U.T.F. BLACK BELT TESTING
The purposes of testing:
There are many good reasons for the tradition of martial arts testing: for the
individual, for the school, for the organization, and for the community.
For the individual there are many benefits for the system of testing. There are
a few people who seem to be born learners, no matter what is going on they want
to learn about it. Most people, however, need reasons for making the effort to
learn. We started learning Taekwon-do with certain reasons in mind, and those
reasons may change, but they will need to be replaced by others in order for us
to want to continue to train. Within Taekwon-do there are many different types
of skills which need to be learned, and many of them at the same time it seems.
Knowing that certain skills are going to have to be publicly demonstrated at a
certain future date does wonders for directing attention and energy, and for
helping not let oneself be distracted by other temptations. The word “tomorrow”
has much more focusing power than “someday”.
Eventually the feeling of competence itself, gained from becoming more aware,
coordinated, powerful, skilled, and capable through this training, gradually
becomes the motivation for further training. Even then though, testing serves
the purpose of giving organization to a training program. It helps to maintain a
consistent direction and standard for the students in the school, and for the
schools in an organization. When the efforts of an organization are consistently
beneficial to a community, the community will have reason to trust and support
When we each first start training, we individually get all the benefits from our
sweat. As we slowly gain some mastery of a few skills we present more of an
example and challenge to the other students we train with. This example and
challenge give them something to model their techniques after and to try to do
as well as, or better. As these students improve, we in turn are presented with
more challenges, examples and ideas. So, as we grow we help the people around us
to develop, and their development gives us more opportunity to further develop
our own selves. This feedback effect is one of the major benefits of group
training. One person shooting baskets alone would never develop the moves of a
Michael Jordan -- no reason and no opportunity.
Some people are happy to be finished with high school and many go out and live
happy productive lives with what they have learned there. Other people want to
go to college and expect to use those skills in the course of their lives. Some
of these people decide there are still more skills they want to acquire and
topics they want to learn about so after graduating they study further to get a
Masters degree. It is similar with Black Belt testing. Advanced degrees are
there for people who are interested in learning more and acquiring more skills;
advanced degrees are not required, or automatic.
Many times getting a Black Belt is compared to graduating from Kindergarten -
now the person is really ready to start learning. The student who just finished
Kindergarten certainly needs to keep using and practicing what they learned
there, but if they took the whole year over again, would they be ready for
Second Grade? Most would say, of course not. Similarly, by oneself, a Taekwon-do
student can, and should, continue to drill the skills which were required at
their last test, but this repetition by itself is not sufficient preparation to
successfully pass them to the next level. The understanding and application of
those skills must be broadened and deepened as well as new skills learned in
order for education to actually be continuing. Time is needed for this learning
to take place, and each Dan level requires more time to prepare for it than the
one before. Listed below are the minimum training time requirements which must
be satisfied before consideration for testing. These are minimum active training
periods, not just elapsed times since the last test. Just as having your college
B.A. for ten years will not automatically qualify you for receiving an M.A., Dan
testing will not be possible unless there has been sufficient successful
advanced education since the last test.
Advanced Taekwon-Do education cannot be done alone, or even by just teaching
junior belts. (Few of us if left completely alone would have invented the wheel,
much less the rest of the car.) Access to seniors and a group of peers is needed
for the opportunity to gain insight, broaden outlook and provide the feedback
needed to advance one’s development, and to possibly add to the development of
the art. More people see more and have more ideas than one person working alone.
No single one of our school teachers could have provided us with the education
we received from all our teachers together.
In the novice Black Belt levels (Dans 1-3), the emphasis is often on “what can
the art do for me?”. During this period much time is spent on learning and
honing one’s personal skills. To pass to the Instructor level at 4th Dan
requires a willingness to pass on to others what many generations of people made
possible for you to learn. It was one of Grandmaster Han Cha Kyo’s basic
premises that one learns by teaching. People not interested in teaching and
learning from it will not be interested in acquiring this advanced Degree.
The physical performance skills often peak somewhere in the middle Black Belt
Degrees. It is during this period that the purpose of training may begin to
extend beyond the personal acquisition of skills. What may have started off as a
quest for personal challenge, and then extended to a wider effort of having
students of your own, may now begin to extend out to a larger circle that
crosses time: “what can I do for the art?” As originally conceived in the
university world, the candidate trying for a Ph.D. must be seen as being capable
of making a worthwhile contribution to their field, not just to themselves, in
order to be seriously considered for that award. If the candidate is judged not
able or interested in furthering the community’s effort they will not attain
this advanced degree. Similarly, the higher Black Belt Degrees are for those
people who are interested in, willing, and capable of extending the art.
