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What does belt testing night look like at your dojo?


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At our dojo the instructor only lets students test if he's fairly sure that they could pass. Not all kids meet that criteria and are allowed to test.

 

On test day, he divides all the students into groups of 8. They test 8 at a time, doing kicking drills (I think this is just to warm them up and get the jitters out), forms, bag kicking, paddle kicking, and board breaking. A couple of black belts help the younger kids to keep the flow. Another black belt is marking sheets with scores for each student.

 

No one is given a belt on that day. The tests are on Fridays or Saturdays and results are posted on the next Monday. Those who passed (and not everyone does but most do because they really were ready) receive a certificate and their new belt in a short ceremony during their class.

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In our dojo, it's one or two at a time and they push them very hard. They do not always pass, but are given a chance to re-test in a fairly short period of time--enough to let them work on whatever technique was not up to standards. Ds has had to re-test at least once over the years.

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We just started Tae Kwon Do and while our "dojo" is very informal (they meet in a church) they still seem to follow all the rules of their organization as far as how the classes are run. The first belt testing since we joined is this weekend and we're not going, since my girls aren't ready to test yet (they only know the first half of their form) but on Tuesday they were preparing for testing and we were told what to expect. For the actual testing, everyone is expected to sit quietly around the edges of the mats (they can stretch out while they wait) and the person being tested goes through their form three times facing in three different directions. They are judged by multiple black belts and they will not know if they advance until the following week. I'm not sure what else is involved, like if they line up as usual or go through any opening exercises. The school is small, but there's a lot of individual attention and it seems fairly disciplined and testing seems to be taken seriously from what I can tell never having gone to one.

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I've heard of this sort of thing, and I'm with you. I'd be horrified for my child.

 

My kids do a different martial art, but testing is a very sober thing. Like Jean's group, 90% do pass because they aren't testing unless they're ready, but not everyone advances at the same rate and there are indeed some who fail testing because of nerves or too many errors. They aren't give the belt until the last class of the month, and it's also a very serious affair.

 

Black belts are only give out after at least six years of work, and not before age 16.

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It is done during class time and no one is tested unless the teacher is sure that the student will pass. The students are asked to line up against the wall and the individual tester is asked to come forward. They bow to the black belts. There are usually 3 sometimes more. They are told to do their basics and then they must do their forms. Once that is done they do their one steps and self defenses. Once they get to their green belt they must do knife defenses and take downs. Then they must fight a one man fight for one minute getting all their techniques down. If the person is going for his black belt he must fight a one person fight for one minute and a 3 person fight for 2 more minutes. It is a very difficult test and our form is very serious when it comes time to get your black belt. Once the student is done then another is called up. We rarely test more than 3 kids at a time. It is a very stressful time because you are standing by yourself. It is done that way because the student needs to really know his stuff if he has to do it alone. If they do it with other students it's easy to watch the other students beside you and copy. The student does not get the belt until next class and they get their certificate a couple of weeks later.

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Ours is very informal. He waits until they're really, really ready and they just go up one at a time on test day and calls out a bunch of stuff for them to do. Forms, kicks, punches, whatever. He always waits until he is sure they can pass because he doesn't like to disappoint them but I have seen him fail older students who were goofing off while waiting their turn. He didn't let ds pass out of his white belt until he had been in over 6 months. Then they spar and then the rest of the class gets to spar. Results and belts are given out in a week and they're given a certificate.

 

Black belt is different though. They go to the official association place and it's only held once every 3 months. It's the only real place in the country to get your black belt and only the first 3,000 registered can test that day. They go up in groups of 8 or 12 or so and do a few forms, then move to the sparring and then break boards and that's it. But they are judged by the members of the association board so it's a really big deal. They find out if they pass a few weeks later and get their belt like 3 months later. My kids have been in Korean classes for months because Master wouldn't let them test without making sure they'd be able to understand the judges. Their test is day after tomorrow.

Edited by dawn8500
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I've only been to a lower belt testing, so I'm not sure what the upper belt tests are like. For the lower belts (orange, blue/high blue and green/high green in our dojo), the sensei will not recommend someone for testing until they know the person can pass. At the test, they warm up as a group, and then each level tests together before a panel of senseis. They do basics and katas (choreographed patterns of basics) and sparring (except for orange belts). Then the results are announced (at the lower levels they pretty much all pass), come up and get their belts and certificates and then take off their old belts and put on the new ones. Like your old school, from what it sounds like.

 

Like I said, I haven't seen the upper belt tests, but I know that they are taken very seriously. Anything past high green has to test in Oregon at our organization's headquarters (to get the higher quality judging, I think). Those who test for black prepare for at least 6 months. If you're under 16 you can only be a jr. black belt.

 

However, from what I understand our school outperforms many others at tournaments because of the seriousness with which we approach promotions. So even if the belt doesn't mean much, good training will go a long way. I don't know how this would work for you, but you might consider going to a local tournament and observing the dojos that are represented there, figure out which ones emphasize form and technique and enroll in that dojo...or if it's too far, maybe see if he could do private lessons and spar with them once a month?

