Rank Testings

Discussion in 'Hapkido' started by SaJooNim, Oct 19, 2003.

  1. SaJooNim

    SaJooNim New Member

    A few questions for anyone who wants to answer...

    1. In general, how are the testings conducted at your respective schools? Are the students actually "tested" or is it pretty much a slam-dunk that unless they totally forget everything, they pass?

    In my dojang, the students are made well aware that their promotional testings will be taxing both mentally and physically. Their performance in class earns them the right to test, and their performance during the testing determines whether they are promoted or not. Their physical conditioning & determination is tested by not only demonstrating the requirements they learned at their current rank, but by repeating many of the techniques they learned at lower levels. The average student can figure on spending a minimum of 90 minutes on the floor performing various types of techniques in rapid succession -- interspersed with questions on general history and philosophy (or whatever else the judges come up with). For instance, just this week we had two white belts who tested and their testing lasted just over two hours. Once they finished (survived?) the testing, they actually felt like they had earned and accomplished something.

    2. How are your testings graded or scored? Do you have formal testing scoresheets that require input from each judge? If so, what sorts of things are graded? Do you have established minimum grades or scores that one much achieve in order to be promoted or is it more just sort of a "feeling" that the judges have -- i.e., "I think he/she did well enough to be promoted."

    For us, we use a scoresheet that forces the judges to grade each student in multiple (13) catagories from 0-5 for colored belts or from 0-10 for black belts. Within the section for the requirements they are currently testing with, they are graded on whether or not they actually remember all of the techniques (and in the proper order), they're graded on how well they perform the techniques, they're graded on both their focus and ki, and they're graded on the answers to any questions asked by the judges. Within the sparring section they're graded on the techniques they use, how well they perform those techniques, their control, and their sportsmanship. The breaking section requires scores on how well they perform the techniques (whether they're making wild, exaggerated movements just to break -- or if they are using proper technique), as well as a score for the number of attempts (they only get two attempts -- failure to break on the second means not passing). Then, in a miscellaneous section, they're given scores on both their breathing & balance.

    Now for the kicker on the scoresheets... The scores are added up to figure a percentage of the total possible score. White belts must have a score of 70% or better on EVERY judges scoresheet in order to pass. Yellow through blue must have 75%, the rest of the colored belt ranks must score 80% or better to pass. All black belt ranks require a minimum of 85% (from every judge). If a colored belt (except white belts) student scores 2 or less (out of five) from any judge in ANY catagory, that automatically means they do not get promoted (no matter the final percentage). If a black belt scores below 7 in any catagory by any judge, then the same thing happens -- they do not get promoted, regardless of the overall percentage.

    Not only are the testings made to be just that... a TEST, but the scoring is very difficult. It is not easy to get promoted from one rank to the next.

    Another thing that I have adopted as a rule whenever we have guest judges, is that if any of them express concern as to whether a given student should be promoted or not, then that student will not be promoted. They way I figure it, if I invite an instructor from another style or another school, and they see something in one of my students that would make them think maybe they should be held back, then that is what will happen (even if they scored, say, 95% on my scoresheet) -- because there must be something that really stood out that needs either to be corrected or improved upon.

    Having said all of that, I am very proud to say that in 17 years of teaching, I have had only TWO students who I've ever held back from a promotion. One was a student testing for his black belt the first time, and the other was a guy who was very overweight (who passed the next time around). So, if anyone is thinking that students are doomed to fail with this kind of scoring, all I can say is that this hasnt been my experience.

    I believe when the bar is set high, and the students know what is expected of them, then they can be pushed and challenged beyond what some consider necessary. I really feel like the promotion means so much more when it truly has to be EARNED while under pressure physically, mentally, and by knowing that the scoring is tough to begin with... rather than by being promoted through a testing that was really just a "formality" in every sense of the word.

    The knowledge & physical achievement that you are able to display, combined with knowing that you were challenged and did your best are far better reward than any belt, or any colored piece of tape, or any certificate.

    Ta-ta for now...

