Fleecing black belts

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Rumy73, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Rumy73

    Rumy73 Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I would like your input on a practice common in Dc, Md, NoVa. Tkd schools and hapkido schools have created gup ranks in between Dan levels. These are KKW certification issuing schools. While the KKW has no such requirement, in my experience, masters are not exactly forthcoming that the practice is a creation of the school. It allows the school the generate testing fees every month or two on top of the contractual monthly fee. The cost for black belts increases with each Dan level. In this area first Dan is about $450-$600. Although I could easily be a third Dan by now under KKW standards, I refuse to pay these fees, which I find outrageous. What do these "dan gup tests" consist of? Schools teach various weapons forms (copying Chinese and Japanese staff katas, etc.). While nice to learn, it is not KKW TKD. Students should be given the option. However, that is not the case and Dan tests are essential held hostage. Taekwon dinero.
     
  2. Gwai Lo Dan

    Gwai Lo Dan 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    Messages:
    859
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    58
    I've seen gup tests at every 6 months for black belts. I think the logic is to keep students focused on coming to class and learning. The gup exams were similar to colour belt test (i.e., no big fanfare). I agree on your comment on black belt costs of $450-600: that's the amount I have seen for 1st dan/poom. In fact, one instructor said they charge $600 like all the Korean masters, so it sounded like the Korean masters got together and agreed on pricing.
     
  3. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    Messages:
    21,852
    Likes Received:
    2,086
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Northern VA
    I haven't examined the practices of the schools around here closely, but I'm not surprised to hear it. Lots of the schools are about money, and if they had to meet the requirements of the day care center that they are thinly disguising, they'd go out of business. I could see progress checks or something like that, especially for kid black belts. But any fees involved should be minimal, and really, I don't see charging anything for it.

    But... isn't "dan gup" kind of an oxymoron?
     
  4. Rumy73

    Rumy73 Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    yes, it is. When one master told me about it. i saw the money flash in his eyes and nearly laughed.
     
  5. Twin Fist

    Twin Fist Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,185
    Likes Received:
    209
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Location:
    Nacogdoches, Tx
    welll.......ok......hmmmm...i got nothing.
     
  6. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,009
    Likes Received:
    553
    Trophy Points:
    213
    I think that like many things the issue is "Buyer Beware". My students get a "Handbook" the very first day. Test fees thru 5th Dan are listed. There is a note to the effect that like most things, fees are subject to change. Mostly it has to with with the org. which issues Dan certs raising fees over time. I know some foind my one year probation for First Dans (No fees involved) objectionable, but it is disclosed from day one.

    I am aware of an ITF Pioneer who did this (long deceased and long gone from the ITF before that). The rationale was to keep people from coasting through the time in grade and not really being up to par when their eligibility date arrived.

    I will say that my basic feeling is you should be told / informed about all relevant charges up front. Some have BB clubs , fundraisers and other mandatory items that come as a "Surprise' along the way agfter much time, effort and $ is invested. That surprise borders on fraud.
     
  7. Gwai Lo Dan

    Gwai Lo Dan 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    Messages:
    859
    Likes Received:
    113
    Trophy Points:
    58
    That's pretty uncommon. Every school I have attended talks about the monthly fees, but never about higher belt test fees. Most may say something like "belt fees start at $30 for the yellow belt test" but no one ever says "and 1st degree black belt is $600". No one new would sign up!
     
  8. Rumy73

    Rumy73 Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    OK, I get buyer beware, but it is sad contradiction when martial arts are supposed to represent good ethics yet these kinds of shady business practices are rampant in my area. In defense of people new to MA, they would not even know what questions to ask. In terms of experienced people, I asked lots of questions but did not know to look for land mines everywhere.
     
  9. rlobrecht

    rlobrecht Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    473
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    The school I left did this. They called the tests recertifications, and then you were labeled x Day y level. The recertification tests are the same $50 a gup test is, and are held the same way as a gup tests. There are 4 recertification tests between Dan tests (at least 1st - 3rd.) The school is traditional, so not KKW, and no master org to listen to. Traditionally 2nd Dan and 3rd Dan each have 3 new patterns, so each recertification has you test one of those. The fourth has you test with a weapons pattern.

    Dan tests also increase by $50 a test, starting at $350 for 1st Dan.

    This wasn't advertised for new members, but by the time you're attending the advanced color belt class, you've figured it out.

    Rick
     
  10. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,472
    Likes Received:
    268
    Trophy Points:
    193
    Location:
    Olney, Maryland
    I trained in the Maryland area at a school that adopted this practice long after I started. The tests were for various miscelaneous weapon forms. I left within two years, but this was not the reason.

    Personally, I think that after you've collected five hundred dollars for a testing fee, you shouldn't be collecting more fees for tests that don't even involve a belt (thus no product to order). If the school wishes to arrange their dan grade curriculum in this way, that is really a matter of preference. The quality of the material is another matter. If it is a good, worthwhile program that is one thing. But if it is just grafted on filler designed to keep people paying without teaching anything of value, then I'd say the student is at a point where they've outgrown the school.

    As for myself, I teach in Maryland. I don't do this. I'm independent, so I don't charge for tests at all, as I have no organization to pay into.
     