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I don't know what to say. Black belts are becoming as common as my kid is an honor roll student bumper stickers. What happened to the days where they were special and truly stood for quite an accomplishment?

 

I know a woman whose 9 or 10 yo is getting his black belt after about two years of lessons. :001_huh: If you pay the fee for the length of your contract, you get a black belt. I start to feel sorry for those who actually earned their REAL black belt, as it starts to lose meaning when everyone has one.

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Ds took TKD a few years ago. For lower belts (red and below), the testing takes place on a Saturday. Like PPs, the kids sit around the mats, each class with an older student sitting with them to help them keep still and respectful. (Adults had separate classes, except for black belts. I don't recall where they sit.)

Pretesting happens the week before, so that they could work on whatever they weren't sure of.

 

Each student is called individually to go thru forms. Then everyone does the sparring (but I don't know if the earliest belts spar--can't remember). Board breaking is last.

 

Belts and certificates are given out one by one. Each person is called up and sometimes there are little compliments given then, too. The Master ties the new belt on.

 

EVERYONE behaves. EVERYONE, regardless of whether you are testing or not, comes to support the dojang. If you aren't testing, I think you sit separately. The whole thing takes about 3 to 3.5 hours.

 

The black belt sparring is closed to the public and closed to those not invited, because it's bloody and violent.

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I know a woman whose 9 or 10 yo is getting his black belt after about two years of lessons. :001_huh: If you pay the fee for the length of your contract, you get a black belt. I start to feel sorry for those who actually earned their REAL black belt, as it starts to lose meaning when everyone has one.

 

:iagree: We have a number of those places around here. My two older boys are black belts and it took them 6 − 7 years to achieve that. When they're told that a 7 yo in our church is getting his black belt after a year, it's difficult for them to keep their mouths shut!

 

Anyway, testing here for the lower belts is done during class time. The kids who are testing do so alone in front of 2 − 3 black belts. The black belts write copious notes about their testing. Then, at the end of class, the kids receive their new belts and a certificate. Their instructor does not allow kids to test unless she's sure they'll pass either.

 

To test for higher belts, they come in on a Saturday and test. Those tests usually take 3 − 5 hours and they're very formal. The black belt testing took place over 2 Saturdays. The first day was EIGHT hours of testing - physical fitness as well as everything else. The parents were not allowed in for the first few hours. Then, they have their formal program that each candidate puts together showcasing his/her skills and abilities in front of the entire club and their parents. It was an AWESOME night. They were presented with their black belts that night in front of the entire club.

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Belt tests at our dojo is a combination of some above. Taken seriously with a panel of judges, mostly multi-degreed black belts, rigorous testing, results given at the next Tuesday night class. They do forms, drills, sparring. We don't really do board work at our dojo, but do special weapons work in the upper belts. They have to have been deemed ready for advancement before they ever get to test, and are given belts and certificates. And many have not passed, so it's not a clearinghouse for the next belt.

 

Upper belts are hard to come by for us, but we know there are plenty of other schools in our city that are a pay-for-belt type of school. We haven't been to a black belt test because in the 2 years we've been there, no one has reached that level, yet, though we have quite a few black belt candidates probably testing in January/February. Our master is SERIOUS when it comes to upper belts, so they must take their time advancing and training. There are no black belts at our school under the age of 17..though this next group will have a 12 year old and 13 year old (GIRLS!) who deserve it - they are that good and have put in the work. They will be deemed Jr. Black Belts though.

 

Our white/gold belts test during class with 2 instructors present, and get their belts if they pass. There have been plenty of kids who were ready, but flubbed their test (in all belt levels that we've seen) and were not passed and had to wait longer to test again.

 

I'm sorry that your son isn't finding a good serious fit in the school that he is in. I hope you'll be able to find a new one to help him develop.

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In our studio belt testing night is a zoo- very crowded, no parking, etc. I don't think there is anything they could do about that because it is a small studio and when everyone is there it is packed. It begins with everyone who is taking the test doing a normal opening thing and then a slightly quicker than normal warm up similar to normal classes. They have a table in front and the higher black belts sit as judges in front.

 

They bring the kids (or testing adults) up according to their belt color and they all do form together. If there is a lot of people in one belt then they will break it into groups so everyone can be evaluated fairly. After that, they are called up one by one to do their board breaking. We don't include sparring in our testing except for black belts. For lower belts, they will not allow you to test unless he thinks you are ready. It would be very hard to fail a belt test if you are under about a brown belt. In the higher belts, they will occasionally fail, but generally he won't allow you to test if he thinks you can't do it. The higher belts must also explain what their form and character trait mean, they may be quizzed on the forms and character traits for the lower belts and asked to demonstrate random ones. You aren't given a second chance for this and I've seen entire groups of red belts sit down and not even be allowed to go further in testing because they could not explain the character trait or could not remember the lower belt forms. He will give most belts and younger kids several chances with the board breaking but if you don't break it, you don't get the belt. I very rarely see someone who was approved for testing who failed because of board breaking because if you miss it very much in class you won't be allowed to test.