Purposes of large group classes and seminars
Any organization needs to maintain good communication to keep all the parts in
touch with each other in order to continue moving in the same direction. Mutual
feedback enriches and reinforces the group effort. Group classes provide the
opportunity for communication, sharing and developing new ideas, feedback, and
affirmation of purpose. These are some of the reasons Grandmaster Han originally
required all Chicago-area Black Belts and Black Stripes interested in promoting
to attend a Headquarters Black Belt Class once a month. These classes benefit
the individual as well as the UTF organization. It should be obvious that the
benefits which come from communication and enrichment did not cease with
Grandmaster Han’s passing. Because of their importance in providing a broader
education for the UTF student, and for maintaining consistency, standards, and a
united UTF approach, these Headquarter Black Belt Classes, now referred to as
Master's Classes, will continue. See below for details
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR TESTING
1. Candidates must be members in good standing of the Universal Taekwon-Do
2. Candidates must maintain a minimum average of twice-a-month attendance at a
local UTF Black Belt class. Black Stripes must have a minimum of one year of
attendance before being eligible to test. Black Belts must successfully complete
their Dan Reviews with the additional minimums of: three years of classes for a
First Dan wanting to test for Second; three and one-half years for a Second Dan
wanting to test for Third; four years for a Third Dan wanting to test for
Fourth. These are minimum active training periods, not just elapsed times
between tests. Traditionally a full training schedule has been understood to be
1 ˝ hours a day, six days a week. The time actually needed between tests will
often be longer than these minimums depending on the dedication, talent,
resources, and time the student has available. Black Belt classes must be
attended and additional skills learned, as well as existing skills further
developed in order for any applicant to be considered for further testing.
3. The Chicago-area Headquarters Black Belt Classes instituted by
Grandmaster Han Cha Kyo proved themselves to be important in providing a broader
education for UTF students and instructors, and for maintaining and developing a
united UTF approach, as explained in the introduction above. Chicago/Wheaton
area Black Stripes and Black Belts wishing to be eligible for promotion testing
are expected to attend Master's Classes once a month on average. Regional
Black Stripes and Black Belts (Illinois/Wisconsin) are expected to attend Master's
Classes as regularly as possible in addition to their
local Black Belt classes. Further, those students who wish to improve and to
test should take advantage of all other UTF resources available to them,
including campouts, tournaments and seminars.
4. Candidates must have their daily instructor’s or program leader's approval to take the test. In
cases where there is no local daily instructor, approval must be obtained from
The Office of the Presidents.
BLACK BELT TEST REQUIREMENTS
1. Candidates must complete the Eligibility Requirements (see above).
2. Candidates must complete a written Black Belt Paper, delivered to the address
given by the deadline posted.
3. Candidates for 2nd Dan or higher must have completed three satisfactory Dan Reviews.
4. Candidates are responsible for payment of the appropriate fees (see your
Instructor or Program Leader).
5. All requirements, applications, registrations, papers, any additional paper
topics, and fees must be completed and submitted by the appropriate deadlines.
6. All applications must be approved by the Office of the Presidents prior to
BLACK BELT PAPER
All people taking the UTF Black Belt promotion test are required to submit a
paper as part of their test. By this level of training it is expected that a
student has done more than just study the Taekwondo book; that he/she is able to
organize and present the information gathered from diverse sources in his/her
own words. Personal experience should be related to underscore and
illustrate various points rather than dependence on a theoretical discussion.
Three copies of the paper should be made. One (printed copy) to be submitted to the UTF,
one to be submitted to your instructor or program leader, and the third to be
retained by you. Be sure to include your name, present rank, school/branch
location, and a 2x2 inch passport type color photograph. Applicants under 18
years of age should include their parent/guardian signature.
Also include a Word (or similar) document, and send via e-mail.
A test application should accompany the paper. Downloadable form below
APPLICANTS TESTING FOR 1st DEGREE:
1. Give a history of Taekwon-Do (including both ancient and modern times).
2. Discuss your personal history in Taekwon-Do, including your personal experiences and
teaching experiences (including students with disabilities, challenging
students, etc.) and any other
noteworthy experiences that have contributed to your growth in Taekwon-do.
