Mixed Gatherings determining Seniority.


Green Belt
Apr 8, 2023
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If you host a mixed gathering and need to arrange certain protocols how do you determine who is "Senior"
For instance:
A. My former instructor retired at a certain Dan level and while I was promoted to certain Dan levels beyond his before him, I will forever consider him my Senior.
B. In other instances there may be those who started training after me, and may have promoted to certain Dan Levels before me in other organizations. How would seniority apply?
C. How about those who started before me, promoted to a Dan level or two before me then "retired " and never returned to training?
D. How about if they took a decade or two off and returned but are therefore several Dan Ranks below me?
Hmm, "what a tangled web we weave." I would have to put a good degree of it back on the persons involved and use a 'universal' rule of highest rank. With exceptions.

A. I would use deference and acknowledge your instructor. But as an active practitioner, it is only fair that your rank is acknowledged in the relationship. As far as acknowledgement during or at the start of class, it would come down to who is leading the class for me.

B. Rank is rank. Highest rank 'wins'.

C. If they are not active, and I meet them casually, I shake their hand, I do not bow since that is a Korean convention and we are Not in a class environment. If they come to workout AND they are highest rank, refer to 'B' in an honorary sense. Bow to them at the start of class, then bow to the class in your normal manner.

D. Refer to 'C'. Hopefully they acknowledge they need time to get proficient again.


White Belt
May 11, 2023
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In my area, the its not possible to pass the senior ranks, because they are very senior ranks! We do mixed events several times a year and the competing members all arrange themselves in color rows with no real concern as to who was first. The working ranks and Dans defer to the Senior Grand Master and Grand Masters, but otherwise we all just respect each other and acknowledge our commitment to TKD and the students in the association. The respect is mutual up and down and side-by-side, we are united by our art and such details only really matter at testing cycles and award ceremonies when rank is presented with the ceremony.

J. Pickard

Purple Belt
Jun 8, 2020
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If you are running an event designed for learning and training then nobody should really care. Just have people line up and let them decide where they should go. I've run a few joint organization and joint style gatherings before and I always just say "lets make a few lines and get started." and let everyone decide where they should stand. what I have found is if allowed to choose most high level black belts will want to stand somewhere in the middle, likely because then the lower ranks who made need extra help are close by for them to help and the higher ranking students are close to whoever is in the front instructing so they can get the best view and not miss anything. If anybody has such an ego that they get upset for not standing ahead of someone else then they should reevaluate why they train.


Senior Master
Sep 25, 2006
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Stevenage, Herts, UK
In my experience internationally there's a lot of "what Dan are you" being asked or belts being looked at for stripes, then rearranging. It doesn't cover the case where someone retired and has been surpassed, but I guess if they're actively back for a session, then they come back at the rank they are. You may show deference to them, but to the rest of the room they're likely an inactive WHATEVER Dan.

In Korea, it's very different - no one asks or cares about age. Whoever feels less senior invites the more senior appearing person to stand in a more senior position - or it's simply not that important.

I found it weird on the first master course I attended at Kukkiwon that everyone just lined up, and any of the new 3rd Class candidates who asked about rank were just told to "line up anywhere" by the 2nd and 1st Class candidates. Then the Kukkiwon rearranged us by "attendee number" with no consideration for any rank held, just for ease of attendance taking (shout the number down the front and look down each person for a hand raise and "yes sir!").