  11. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,657
    Likes Received:
    480
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Yeah, I think this can be good reason to have small tests for students between dan/poom tests. I think it can be helpful (and not just in martial arts, but most anything) to have small, achievable short-term goals to focus on. If you've only got one huge deadline that's far off, it can be easy to procrastinate, or to get intimidated and think you can't do it.

    So I don't think that "geup" tests for dan holders are necessarily about ripping students off. Though it seems a little iffy if they're 1) not upfront about it and 2) are charging as much for a test where you get a new belt as a test where you don't.

    I also think it's the school owner's perogative if they want to teach additional material beyond what the KKW strictly requires. Frankly, doing one form for 2 years can get a little boring, and I think it's great that some teachers are throwing in extra things like weapons techniques or whatever to keep it interesting for students.
     
  12. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    716
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    Usually when one gets to black belt they should be fairly self sufficient when it comes to their own development
     
  13. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    • Martial Talk Alumni
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    20,311
    Likes Received:
    540
    Trophy Points:
    248
    Location:
    NH
    That's what I thought too. Granted, I have never been a black belt, and may never be one. However, I thought one of the main reasons why earning BB was like being a white belt all over again is because the black belt this to be self-sufficient and manage their own path. Is my perception way off here?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  14. Rumy73

    Rumy73 Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Let me tell you some dollar amounts. Bb gup test fees are $60 a pop. Bb are expected to test 10 times a year. Then add the average monthly fee of $125-$150. Finally, when Bb is ready to do a dan test, that will be about $600 or more. Taekwon Dinero.
     
  15. chrispillertkd

    chrispillertkd Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    106
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I first saw this kind of thing back in the early 1990s. The school in question requited an additional 4 tests between each dan level (they termed them "credits" instead of dan gups). I don't recall the testing fee for these tests but it was on top of charges that were very highly marked up already ($300 for a KKW first dan).

    By the time one reaches first dan they should be able to set a long term goal. That is, while testing from 10th to 9th gup might be a matter of waiting two or three months while learning material and practicing it testing from first to second dan usually involves a waiting period of 18 months to two years. By the time a student reaches that rank the time between gup tests could gradually be lengthened so the student gets used to having a longer period of time between tests and, thus, develop a better ability to put off the need for (almost) instant gratification. It's exactly the same kind of idea between the minimum time in grade requirements lengthening to dan ranks. I know many schools where the period of time between the more advanced gup ranks are about six months and they tend to produce students that suffer no great impediment at keeping motivated in their training.

    Pax,

    Chris
     
  16. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    716
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    No your perception is right on, when you get a black belt you go from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in an even bigger pond, A black belt should be able to manage their own path but with guidance from his instructor and those more senior.
     
  17. ks - learning to fly

    ks - learning to fly Senior Master

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    3,916
    Likes Received:
    629
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Minnesota USA
    although I might draw some fire for my response, I feel I should say that My dojang does keup testing and I agree with it completely. My instructor - who btw does not hide fees - says they are considered 'review' or maintenance tests and I think it's completely necessary....Our keup test are every six months between 1st and 2nd Dan and we need at least 50 lessons between tests, the cost is minimal...I guess the reason I'm a little confused about some of the posts I've read is because some seem to think that once they earn their black belt should be able to 'determine their own path'....However, if Black Belt is considered the 'beginning of serious study' - wouldn't it be fair to think that an occasional review test would prompt a student to hold themselves accountable to a disciplined training regimen?? Further, if it's the beginning - wouldn't it be the time where your instructor would be a valuable asset?

    Again, this is only my opinion - but my next keup test is in October and I'm looking forward to it! :)
     
  18. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,009
    Likes Received:
    553
    Trophy Points:
    213
    You are expecting a lot from a 7 year old ;)
     
  19. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,853
    Likes Received:
    181
    Trophy Points:
    103
    Location:
    Stevenage, Herts, UK
    In my mind, it's because black belt holders (yudanja) are supposed to have "grown up". Ignore for now children doing Taekwondo, and child black-belts. Think during my explanation of coloured belts as being "children in Taekwondo" and black belts as "adults" (albeit 1st/2nd/3rd Dan are young adults, just out of Taekwondo teenage years). So, regardless of the practitioner's real age, consider the rank to be their age for the purposes of this post.

    So while coloured belts (children) need frequent reinforcement that they are doing the right thing, adults should need less so. Young adults probably need it more than older adults (hence why the dan tests get less frequent the higher/older - in my analogy - you get).

    It's often said that Korean GM at the Kukkiwon don't like international masters to attend the Kukkiwon instructor course with patches and badges, etc saying things like "children need these things, not master instructors". While, I didn't hear that when I attended the Instructor course in July this year, the same principle does hold true. Children (coloured belts) need frequent reinforcement in terms or badges or tests, adults (black belts) should need this less and less.

    So, I don't feel that yudanja need additional tests in between dan tests. And just because in my option there shouldn't be all these additional tests, it doesn't mean your instructor isn't a valuable asset - they aren't there just as an exam provider ;-)
     
  20. RTKDCMB

    RTKDCMB Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Messages:
    3,135
    Likes Received:
    716
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    Which 7 year old are you referring to?123
     

Share This Page