    Mike Burnett, Sa Joo
    Shin Koo Hapkido
    Lincoln, NE
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2003
  2. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    We have testings every 2-3 months. The only automatic is white to yellow belt. AFter that it is NOT auto. You choose to test up to green belt then the Senior Instructor will tell you if your ready to test or not, then its your choice if you want to. For instance I was high green for 8 months before I tested. No McDojo here...
  3. Zuiun

    Zuiun New Member

    I'm just curious, why is white-to-yellow an automatic promotion? Or are you saying that white-to-yellow is the only mandatory testing?

    -- Zu
  4. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    My instructor feels that when a white belt tests to yellow, if they don't pass then they totally lose focus and confidence. Now once they are a yellow belt and don't know their stuff, they'll sit there till they do....
  5. Zuiun

    Zuiun New Member

    Personally, I don't agree with this. Here's why: In my opinion, white belt is the most important belt a student will wear. The reason for this is that the white belt signifies the absolute beginning of their knowledge. They have crossed the threshold from being "whatever" into being a martial artist.

    White belts, regardless of age, are not unlike children. The habits a student learns as a white belt are not unlike habits learned by children -- they will be the most ingrained and most difficult to break as the student advances. So they better be good habits.

    Too often, the white belt is seen as some sort of sub-class of martial artist. Students have been tricked into believing that to remain a white belt for too long means they are inferior students. Unfortunately, many schools and instructors have adopted this attitude as well and yellow belts are practically given away.

    The result is that suddenly the yellow belt becomes like a white belt -- the time when the student is really expected to buckle down and being seriously training. But by then, the "something for nothing" mentality is already ingrained in many students.

    In my opinion, the granting of a white belt should be the only "freebie" -- everything after that should be earned through hard work and a proven demonstration of skill and knowledge.

    And if students come into a school with the attitude that they must climb through the belt rankings as quickly as possible, or that hanging out at white belt is only some kind of formality, then it's the instructor's job to educate them on the true intent and value of martial arts training.

    -- Zu
  6. Zuiun

    Zuiun New Member

    I don't mean to keep picking on you, but this statement has been kind of gnawing at me.

    It seems to me that if students came into the school and were taught (regardless of what misconceptions they had walking in the door) a proper attitude about being a white belt and what it means, then they wouldn't have to be "automatically promoted" and there would never be a situation where yellow belts are potentially stuck in their rank because they lack the adequate skills to move on.

    Now, I don't know anything about you and your school. The school may very well produce some fine martial artists, but based on what you've said, I really don't agree with the white belt attitude. Starting off martial arts training with a "gimme" promotion just seems like starting off on the wrong foot.

    -- Zu
  7. TigerAn1

    TigerAn1 A Southern Praying Mantis

    I just completed my first rank testing to yellow belt last Saturday. It lasted about 30 minutes and consisted of Basic Falling (forward and backward x 3) and Rolling, Basic Striking (fist, knuckle, and knife hand), Basic Kicking (front snap, inner and outer axe), demonstration of 10 learned wrist escape and attack moves in sequence with partner, Tan Jon breathing (down, side, up, center), Mental education (4 -5 questions and terminology), demonstration of proper conduct (bowing, fix uniform, handshake, turning, and stepping). Lastly, there was board breaking and technique. Out of a roll, come up into fighting stance, drop down to one knee, line up the board 1-2-3- hit. I smacked the board too close to my pinky and did a good number on my knuckle. I shattered the board in two- wasn't very clean at alll- but it broke.

    You're afforded only two incorrect's per catagory.

    I did pass. For me the mental was the toughest as some explanation's are quite lengthy, and you don't want to look like a fool in front of your peers.

  8. Chan Fan

    Chan Fan New Member

    Congratulations on your first of hopefully many successful belt gradings.

    I am a little surprised that you are already doing board breaks for your yellow belt. Most of the beginner students we have at our school do not even know how to make a correct fist when they start out, so to expect them to break boards seems to me to be unreasonable. IMO it may even end up discouraging a beginner if they either fail the break or end up with a broken hand.

    How common is this requirement among Forum member's Dojangs? Am I alone here in my thinking, or is this common practice in most Dojangs?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2003
  9. Tosh

    Tosh Renegade of Funk

    From a TKD perspective it's usually side kick from 6th Kup to start with. Hand techinques are usually restricted to later on. Since we predominantly use re-breaker boards (which, incidently are a lot less forgiving than thier US counterparts) and messing up hands technique means reduction in quality of life..... these are only practiced once they have bene drilled to death!