 

We know that night who passes and who doesn't but you usually don't get your belt until later. They will have a separate belt ceremony class later that is also a crowded zoo. Sometimes he will have the demo team perform for that and we will sometimes have a party. You are handed the new belt at the belt ceremony but, except for my 3yr old who got her first new belt put on by our Master in the ceremony, you are not allowed to put it on until after the ceremony. Children must give the belts to their parents and he advises us that we may give them the belts when we think they have done something special at home to earn it or not to give them their belts if they aren't showing respect at home or school.

 

The black belt testing is a whole different thing. I've never seen it myself but I can't imagine anyone getting a black belt here without having serious skills. My son is a deputy black belt and there's no way I'd let him test yet even if we were offered the chance because he'd get his butt kicked. They have to fight 3 of the black belts at one time and it lasts all day. I've heard they are pretty intense and scary and he advises mothers that if they intervene to stop it, then their child won't get the belt, so maybe we don't want to watch that part. :001_huh: It's normal to be a deputy black belt for at least a year or two before testing. You also don't get to be a black belt without being able to lead some classes effectively, you have to write a paper, you have to come up with your own routine, and a bunch of other things. We actually have a book that you are given when you get to be a red belt that explains everything you have to do to earn a black belt.

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If you google McDoJo, you can find sites that give lists of warning signs of "black belt mills," too. Many black belts is one of the signs, as well as earning black belts in 2-3 years, an emphasis on "ninjas" (the boy I mentioned above had a "ninja" b-day party at the TKD business,) lack of sparring, very young black belts, hard-sell tactics, etc.

 

If there are more warning signs there, it might be time to look elsewhere. Can you call your old TKD and ask if they can recommend someone where you are now?

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My kids do Kung Fu and testing is nothing like what you describe. Testing for all belts but black are done when the kids are ready, at the end of class. They are told the testing will be the next class and on that day they run through the material with a teacher as a pre-test then if they pass that then they go to a black belt for the official test. No one is tested before they are ready and they aren't promoted unless they know it. My girls have both been taking it over 2 years. My oldest is a brown belt and my younger one is only a blue stripe (belts go white, yellow, blue, green, brown, black with stripes in between lower belts. Brown has 3 degrees before black). Although I feel bad for the younger one, she hasn't put forth the effort the older one has.

 

I did TKD as a kid and my brother earned his black belt.

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This is who our previous instructor recommended. :(

 

Thank you for the "McDoJo" tip, I wish I had known this info sooner, but hopefully our experience can prevent someone else from having the same.

 

Here's a good link on McDojo's http://mcdojo-faq.tripod.com/

 

Oh, well, that's not good. I would definitely let the previous instructor know your experience here, so that they don't recommend them again.

 

That's the site where I got the long list from. I have to laugh, because it describes every single place around here. :001_huh:

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At our dojo the instructor only lets students test if he's fairly sure that they could pass. Not all kids meet that criteria and are allowed to test.

 

On test day, he divides all the students into groups of 8. They test 8 at a time, doing kicking drills (I think this is just to warm them up and get the jitters out), forms, bag kicking, paddle kicking, and board breaking. A couple of black belts help the younger kids to keep the flow. Another black belt is marking sheets with scores for each student.

 

No one is given a belt on that day. The tests are on Fridays or Saturdays and results are posted on the next Monday. Those who passed (and not everyone does but most do because they really were ready) receive a certificate and their new belt in a short ceremony during their class.

 

This sounds very much like ours as well, except we don't test more than 4 at a time. It's very controlled and the Black belt doing the testing asks for them to do the components of their test - some things are done as a group (like kicking, punching, and patterns) but he'll also ask for one person to do things separately - especially if he wants to see someone's pattern more closely. They also spar during the test, break boards (if they're the right age/belt level) and they're tested on their theory and their self-defence.

 

Belts are awarded at the following class, not at the testing.

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What you described as your son's "testing" sounds like a graduation ceremony. Our Dojo does this. The testing has already taken place during the classes the week prior. During the ceremony, the student receives their new belt. The ceremony allows parents and extended families to attend and celebrate the student's success.

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I went through a free TKD program at our church through 2nd degree blackbelt.

 

Our testings were very much like what you first described. The testing was formal and you had to wait a week to get results/new belt. We did a practice testing a week in advance for anyone who had not been through one before to make sure they knew the procedures. Black belts served as assistant instructors during testing to keep things running smoothly and provide sparring partners for red belts and up (who spar 2:1 as well as 1:1) and also to hold boards.

 

We have a local TKD studio that is a belt mill. I don't know what their testings are like, but their blackbelts would have been blue belts in our school. If your son wants to take TKD seriously, this doesn't sound like the right place.

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