Fleecing black belts

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

  1. Thousand Kicks

    Thousand Kicks Green Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I am a little confused by people's responses that these Dan gup tests keep black belts focused and/or are maintenance tests in preparation for the next dan test. At my school, the head instructor has final say on whether any student can test, colored belts or black belts. If you are attending class regularly and putting in the effort your instructor should know if you are ready for the next test. A maintenance test, at least in my eyes, would mean your instructor is not sure if you are ready (i.e. has not been paying attention to your training), or as the OP said, is trying to generate additional revenue.

    If in the span of time between dan tests you can't find anything that you need to improve, then you're not being honest with yourself. No maintenance test is going to help with that problem.
     
  2. sfs982000

    sfs982000 Master Black Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,090
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    73
    Location:
    Woodbury, MN
    Our school does Mid-tem testing for black belt ranks. Beginning at first degree to go to second degree you have to have a successful midterm test from second to third degre 2 succsessful midterms, etc.... The midterm tests have a set fee which in my school is cheaper than most testing fees.
     
  3. msmitht

    msmitht 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
    Messages:
    834
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    san diego
    I have seen this practice and find it both interesting and despicable. Mid level testing is good for black belts as it keeps them on their toes, so to speak, but should not be a means of generating revenue. There was a school in Los Angeles that made Black belts take 4 in term tests that each cost $160. The tests for poom/Dan were 1k, 2k,3k...etc.
     
  4. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,847
    Likes Received:
    470
    Trophy Points:
    158
    A black belt should be able to manage their own path but with guidance from his instructor and those more senior.

    [​IMG] Originally Posted by Earl Weiss [​IMG] You are expecting a lot from a 7 year old ;)

    Any 7 year old
     
  5. SJON

    SJON Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Spain
    As a brief aside, I wonder if you could enlighten me.

    Is this highly commercial model the norm? I mean, do most schools in the US operate fixed-duration contracts, black-belt clubs, special leadership courses, etc., or is it just a particular type of school?

    How about in the UK? Perhaps Andy could fill me in on this. When I was training in the UK (this was nearly 20 years ago) most clubs operated out of church halls or other hired premises, charged on a cash-in-hand class-by-class basis and were run by masters who had a day job.

    How about in other European countries? Gnarlie?

    Here in Spain most clubs belong to professional gyms, and the master is usually the owner. Payment is usually monthly and can be cancelled at any time. There is no obligation to grade, and no obligation to get KKW homologation of Dan grades. My own Dan grades are under the Spanish national federation and under an independent master, and I chose not to get KKW homologation for any of them, nor was I under any pressure to do so. I don't recall ever testing for "half grades" between coloured belts either (I did in the UK, though).
    The only way BB's are fleeced here is via the obligatory refereeing courses that are a requirement for each Dan grade, and the way the instructor courses are set up.

    Cheers,

    Simon
     
  6. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,472
    Likes Received:
    268
    Trophy Points:
    193
    Location:
    Olney, Maryland
    I cannot speak for the rest of the US, but in the DC Metroplitan area, Northern VA, and Maryland in general, it is the norm. I see enough bellyaching about it on the web from people all over the US to confidently say that it is fairly common in most of the US, though I won't go so far as to say 'most' due to lack of firsthand information.
     
  7. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    1,816
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    103
    Location:
    Stevenage, Herts, UK
    This is still the case. Most clubs in the UK (with literally a handful of exceptions coming to mind) operate out of hired premises for a few classes per week and are either cash-in-hand class-paid basis or at most, monthly automated payment. Most instructors do it as a labour of love, making minimal money (if any) and have a day job.

    That certainly describes me. We've had monthly payments for years for adults (no contract or anything, just if you want to train, you pay each month). We switched to automated (standing order) payments about a year ago and it's made a considerable difference.

    For Kukki-Taekwondo in the UK, generally Kukkiwon certification is a must (either through British Taekwondo, our WTF MNA, or through other bodies).

    We have 10 kup ranks (in our club, although this is fairly standard in the UK). Every other kup rank is a stripe/tag - but this isn't considered a "half grade", but a full kup rank. We could use different colours for each of the 10 grades, but it's been long tradition to use something like "white, yellow, green, blue, red, black" with a stripe/tag alternating with the full colour belt.

    We now don't have obligatory referee courses or instructor courses to sit Dan tests (only to be a referee or instructor, respectively). You must have attended a technical seminar in the year before you test (but the cost is reasonable).
     
  8. SJON

    SJON Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Spain
    Thanks. That reminds me of another difference between the UK and Spain. Here the colours are white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, red/black for junior BB's (must be re-graded for adult BB), black.

    Actually, now that I think of it, kids here nowadays do have what I referred to as half grades, but they don't use stripes, they use belts that are - for example - half yellow and half orange lengthwise, like the junior red/black belt. When I came to Spain I was a blue belt under a UK KKW-affiliated org that used a stripe system, but had to start again from white over here. Back then it was all "whole colour" belts in Spain, no tags, stripes or whatever, but that was ages ago. I don't recall when the "bi-colour" belts came in, but that could be seen as a concession to commercialism, I suppose.
     
  9. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    816
    Trophy Points:
    263
    In the Hapkido I studied, we had gup ranks. They were stages (or perhaps levels) of learning. There were 8 gups from white belt to 1st Dan, and 8 gups from 1st Dan to 2nd Dan. From 2nd Dan to 3rd Dan, there were again levels, but I don't recall them being referred to as gups. Each gup was tested at the end of learning for that gup. I seem to remember the tests were $30 each for a gup. Practice BB was $50, and the BB was $100. There was also a monthly fee, which I think was also $30. Now this was back in the 80s, so it doesn't really apply to today's ways of doing things. But I think my GM's son is probably doing the same thing in NJ where he has his school, just adjusting for inflation/cost of living.