    Also no under 13 is allowed to break. Hope that helped.
  10. Jointlock

    Jointlock Valued Member

    I suppose it depends on how long you train your students before you allow them to test and what your standards are. At each rank we require certain level of mastery in each technique before having them test. If they are not competent with those techniques then there is no point in promoting them and expecting them to learn a whole new set that they can't do well either. That is why we only have testings every 4-5 months.

    The punch (forward, reverse, lunging) happens to be one of our white belt techniques. A student testing for his/her yellow belt should be able to execute a punch properly and must be able to go through at least one board. If they can't, have they really learned anything in practice? They should especially be able to make a proper fist.

    I'm not saying that board breaking should be required for yellow belt or for any rank at all, but if you're testing for any belt you should be able to do the techniques properly.
  11. Disciple

    Disciple New Member

    I am not quite sure I understand the point about not being able to break until you are 13. I have been breaking since my white belt test in... hmm I thin winter of first grade. Our white blet break it a Hammer fist so you don't have to take a big risk on breaking knuckles. then the yellow belt, for me, was a med hammer kick.
    Orange belt break is Chun Kwan (fore fist punch)

    I broke with my forefist younger than 13. I did that in a demonstratin, and that was through 1 inch of wood, (2 half inchers), when I was... hmm I think 11 or 12. .... When I tested for my black belt, I had to do Set ban kyuk pal (3station break) I don't remebmer my 2 breaks, but one of the 3 was Chalban Kwan soo(finger jab/spear hand, with the top 2 joints bent), I wanted to do Kwan Soo( regualr spearhand) but the judges would not allow me... specifaclly they were suprised and said, break with Chalban Kwan Soo, very politely.

    I am a practitioner of Tang Soo Do by the way.
  12. TigerAnsTKDLove

    TigerAnsTKDLove Ex-TKD'er 2005.

    for testing at my tkd school. a boy that was testing for yellow belt he was a white belt.... he failed once and then the monday after the saturday testing he re-tested and passed. but not only did the white belt fail other kids failed too. so no my school aint no mc dojo testing is all 100% serious no fun and games.
  13. Tosh

    Tosh Renegade of Funk

    Reasoning behind it is mostly two fold.

    A) The material that is required to be broken.

    Plastic re-breaker board which are not very forgiving, I have my doubts about UK vs USA boards being the same since I've never seen a USA one. However the UK counterparts give no relief are not broken and I would never let an under attempt a break unless I was sure of thier technique via focus pads.

    B) The nature of the skeletal structure of an under 13 year old.

    since the first number of break go through kicking motions, there is a lot that can go wrong if the technique is performed incorrectly. Broken feet, fractures, hairline fractures, Since these technique can be adequetly tested using focus pads until such time the student has started to really develop physically I personally see the risks greater than the net result.

    In short, I feel it is unessecary to ask "children" to perform these tasks as a requisite. Especially hand technique, since the material is so unforgiving. I do not want to be responsible for impairing the quality of a childs life for the sake of passing a grading.
  14. Bulldog

    Bulldog New Member

    One questiong for a NON Hapkido guy...

    I mentioned on another post that I had just go the Bong Soo Han video series and liked it very much.

    I would like to know if a lot of self defense techniques, kicks, strikes, falls, etc. that Mr. Han showed are pretty universal in Hapkido requirements for rank advancement?

    Sorry if this is a little off...But, I am curious...it seems there are many differences in Hapkido just like Taekwondo...no universal approach to curriculum/testing/requirements...
  15. darlph

    darlph New Member

    Testing is different just like the styles and instructors. Myschool not until you reach green in a 10 belt sytem 1/2 way and it is 1 board with a front kick and a reverse punch 1 board. Our boards are cut according to age and size, strength, of the student. 4 diff. sizes. Beg. students white and yellow have their own group test time on Friday, which goes over all curriculum they have been taught with a 10 question written test. Gold and up to Brown on Sat afternoon The higher the rank the longer you have to be tested on all the learned curriculum and forms, self defence. Then those that are ranked to spar. Black Belts is a 2 all day event. Small children should not be breaking boards, I'm saying 3-7 year olds, because of bone developement. Of course there are exceptions.

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