What should a TKD Black Belt know? What should a TKD Black Belt learn?

gpseymour

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That's an interesting take.
It's a philosophy I followed as a student (I'd hang out a while after getting all the material, then test, rather than testing as soon as possible), and fits what I think testing "should" be...which is purely my opinion, of course.
 

gpseymour

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One thing we do at my school now, is we have different levels of expectations based on the belt level. A white belt, we expect to know a punch means you shove your fist out, whereas a green belt should be learning to pivot the foot and hip, and a red belt should have a complete understanding of the punch. We introduce spinning hook kick at green belt, and as long as they do a pirouette we're happy (I'm happy I just spelled it right). At blue belt it should resemble a kick, and at red belt it should be a raw technique to the face, and at black belt it should be a crisp motion.

The first belts you learn something it's usually more of a vocabulary test than anything else.
That progression works well. Essentially, you've introduced (and started testing) early. The real test comes later, as you expect each level to show more development of the technique. That's in line with what I was saying - I just might not test it formally the first time (though I do have some things I test early that way). Mainly, I don't like to see things just prepared for a test. I like to see the emphasis on the class and progression, and the test is just verification.
 

gpseymour

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@wab25 My thought is to try and combine the two. Taekwondo is very rank-based in its progression. In fact, the mandated requirements for black belt are 8 specific forms, everything else is up to the individual school's owner (to my knowledge, anyway).

Ideally, I want to do something in between, where some stuff is rank-specific, and other stuff is skill-based, or at least has a transition from rank-based to skill based. For example:
  • Blue belt learns a new technique. This technique follows the rank-based model, where as long as the blue belt flaps their arms the right way, they get the red belt.
  • Red belt gains a better understanding of the technique, and must be able to properly apply the technique in a controlled setting. (i.e. against passive resistance)
  • Black belt gains even more understanding, and must be able to apply the technique in a different setting (i.e. a different setup, against active resistance, or in sparring)
Trying to figure out how to balance those out is a good time waster for me whenever I do have spare time. At this point, it's purely academic/theoretical for me, because nobody is actually learning my "curriculum".
One thing I've done in my testing is add sparring at every level. The sparring requirements progress, which lets me see the progression of their skills. This goes along with the arm-flapping requirements (thanks @wab25 - I'll be using that for a long time!), which still exist, even with my approach. I really assess 3 things:
  1. Technical progress (this is partly correct arm-flapping, partly actual understanding of the principles)
  2. Fighting/defensive progress (this is mainly in the sparring and in simulation defense lines)
  3. Personal progress (everyone has to progress every rank, even if they were good enough 2 ranks ago to pass this one)
A strength in one area can offset a weakness in another. "Just good enough" in all 3, isn't quite good enough. And yeah, that's very subjective.
 
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One thing I've done in my testing is add sparring at every level. The sparring requirements progress, which lets me see the progression of their skills. This goes along with the arm-flapping requirements (thanks @wab25 - I'll be using that for a long time!), which still exist, even with my approach. I really assess 3 things:
  1. Technical progress (this is partly correct arm-flapping, partly actual understanding of the principles)
  2. Fighting/defensive progress (this is mainly in the sparring and in simulation defense lines)
  3. Personal progress (everyone has to progress every rank, even if they were good enough 2 ranks ago to pass this one)
A strength in one area can offset a weakness in another. "Just good enough" in all 3, isn't quite good enough. And yeah, that's very subjective.

How do you handle the sparring requirements?
 

Buka

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In my opinion....


What should a TKD Black Belt know?


How to fight and how to kick.

What should a TKD Black Belt learn?

Everything else that they possibly can.

 

paitingman

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Belts should reflect a level of competency.
If you get bogged down on curriculum-based belt progressions, students progress but get caught just learning new material (new forms, new techniques, new step sparring, whatever you can come up with).
White belts should learn the basic stances and kicks, and once they have shown proficiency, you give them a yellow belt and they started doing the same kicks as everyone else.
All train roundhouse and sidekick together, and all practice 360 roundhouse and back kick together. Everybody spars together.
By the time you are brown belt or black belt, you have a great 360 or a great back kick. And you are comfortable sparring.

Every rank you learn a new form, new step sparring, but the punching/kicking and sparring training are the same as everyone else.
While lower ranks are still training their kicks, upper ranks can delve into details of kicking and sparring or work on wrist lock and throwing techniques (other elements to fighting).

Black belts should be able to show their knowledge of the material (forms, step sparring, etc.) and really just show a level of proficiency that reflects how they have been training these same kicks for the number of years they've put in.
Your sparring should look like you've been sparring for years. lol.
That's really all for us.
 
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Belts should reflect a level of competency.
If you get bogged down on curriculum-based belt progressions, students progress but get caught just learning new material (new forms, new techniques, new step sparring, whatever you can come up with).
White belts should learn the basic stances and kicks, and once they have shown proficiency, you give them a yellow belt and they started doing the same kicks as everyone else.
All train roundhouse and sidekick together, and all practice 360 roundhouse and back kick together. Everybody spars together.
By the time you are brown belt or black belt, you have a great 360 or a great back kick. And you are comfortable sparring.

Every rank you learn a new form, new step sparring, but the punching/kicking and sparring training are the same as everyone else.
While lower ranks are still training their kicks, upper ranks can delve into details of kicking and sparring or work on wrist lock and throwing techniques (other elements to fighting).

Black belts should be able to show their knowledge of the material (forms, step sparring, etc.) and really just show a level of proficiency that reflects how they have been training these same kicks for the number of years they've put in.
Your sparring should look like you've been sparring for years. lol.
That's really all for us.