3. Discuss the Tenets of Taekwon-Do, with examples from personal experiences.
4. Explain the Junior-Senior relationship principle, as it applies both inside and out of the dojang.
5. Discuss what you are going to do if you are promoted.
APPLICANTS TESTING FOR 2nd DEGREE:
1. Explain the Principles of Living Force and provide personal
2. Explain why we have tenets. Discuss the benefits to us, our martial arts community,
and our broader
3. Explain how being a black belt has affected your life. Give examples that illustrate the
effect of black belt
status on yourself and your community.
4. Explain how promotion to 2nd Dan would affect your training and teaching.
APPLICANTS TESTING FOR 3rd DEGREE:
Discuss ways in which you adapt your teaching styles to different students'
learning styles and abilities.
2. Explain the concept of kudo (self-discovery) as a
central principle of martial arts training, using personal discoveries of your
own as examples. How would or do you structure a Taekwon-Do program to foster
the attitude and philosophy behind this concept?
3. Discuss Big I/little I (big eye/little eye) using examples from your
APPLICANTS TESTING FOR 4th DEGREE:
Topic(s) assigned by the Co-Presidents, to be written for publication
APPLICANTS TESTING FOR 5th DEGREE
Topic(s) assigned by the Co-Presidents, to be written for publication.
Research various sources. Write a thorough synopsis in your own words. Your
discussion can be as if responding to an initiate's questions concerning
TKD. For personal history you might explain the original attraction of the Art
and the evolution of your involvement from that beginning. You could comment on
significant milestones and/or deviations from your path of development. Don't
be reluctant to expose your feelings, particularly regarding the tenets. Be
truthful, don't say what you think your instructor wants you to say. If a
tenet is not meaningful to you, make the appropriate comments honestly. Your
discussion of the Junior-Senior relationship should extend to relationships
found outside the Dojang also.
ALL PAPERS AND APPLICATIONS ARE DUE FOUR (4) WEEKS PRIOR TO THE TEST DATE!! ANY
PAPER AND APPLICATION NOT RECEIVED BY THE DUE DATE MAY BE HELD OVER FOR THE
Mail your application, passport type photo, and paper to:
UTF c/o Master Bruce Helman 3980 Dundee Rd. Northbrook, IL.
E-mail: Helmantkd @ comcast.net
Give the test fee to your Instructor or Program Leader.
BLACK BELT PERFORMANCE TEST
Taekwon-do as a martial art and discipline is intended to develop the body, mind
and spirit. To determine how well a person’s training is proceeding all three of
these elements need to be periodically checked.
A student’s responses to the topics in the required Black Belt Paper might be
seen as a mind check revealing his or her knowledge and understanding of Taekwon-do.
The purpose of the Performance Test might be seen by some people as a way of
checking the student’s physical state of development. However, there does not
seem to be a way of directly checking just the spirit by itself. In fact, it is
neither possible nor desirable to try to check the body, mind or spirit
The knowledge and understanding revealed in the Paper is mental, but has little
value for the student, for Taekwon-do, or for society if it cannot be put into
action. Similarly, athletic ability for its own sake is not art. And a spirit
which is easily discouraged or distracted will achieve little. It is the
integrated development of all three of these areas into a single positive,
creative life force which is the goal of this martial art. It is actually the
purpose of the Performance Test to check how far the student has progressed down
the path to this goal. The Performance Test provides a means of determining how
much the various tenets (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control,
indomitable spirit, community service, love), the training principles
(awareness, relaxation, timing, realistic application, repetition; integration,
spontaneous adaptability, flow) and the principles of force (Center, Integrated
Breathing, Focus, Control Of Mass, Acceleration) have become
a part of the applicant’s everyday life and actions.
The Performance Test for convenience is usually divided into four broad
categories: Patterns, Self-Defense, Sparring, and Breaking. Certain training and
force principles may only appear in one category while other principles will
appear in several of them, either by the nature of the category or by the
situation created by the judges to test the individual. The types of activities
and the principles being checked in each category will be discussed below.
A person Dan testing will be expected to know all their patterns from White Belt
through the highest assigned pattern for their present Dan, and be able to
perform them all in a way which reveals their current level of pattern
understanding and mastery (i.e., a Blue Belt pattern should not look like it is
being performed by a blue belt, but by somebody with much more advanced skills).
At this point in the student’s training the judges do not expect to see
demonstrated a string of numbered steps. Pattern performance is expected to
incorporate all the force, power and training principles of UTF Taekwon-do.
