Belt Testing

Testing is performing your Taekwondo Skills for your instructor (and possibly a panel of judges) to demonstrate your current level and your desire to attain the next belt in Taekwondo.

You've done it. You had your white belt for a few months and you're ready to go on to the yellow belt level. You have been to classes three times per week for the past few months and you know that you can do this! You have practiced your form so often you can do it in your sleep. You have received a nomination form from your instructor early in the week before the test, and now you are ready to go!

You’ll be asked on the test application form why you want to test. You write that you are ready to try new and greater things, looking forward to the day when you can have that black belt that you see so many senior students wearing.

You arrive for your test before the time indicated, in your pressed uniform. You take your time warming up and stretching. Your assistant instructor reviews for you (and the others testing) the kicks, forms and terminology that you will be expected to know. The Master Instructor arrives – with a distinguished panel of judges – and sits at the front of the dojang. You and your fellow testers are called to line up.

The entire class bows to the flags and the instructors, and the assistant instructor leads the class through a prepared class form (your form) as a demonstration for the masters and for the friends and family observers in the audience. After the form (and you feel you nailed it), the class bows and is dismissed to the back of the classroom, where everyone sits down and waits to be called.

After one round of green belt testing, your name is among five called to test for yellow belt. "Yes, Sir," you chime. You stand up, turn away from the instructors, adjust your uniform, and quickly and quietly go to your assigned spot.

" Cha ryuht!" (Attention!) " Kyung ye!" (Bow!), sings the instructor. "Your form, please," one of the judges requests. You hear, "Chumbie!" (ready stance), " Shijak!" (start) – and you execute your form perfectly. You've done your homework and your practicing. This is easy!

The white belt next to you seems to be looking at you for cues and stances. He's not really ready to test, obviously. Or maybe he’ll conquer his nerves soon and do well.

Next come kicks. Again, you are confident. Your repetition in the mirror is paying off. You know that you can nail this. The student next to you is having trouble keeping his balance and executes the wrong kicks several times.

Finally comes the question-and-answer part of your test, the part you fear the most. The guest judge starts asking questions. He asks you to count from one to ten in Korean. " Hanna, deul, set..." – you have to pause for a second before it comes back – "…Net, dasut, yasut, ligup, yeodul, ahop, yeol." –You have NAILED IT! He then asks you for one of the tenants of Taekwondo, to you proudly respond, "Courtesy."

The student next to you still seems to be flustered. You feel sorry for him, but you know that you can't help him with this part of the test.

When the question-and-answer session is done, you bow to the judges and sit down. You were up there for about eight minutes, but it felt like an hour! You are confident that you passed. All your work paid off, and you can just feel that yellow belt around your waist!

You watch the rest of the students test, especially watching the yellow belts, since you'll be learning their kicks and forms next (or so you assume). The red belt sparring is a fun to watch, as they make impressive kicks that you haven’t seen before (“How did that one red belt hit his opponent in the head while spinning in the air?” you wonder).

Finally, your master instructor rises and says some words to the entire class. He discussed the reasons for testing and the need of learning properly rather than learning fast. Finally, the assistant instructor calls for the white belt class to stand up. Your name is called and you run forward.

You turn away from the judges, remove your belt and hold it in your left hand. Turning around, you find your Master Instructor is there to smile at you and tie a brand new yellow belt around your waist. He then shakes your hand. If you hadn't been warned before, you may have done cartwheels back to your spot right then and there – but you wait respectfully for the other students to receive their belts.

Only four of you are called. That other white belt had been asked to step outside of the dojang testing area for a quick conversation with the assistant instructor. He is now sitting in the back, watching. You graciously hope he’ll succeed next time.

You hear " Cha ryuht!" (attention), "Kyung ye!" (bow) – and you and your class of newly promoted yellow belts are dismissed! You return to your spot and watch the rest of the tests, with a yellow belt tied around your waist and your white belt carefully and neatly folded by your side. So long, white belt. Then you hug your family who has been there to support you.

Testing is different for each dojang and you may want to talk your instructor about any concerns you might have. However, here are some basic recommendations:

  • Make sure to find out what qualifications you must have a few weeks before the test date.
  • Turn in your application and fees on time.
  • Arrive early, if possible, with a clean, pressed uniform. If you must be late because of an emergency, call to let the school know you are coming.
  • Respect all judges and all guests. Make sure your own guests know that they must remove shoes; make sure they know where they should sit or watch. Find out this information from your instructor or from senior students ahead of time. (We discussed other common rules of the dojang and belt testing here.)
  • Always respond to questions and commands loudly and clearly. Nothing impresses the judges more than a hearty "Yes, SIR," when you are called up.
  • Respect the other belts who are testing. Watch them. You want to be there one day yourself.
  • Above all, when you have a test to prepare for, make sure you practice your techniques at every class!

We want to hear about your testing story...

We want to hear about your testing story!

Each testing is different... how was your's and how did you feel? We want you to share.

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