This can depend on the size of your school. My old school, this is how we did things, because we had 1 class with about 20 people in it. The school I'm at right now has somewhere in the range of 150-200 students, split into 10 different classes based on age and rank. So our blue belts are only training with blue belts, our red belts only with red belts.
 

gpseymour

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How do you handle the sparring requirements?
At a few weeks in (supposed to be 5-10 weeks in, but varies by need), there's a test I call "foundation". There's no belt for this test, I just won't progress to the formal NGA curriculum until they pass it. Part of this test is two 30-second rounds of "defensive sparring". That means no offense, just controlling space and angle by blocks, jamming, and footwork - the other person is in constant "attack" mode, but very light and technical.

For yellow, it's the other side of the same test. This should be about a year in, so they have plenty of time to get there. It's a test for being able to maintain pressure with reasonable attacks (rather than flailing aimlessly) and with lots of control.

From there, each rank (blue, green, purple, and brown) adds a level of difficulty. First it's full sparring, then we add grappling, then ground rounds. For black - if I ever get anyone there - it's 10 1-minute rounds of moderate MMA-style sparring (it can go to the ground).
 

gpseymour

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This can depend on the size of your school. My old school, this is how we did things, because we had 1 class with about 20 people in it. The school I'm at right now has somewhere in the range of 150-200 students, split into 10 different classes based on age and rank. So our blue belts are only training with blue belts, our red belts only with red belts.
I'm not a fan of upper ranks never training with lower ranks (it robs the lower ranks of the experience), but it's good for upper ranks to have time together. That can be hard to do in smaller schools, and larger schools it gets hard to manage mixed classes.
 
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I'm not a fan of upper ranks never training with lower ranks (it robs the lower ranks of the experience), but it's good for upper ranks to have time together. That can be hard to do in smaller schools, and larger schools it gets hard to manage mixed classes.

The "Junior Black Belts" (Red 2-stripe, the belt right before black belts) and black belts assist with the classes, so there is a little bit of that going on. And we do have make-up classes on the weekends which are a catch-all. But we have way too many people to try and just randomly sort them into different classes.

The other side is that we start kids as young as 4. Where most classes are by "kid" and "teen + adult", the white and yellow belts are further broken up into "little kid" and "big kid". Those 4 & 5 year olds are often intimidated by the 10 & 12 year olds in the big kids class, or intimidated by all the higher belts when they first start. The same thing happens when they move into purple belt, which is now 4-12 years old, and the 4 & 5 year olds are scared to join the class with the bigger kids. (At that point, they just have to get over it).
 

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...snip...

What do you think? What are the things a black belt should know, and what are the things you would expect them to learn?
To me, a Black Belt indicates that the individual has learned the curriculum of the style and has performed it in a testing environment before higher ranks.

I also equate earning 1st Degree to graduating from high school. You have learned the basics, now it's time to go to college and do some serious studying.
 
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To me, a Black Belt indicates that the individual has learned the curriculum of the style and has performed it in a testing environment before higher ranks.

I also equate earning 1st Degree to graduating from high school. You have learned the basics, now it's time to go to college and do some serious studying.

Does that mean there's no curriculum past your first dan test?
What do you study when you "go to college"?
 

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The reason I bring up the sparring tactics, is because the rules change at higher belts. In the tournaments I've been to, colored belts up through blue belt (at any age) aren't allowed to kick to the head. Red and brown belts over the age of (it varies between 12-16) can do headshots, and black belts (sometimes all ages, sometimes 10-12+) can do headshots.

So the question is, do you have someone preparing for headshots at green and blue belt, so they'll be ready at red or black? Or do you have them start when it's appropriate in the rules, and just hope they don't do a tournament right after getting that belt and then being unprepared?
Per your original question; a BB should be aware of the rules of sparring at every level if that is a requirement of their school/system. Beyond that, only the rules that apply specifically to them would be relevant. This would be very far down on my list of requirements.
 

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Does that mean there's no curriculum past your first dan test?
What do you study when you "go to college"?

Where my son trains....all the techniques are learned for 1st dan. After first dan it is more about perfecting the use of the techniques and accomplishments in the art (teaching, competing, judging, reffing, years of dedication, etc...)
 
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Per your original question; a BB should be aware of the rules of sparring at every level if that is a requirement of their school/system. Beyond that, only the rules that apply specifically to them would be relevant. This would be very far down on my list of requirements.

You're looking at this one backwards. It's not about knowing the things that came before. It's about whether as a colored belt they should be practicing for their level, or for the changes ahead.
 
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Where my son trains....all the techniques are learned for 1st dan. After first dan it is more about perfecting the use of the techniques and accomplishments in the art (teaching, competing, judging, reffing, years of dedication, etc...)

Are there new footwork and strategies introduced, or is it purely about improving what you already know?
 

CB Jones

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Are there new footwork and strategies introduced, or is it purely about improving what you already know?

Basic footwork and strategy is learned with the techniques leading up to 1st dan. After that the BB continues to figure out their own "individual style" regarding footwork and strategy.

Also, they are encouraged to take techniques and strategies from other schools or styles of karate that will work for them.

The org/lineage consists of 10 or 11 different schools so at the advance levels there are variations in strategies and individual styles.
 
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dvcochran

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You're looking at this one backwards. It's not about knowing the things that came before. It's about whether as a colored belt they should be practicing for their level, or for the changes ahead.
You have to ask that question? If your promotions are so easy someone can be working for the Next level, something is amiss. Most styles have techniques that "run over", a front kick for example; a TKD student will do this kick nearly every class they attend for as long as they practice, regardless of their rank. A person has to actively work on improving the kick for the same length of time. That is a very hard thing for some people to wrap their head around and they get disenfranchised with the practice and may end up quitting. This reality of repetition is one of the hardest things for an instructor to learn how to help students deal with.
 
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