Since in patterns, unlike sparring, the entire order of attacks and blocks is
known before the student starts, it is expected that the student will be able to
maximize the performance of each technique, the effective transitions from each
technique to the next, and the ordering of the various techniques through the
use of soft/hard, fast/slow, high/low, and grouped combinations into a single
coherent pattern which portrays a realistic encounter against unseen opponents.
This test section is also a good place to have history, and Korean and English
The student is expected to be able to respond in a useful way to any of the
situations and responses outlined in the UTF Self-Defense charts (not currently
available on this site; see your Instructor of Program Leader for details) except for
sweeps and throws which will only be performed at the request of the judges and
with the proper equipment available.
For this portion of the test Taekwon-do strikes and kicks are not emphasized.
There will be ample opportunity for the student to demonstrate his or her
development of these techniques in the pattern, sparring and breaking sections
of the test. As stated in the UTF Self-Defense Principles, self-defense
situations in the UTF concentrate on tools, targets and techniques not usually
permitted in sparring situations. These include the use of short-range
techniques (elbows, knees, head), leverage techniques, joint manipulation, and
nerve and pressure points. Judges will not be looking for “memorized” techniques
applied to particular situations, but for a “working” knowledge of the basic
principles and methods of self-defense which indicates the student can safely
adapt and apply these principles to whatever new situation may present itself.
While many training and force principles will be used in this section, the
emphasis is on realistic application and spontaneous adaptability. Attacks are
not expected to be released unless there is sufficient reason to do so. Higher
Dan applicants and larger students will be attacked more determinedly to better
challenge their capabilities.
The student is expected to display appropriate use of power while performing any
and all forms of 1-step and free sparring including handicapped, multiple
opponents and against “weapons”.
A wide variety of well-timed, well-executed techniques to appropriate targets
should be displayed, including combination and jumping techniques. Since
sparring is defensive as well as offensive, a good variety of well-controlled
deflecting and checking blocks (rather than smashing blocks) are expected to be
seen, as well as counterattacks executed immediately off of these blocks. More
advanced students will be expected to demonstrate better understanding and
control of the offensive, defensive, tactical, psychological, and timing
elements of sparring.
This test section highlights awareness, focus, self-control, adaptability, flow
Techniques are chosen by the judges according to the applicant’s Dan level,
training, physique and age so that the applicant’s degree of mastery of the
principles of force, of the tenets, and of the training principles can be
demonstrated. These techniques might include speed breaks, bricks, multi-board,
combinations, simultaneous, and flying breaks. Sometimes the applicant is
allowed to choose the techniques they wish to perform, in which case
self-knowledge also becomes apparent.
This section, however, is not merely a test of successfully “jumping through
hoops”, because it is not the actual breaking that determines success. The
applicant may be in a panic and not really in control of their actions, emotions
or body but the boards may still break. In such a case the breaking of the
boards did not test the years spent developing special physical and mental
skills, but only demonstrated sheer will power and brute strength. This is not
the purpose of this test or of the student’s training. Brute strength to break
boards can be, and has been, used by people who have never trained in Taekwon-do,
but the accomplishment is not sufficient to be called a trained skill or art, or
to be awarded a black belt.
On the other hand, an applicant who has spent years developing skills which
cannot be successfully applied has also not achieved the intended goal of their
Situations may also be created by the judges, within these various categories or
as separate situations, so that the applicant’s level of adaptability,
confidence, general preparedness, attitude, and other factors can be assessed.
HIGHER DAN TESTS
While certain Patterns(Hyung) are only available for higher Dan applicants to
demonstrate, most Taekwon-Do techniques are available to all Dan level
candidates. In other arts and occupations, it is not whether a person can dance,
sing, paint, act, or skate that is the accomplishment, but rather how well these
can be done which reveals how accomplished the person is in their art.
A sidekick performed by a Black Belt should be much better than when performed
by a white belt, or a red belt. A First Degree pattern performed by a Second Dan
should be more accomplished, powerful and in control than when performed by a
First Dan. Similarly, as the student’s training slowly takes him or her towards
“mastery”, it is expected that self-defense techniques, sparring and breaking
techniques performed by a Fourth Dan would be more thoroughly assimilated and
automatic in more situations than those performed by a Third Dan, those of the
Third Dan be more accomplished than a Second Dan, and so on. In UTF Taekwon-do
it is not how “advanced” a technique is used, or how many techniques are used,
which demonstrates how high a level an applicant has achieved in their training,
but primarily the quality of the techniques and responses which separates lower