    So as I understood gup, it was a level. Every level contained new techniques. Some were completely new, others new, but built on previous learning. Some gups were completely grappling, some punch defense, some kick defense, some other things, such as knife defense, sword defense, or counters to previous techniques. I saw no problem with that. I was always learning new things, with what I saw as reasonable divisions in learning.

    Divisions, whether called gup or something else, purely for monetary reasons is unfortunate. Even for maintaining interest. But perhaps that just says something about American society.
     
  10. Twin Fist

    Twin Fist Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,185
    Likes Received:
    209
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Location:
    Nacogdoches, Tx
    this is nothing but a revenue generation tool, and serves no purpose other than making money. this sounds like a ATA or KKW tactic
     
  11. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2007
    Messages:
    14,887
    Likes Received:
    804
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    In Pain
    One of the few very god tings of the ITA.
    Tests were every two month, color belts 50 bucks, BBs 95.

    To be eligible for BBtest you had to log in a certain amount of classes before the test - in that specific time frame between tests, so you were reasonbaly sure to be in some sort of a shape. From first probationary through - I am thinking 3rd - the $$ was the same. Not sure about further on up, since those were tested at the national tournament.

    450 per test? Interesting....
     
  12. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    888
    Likes Received:
    246
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Austin, Texas, USA
    In the organization I used to belong to they started with "check-up" tests once a year for black belts, but these check-ups eventually became actual tests. I think several organizations do something similar.

    Each rank between dans is designated with a title or number, so it's easy to figure out how much minimum time before their next dan test. For some orgs it's as simple as 4.1, 4.2, etc., but others have some funny titles (at least to me): 4 senior, 4 top senior, 4 high top senior...the higher the dan grade the more ridiculous the titles get.

    Sent from my SHV-E210K using Tapatalk 2
     
  13. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,611
    Likes Received:
    459
    Trophy Points:
    123
    $60 a test almost every month? That does seem kinda outrageous.

    Our dojang does do some mini-tests between dan tests for the reasons I mentioned before, but they're only $20 a few times per year (our regular geup fee is $40, every 2-3 months). And even with the costs of boards, a certificate, etc, we're still earning a little profit off each test.

    So while schools do have to make a profit on various things in order to stay in business and for the teacher(s) to earn a decent living, especially in expensive areas - there definitely is a point where it becomes fleecing the students. It sounds like that school had crossed that line.
     
  14. mango.man

    mango.man 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    18
    My daughter's school did this and presumably still does. She attended from 98-06. BB's didn't have to pay for the tests but had to test at just about every color belt test and demonstrate that they could perform under the pressure and scrutiny of a testing environment. I think it was more about getting as many blackbelts to show up and assist with the testing of color belts than it was about testing the skills of the blackbelts. But they were evaluated and although nothing changed on their uniforms etc they were referred to as 1st Dan / 3rd Gup for example and they could not test for their next Dan until the proper time in rank requirement passed and they had completed 10 intermediary tests from 1st Dan / 10 Gup - 1 Gup.

    As long as we didn't have to pay I was OK with it and with the goofy Dan\Gup designation.
     
  15. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,472
    Likes Received:
    268
    Trophy Points:
    193
    Location:
    Olney, Maryland
    The OP has another thread that, aside from the specifics of dan/gup gradings, is essentially the same; bemoaning testing fees in the MD/DC/NoVA area. The following is my response on that thread:

     
  16. mango.man

    mango.man 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Here is what I replied to the other thread:

     
  17. msmitht

    msmitht 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
    Messages:
    834
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    san diego
    Its the norm. Parents usually do not do their proper homework and just take their child to the closest school with the most convenient schedule. Black belt clubs(lol), overcharging for tests and poor standards plague schools in case.
     
  18. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,472
    Likes Received:
    268
    Trophy Points:
    193
    Location:
    Olney, Maryland
    My old GM did the same thing with regards to having yudanja at geub gradings, and I suspect the motivation was much the same. Personally, I think it's a good idea.
     
  19. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2006
    Messages:
    21,778
    Likes Received:
    2,065
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Northern VA
    And sometimes, they just want a martial art themed day care...

    Minor soapbox rant...

    So many of the commercial martial arts schools, which in the greater DC area seem to be rather dominated by TKD and its variants, are really just disguised day care services. They pick the kids up after school, have a "homework period", other activities and tuck a martial arts class in while watching the kids until the parents claim them. Except that they don't meet the student/caregiver ratios required, may not have done a background check on the staff, who may not even speak English proficiently... But they dodge the requirements because they are "martial arts programs" not "daycare centers." I don't mind the daycare aspect; it's a business call. I DO mind that they don't meet the requirments of a daycare center. And it's going to keep going that way until we have a tragedy...
     
  20. Gwai Lo Dan

    Gwai Lo Dan 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Some interesting points about not meeting daycare license requirements. Here is a funny story from the opposite side.

    I worked at a company that paid parents $15/day upon a receipt from any licensed daycare. So one woman got herself and her home licensed as a daycare, worked the early shift, and took care of 1 child after school: her own! The company soon changed its policy that it paid for "any" licensed daycare!123
     

Share This Page