What to expect
Gradings are held approximately every three months when students can be tested for promotion. Once 4th kup is achieved the student must then wait for a minimum of six months before their next grading. The period between 1st kup and a Black Belt grading will depend on several factors, but will always be a minimum of six months.
Gradings are formal affairs and you should conduct yourself appropriately. The Examiner will be a senior Instructor or Master and therefore should be treated with utmost respect. However, you should also enjoy the occasion! Everyone always gets nervous, but you should trust your Taekwondo ability and do your best. You will not be asked to do anything you have not already done in class. As long as you do your best, you should be successful.
In order to grade, you must first pass a ‘pre-grading’ which will usually be held at regular training sessions, two weeks or so before the grading. You will not be allowed to grade if your Instructor does not feel that you are ready; therefore to pass the pre-grading should boost your confidence. Once you have passed the pre-grading, you will need to pay the grading fee.
You should prepare thoroughly for your grading by practising away from the Dojang whenever possible and by learning your theory. This is most important.
- You will be told in advance the venue and timings. You should arrive early in a pristine dobok and your belt. Your belt must be tied properly (see here for details)
- 6th Kup (Green Belt) and above will need sparring equipment which MUST be complete (helmet, gum shield, gloves, forearm guards (children only), groin protector, shin pads and boots) provided and approved by SWMA. You will not be allowed to grade without proper equipment. All students should be able to put on their sparring equipment without assistance.
- You will warm up in a room adjacent to the grading hall. Refreshments are available but we suggest you bring water.
- You will be asked to line up outside the grading hall. Your name will be called out and you should answer “Here Sir/Ma’am” and run to your mark. You should then bow and stand in Chunbi Sogi unless told to relax.
- The grading Examiner controls proceedings. A senior Instructor will usually stand to the side of the Examiner and call out instructions. For juniors, the Instructor will usually demonstrate. If you do not hear or understand the instructions, raise your hand. You may be asked to recite the Taekwondo Oath before starting.
- You may be asked to perform any technique, pattern or exercise relevant to your grade. This, of course, includes anything from previous gradings. It is most likely you will be asked to perform all patterns relevant to your grade.
- The Examiner will continue until he/she is satisfied.
- If you make a mistake, just carry on. If you completely forget your pattern, return to Chunbi Sogi on your mark and wait to be asked to try again. You will usually have a maximum of 3 attempts at a pattern.
- You will be asked questions by a panel of Instructors sitting to the side of the Examiner (1st kup candidates will be asked questions by the Examiner at the table). You should wait until your name is called, then approach the table, bow and stand in Chunbi Sogi. If it is apparent you have made little effort with your theory it is unlikely you will pass your grading, so please take this part seriously. You may be asked ANY theory question relevant to your grade, which includes all theory from previous gradings. PLEASE learn your theory!
- 4th kup students and above will be required break wooden boards. The thickness of the wood will depend on your age/grade. You will usually be asked to perform a hand technique and a foot technique on both sides. You will be asked to name the technique you will use, which you should answer in Korean (including inward/outward variations). You will then be asked to measure, and then to break. On approaching the wood, you should bow, then position yourself correctly. Only one measure is usually allowed (any more may be taken as a failed attempt to break). If you are unsure please ask the Instructor. If you do not break the wood, you may be given further attempts. Scoring is based on effort, technique and attitude, so even an unsuccessful break can still score points towards your grading result.
- The Examiner may address the group at the end (usually only juniors). Sometimes students who have achieved a Credit or Distinction will be told; others will be informed of their result in due course by their instructor.