Black Belt and beyond

The coveted Black Belt

A Black Belt is not just an indication that you have learn’t enough techniques and patterns to be promoted, it also shows a respect for yourself, those around you and your instructor. It denotes that you have a good level of proficiency in Tae Kwon-Do.

After a time and once you have earned your 1st Degree Black Belt, you can continue to train through the Black Belt syllabus and advance to higher ‘Dan’ (degree) grades. You will learn more advanced techniques and a deeper understanding of Tae Kwon-Do as an art. If you wish, you may also become an Umpire, Referee or even an assistant or qualified Instructor.

Just as there are grades of coloured belt there are various grades (dans) of black belt and you continue to progress through each. The highest reputed grades are 8th and 9th Dan Grand Masters. Having a high grade is of course not the full story because it’s who you are and what you do with your knowledge that counts. Black belts of various Dan levels including Masters (5th Dan) and Grand masters give much energy and dedication back to the art, passing on their skills to other beginners and experts alike.

Black Belt Seminars

There are always senior grade sessions at the clubs so that you can train regularly with other Red and Black belts from our group.

In addition many regional “senior grade” and Black belt sessions/seminars are held throughout the year. Here you can practice your art alongside many of the hundreds of senior grades like yourself, who come together to exchange and expand their knowledge of Tae Kwon-do. These sessions are always well attended and you can enjoy the experience of instruction from high ranking black belts, (including Masters and Grand Masters). HED TKD senior instructors are always involved/responsible for providing instruction at these seminars.

The instantly recognisable Black Belt

It’s believed that the Black Belt first came about when practitioners would not wash their belts for fear of washing away the knowledge and ‘Ki’ (power/energy) that they had developed through their training. Eventually, the white belts that all practitioners wore, turned Black which contrasted with the suits (Doboks) that were worn which were required to be clean.

All Black Belts are often treated with a similar yet greater sense of courtesy. In Tae Kwon-Do, all Dan grades (Black Belts) are usually referred to as Sir/Ma’am, or by their title (eg. Mr Walton, Mr Lavery, Miss Marie, Miss Goddard, Mr Douglas). Other than the instantly recognisable belt, a Dan grade can be identified through the Dobok (training suit) that they wear. A Black Belt’s white dobok is a variant of the coloured belt suit except for the addition of black trim that runs along the collar and in some cases, the shoulders and legs. From 4th Dan and above the Dobok can have full length black trim down the legs and shoulders/arms. These traits stem from Tae Kwon-Do’s roots in the Korean military where Tae Kwon-Do developed into maturity, being representative of the higher rank of officers and Korean monarchy.

When in formal uniform, it’s often possible to indentify the Dan (degree) that practitioner holds by the embroidery on their belt. It is common for ‘bars’ or roman numerals sewn onto the ends of the belt. Dan grades may also choose to have their name embroidered onto their belt.

Black Belt Syllabus

During your training towards Black Belt, you have acquired the necessary coloured belt skills to learn more advanced techniques and drills. Working onwards from this competence and growing as you strive to master the finer and more complex techniques that Tae Kwon-Do has to offer. These more advanced skills may include extensive study of:-

Coloured belt skill set
Continued study towards a mastery of the coloured belt syllabus. This includes its 9 patterns, all basic exercises and the many variants of set, semi-free, and free sparring.

Throws and Holds
Learn more advanced throws, joint locks, restraints and sweeps. These will enhance your self defence skills and improve your knowledge of body mechanics. Learning to neutralize your opponent without injury requires awareness, speed, good technique, balance and finesse in order to successfully employ such skills safely and efficiently.

Specialist Techniques
Having learnt to ‘walk’ through the coloured belt syllabus and can now begin your journey as a Black Belt. Specialist techniques are those that require a greater amount of focus, distance, control, timing and skill. They are often demonstrated by the black belt or instructor to show technique and control of one’s mind and body. These techniques may include overhead kicks (kicking an object at a great height above the head), two directional kicks, kicks to small targets (eg: target held on the tip of a sharp sword), multiple kicks to hit many targets in quick succession or leaping great heights or distances and striking target(s) with greater precision.

Black belt Patterns
With good competency of the first 9 patterns, the black belt is challenged to learn all about the remaining 15 patterns of Tae Kwon-Do. The patterns on the Black belt syllabus are more intricate and difficult to perform well and require you to focus all your knowledge from previous grades. Additional techniques and skills are introduced and at each Dan you will study 3 new patterns.

Model Sparring
Model Sparring or ‘traditional sparring’ as it is sometimes known is a form of sparring using only traditional Tae Kwon-Do techniques learnt in the syllabus. The speed is slightly slower paced than that of competition sparring but requires great control to strike, kick, block and evade the techniques thrown by ones opponent. Emphasis is on good technique, balance and speed more than anything else. This can be practised in a ‘live’ or pre arranged manner.

2 way Sparring
Become competent and confident to execute all set sparring in a two way manner. Study and practice set sparring in countless variations also helps you to reduce reaction time contributing to improved efficiency and effectiveness of your defensive skills.

Destruction
Destruction is the name given to the action of breaking various objects and material using different attacking tools. Usually consisting of breaking wooden boards (or re-breakable practice boards), it is used to demonstrate good technique, speed and power. Primarily used at demonstrations using materials such as wood and brick, it is also a requirement for those choosing to progress to higher Dan grades as part of the grading process.

Advanced Free Sparring
Learning to spar multiple opponents is much more complex than just dealing with one opponent, This form of sparring encourages the exponent to learn more efficient footwork, awareness and focus whilst dealing with multiple live opponents as well as allowing the black belt to explore the use of more advanced evasion, defensive and counter techniques.

Demonstrations
Tae Kwon-Do’s public displays and demonstrations are usually open to all students/grades and are not mandatory, Black Belts in particular will usually demonstrate the finer points of Tae Kwon-Do showing higher levels of technical excellence, speed, competency, specialist and advanced techniques as well as more complicated and physically challenging patterns.

Knowledge
Your instructors will impart more of their knowledge of TKD facilitating your own development as you continue your journey towards becoming a Master or Grand Master of the modern art of Tae Kwon-Do