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What is Tae Kwon Do?
It is a form of martial art training from Korea that is over 2,000 years old. It aims to achieve a student’s development of courtesy, integrity, self-confidence, self-control, perseverance, commitment, and unbreakable spirit. Tae Kwon Do is NOT a cult or religious sect nor is it, as the movies depict, a violent militant group that teaches students to beat up people. Tae Kwon Do IS a very sensible method of consistent mental and physical training that is a year-round, lifetime system of exercise and personal development.
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 student’s progress. Each student will progress at the speed that is equal to their personal abilities. There are ten belts, or goals, in the sequence starting with white on up to the black belt – the ultimate goal.
How are the Belts ranked?
Beginners will achieve their first belt early in their Tae Kwon Do training starting with white and on to orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, purple trim, brown, red, and finally, black. Juniors, or students under the age of 16, will earn a Junior Black Belt, or Poom. Adults earn a first degree Black Belt, or 1st Dan. Black Belts are ranked from 1st, 2nd, 3rd and a 4th degree ranking is considered a Master Instructor. A 5th degree ranking is a Kwan Jang Nim (or President of the Association) as in Grand Master Michael Lee, president of Lee’s Tae Kwon Do. The next rank is 6th degree Black Belt and 7th is a Grand Master, as are 8th and 9th degrees. The highest rank of distinction is a 10th degree Black Belt who is considered to be a Great Grand Master.
What does a Certification mean?
In the Lee’s Tae Kwon Do system, colored belt ranks are certified, or officially recognized, through the Lee’s Tae Kwon Do Association. Because Grand Master Lee is a certified examiner for the Kukkiwon, all the colored belt rankings certified are officially recognized world wide as official rank, whether it is a white belt or a 2nd Dan. The Black Belts are certified through the World Tae Kwon Do Federation upon the recommendation of Grand Master Lee. Black Belts are certified and registered with the Kukkiwon in Korea, the World Tae Kwon Do Headquarters. The World Tae Kwon Do Federation is recognized and accepted by the International Olympic Committee. The president of the WTF and the Kukkiwon, Dr. Un Yong Kim, is now also the vice president of the International Olympic Committee that has authorized Tae Kwon Do as an Olympic sport beginning in 2000.
Can someone compete on the State, National or International level?
If someone is interested in a higher level of competition, Grand Master Lee’s programs can prepare a student who has the interest, desire, and ability. Students, both male and female, of Lee’s Tae Kwon Do have competed in State and National Competitions in recent years and fared very well at that level.
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 qualities 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 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. This is part of the circle of Tae Kwon Do. Of all the training once 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 of the gym.
What is Belt testing?
When the student has completed the required time and material training requirements, only at that point will a test date be set. 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, and 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. Advanced students are required to complete the exam with little or no assistance. Junior and adult black belt tests must be passed with no assistance.
Can a student fail?
No. If a student continues to try and persevere, then she/he will never fail. She/he may not complete all the requirements at the time of their test, but re-tests are always offered a week later on material missed for colored belts and a month later for Black Belts. Tae Kwon Do is not about failing, but about succeeding. Instructors will see that each student can succeed no matter what it takes. In the gym, four letter words like “can’t” and “don’t” are replaced with “can”, “do” and “try” There is no giving up so there is no failing.
How often do the students test/get new Belts?
Beginners test for white belts a few weeks to a month after they begin training. The next tests for orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, purple trim, brown and red are held in about three-month intervals. Preparation for black belt testing may span 6 to 12 months, but always depending on the ability of the student. When students appear ready to test, they will be given advance notice as to the exact date of the test.
What do the students receive with testing?
White belts earn their first belt and the right to wear the uniform. Following tests are awarded a new belt and advanced certification. These certificates should be kept in one place for verification at black belt time. The certificates measure 8-1/2″ by 11″ and are suitable for framing. A good way to keep certificates together is to put each new certificate in the front of the frame while keeping the previous certificates in back.
What are test fees?
There is a fee for each level of belt testing. The fee covers the costs of belts, boards, certificates and the examiner’s fee, which may include travel. There is a one-time fee for each rank. Test fees are due prior to testing and monthly fees must be current in order to test. Any special arrangements with testing fees must be made with the instructor and examiner at least a week prior to the test.
Why learn Korean terminology?
Korean is the universal language of Tae Kwon Do. It is also fun for the students to learn words in another language. It also prepares students for competition, as all competition and commands in the sport arena are conducted and given in Korean. 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 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.
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 their 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 do different people, sometimes youths, lead the warm-up exercises?
As part of the training for advanced students, young or adult, they must learn to lead. Leading warm-ups are part of this process. Assistants never work without supervision until they are qualified and absolutely ready. All assistants are specially selected by the instructors.
Can and should a parents stay to watch their children in class?
For the first class or two you may want to watch to see what your child is doing, and to make sure they are comfortable. After that it is best to bring them to class, leave and come back for the end of class. Most children and beginners have very short attention spans and are easily distracted. Instructors can do their best job when they have the undivided and complete attention of the students. Parents are always welcome to stay.
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 here and now. Parents need to give their children guidance and not just let them quit and give up. In our experience, the children that give up generally wish they would not have at some point down the road. Students or parents with concerns are always encouraged to talk to their instructor.
How much do students need to practice?
Students may need very little practice to begin with and increasing practice outside the gym as they advance to higher ranks. It is important to give encouragement but not to expect perfection because both children and adults need room to grow. Part of growing is making mistakes and learning from them. Until green belt, there is no real need to practice technique outside the gym. The most important thing you can practice at home is oral test material. The more they practice their oral test, the better they know the material and the greater their confidence at test time.
What if a student uses their Tae Kwon Do to hit, kick or injure someone?
The instructors need 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 the instructor. It is important to remember that Tae Kwon Do is for self-defense only, not malicious attacks or horseplay; someone could get hurt.
Are students requited to compete in Tournaments?
It is not required, but strongly recommended that students participate in a tournament or two during their training. See the previous section on Tournaments.
What can a student 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 your 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, mental and physical, joined by an indomitable spirit.