the techniques and patterns required for the belt for which they are testing.
At the beginning of their training, most students find that their belt tests are scheduled closer together and are shorter in length. This keeps up their interest in Taekwondo until a pure love of the art itself takes over and maintains their interest for a lifetime. As students move further along in the rank system and their knowledge and skills increases, their belt tests will be further apart and will take longer to complete. This is because the skills are more difficult and require more time to learn and more time to perform correctly in a test.
All tests are held in complete safety under the personal direction of the instructor and numerous assistants. In most promotion tests, a panel of senior black belts will judge and score each student's performance.
Purpose of Testing
Motivation. Tests motivate students to train harder than if there were no tests. Taekwondo tests provide extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The reward of receiving a higher rank belt at the end of a test provides extrinsic motivation. The belt ranking system provides goals for students, giving them a purpose to continue training. Peer pressure causes a student to want to keep up with the promotions of their peers. It also causes them to try to do better than their peers. Due to the drive to succeed and face new challenges, the mere presence of a test motivates students to keep training and trying to prove and improve themselves. This is the intrinsic motivation.
Measure Progress. Testing is a way to measure student progress. The belt system indicates progress and, since belts are earned at testing, testing measure progress.
Analysis and Feedback. Testing helps the assessor and the instructor analyze the strengths and weaknesses of students. Feedback is a useful part of a student's learning process. The more detailed the feedback, the more useful it will be. Testing provides an instructor feedback on the standards of the school as whole and on individual students. It lets the instructor gauge the effectiveness of his or her teaching. Testing allows the assessor to see how instructors are doing, whether standards are uniform, and which areas need more attention. For example, testing may highlight weaknesses in a region or particular school or in a specific area of the curriculum. Students test for promotion. For them, tests are not for receiving feedback on problems, that is the role of instructors at mock testing.
Certification. Certification is formal recognition by an authorized body that a student has attained a certain level of knowledge and competence. Anyone may buy a black belt, but an authorized belt certificate from a national organization if difficult to attain. They are earned by successful completion of best requirements at a testing. The certification is prized for a lifetime as proof of belt status even when the skills have faded.
Standards. Standards are what separate many Taekwondo organizations. Standards are debated within organizations and between organizations. Any organization that strives for excellence and respect from peers, must have strict and tough standards. Testing helps set and maintain standards. However, standards without precise documentation are too subjective. Too often, standards are debated without clearly defining which standards are at issue. Individual instructor standards vary but ultimately, the minimum standard is what is specified by the certifying organization. For example, most instructors neglect some area of Taekwondo training for one reason or another. By a strict standard at testing, these deficient areas may be identified. Should the need arise to compare results from one testing to another, strict standards enforced at all testings help make the comparison more accurate. This is especially important when comparing testing across national borders.
Selection.Where demand exceeds supply, selection is required to determine who gets the resources. There is no limit on the number of black belts that may be awarded; however, too many blacks belts dilute the status of the back belt. Strict testing on belts leading up to black belt, as well as for the black belt itself, help ensure that only the most deserving students receive a black belt.
A fee is charged for the testing, which covers facility costs, instructor's time, a new belt, a certificate of promotion, etc. The fee is usually waived for the next testing if you are not advanced.
Requirements for Belt Tests
To be eligible participate in a testing, students must have a minimum time in present rank, a minimum number of class training hours, minimum age, and instructors recommendation. To be promoted, students must adequately demonstrate some or all of the following: a combination of specific techniques, a specific pattern, a set of step-sparring techniques, a board breaking routine, and free-sparring skills. Promotion requirements vary depending on the school, the belt level, and the organization to which the school is affiliated.
What is Being Tested?
During a test, black belt judges look at the way students perform some of the basic and more advanced techniques of Taekwondo as well as the required test material. Judges rate each student's performance on the basis of correctness, power, timing, control, and enthusiasm.
What Do You Get?
If you pass the promotion testing, you will receive a certificate of promotion from either your instructor or the organization with which your instructor is affiliated. You will also receive your new belt.
At some point, either immediately after the testing or at a later date, your instructor will formally present you with your new belt and certificate of promotion. The formality of the presentation depends on the instructor.