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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 the organization.

Group benefits
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.

Advanced Degrees
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


1. Candidates must be members in good standing of the Universal Taekwon-Do Federation.

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.


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 testing.


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 (follow link).



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 self-discoveries;
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.


1. Explain  the Principles of Living Force and provide personal examples.

2. Explain why we have tenets. Discuss the benefits to us, our martial arts community, and our broader community.

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.


1. 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 personal experience.

Topic(s) assigned by the Co-Presidents, to be written for publication

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.


Mail your application, passport type photo, and paper to:

UTF c/o Master Bruce Helman  3980 Dundee Rd.  Northbrook, IL. 60062

E-mail:    Helmantkd @  comcast.net

Give the test fee to your Instructor or Program Leader.

Application Form                                                           Download Acrobat Reader


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 developments separately.

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 terminology checked.

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 and integration.

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 training.

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.

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 from higher.