Assessment The promotion exam is a tool to assist participants in their progress as skilled martial artists. It is not a competition with other people; it is a learning opportunity in which each individual displays their skills and receives feedback towards continual improvement. Sometimes the biggest challenge is just showing up.
Expectations. Lower rank exams emphasize coordinated movements and balance; intermediate rank exams emphasize greater precision of movement; higher rank exams require participants to include the demonstration of adaptability, creativity, and effectiveness in techniques, forms, breaking, sparring, and defense.
The Goal. Our program emphasizes developing and applying confidence and intelligence in the decision-making process. This becomes more challenging under stress. Part of the promotion exam is managing stress and confusion. The individual must filter out the clutter and arrive at a good decision and good actions.
A typical Taekwondo Promotion Exam covers the following five components:
Basic Movements. This includes kicks, strikes, blocks along with other skills such as footwork in various stances (front, back, cat, etc.).
Forms. Demonstrate a sequence of techniques in a pre-arranged order. Each rank is required to do specific forms (i.e., the higher the rank, the more forms each person is required to know).
Breaking. Demonstrate power and focus by using techniques to break boards. Board breaking is a test of focus and concentration. Higher ranks are required to add jumping and spinning breaks.
Sparring. Show skill and understanding of techniques by applying them against an opponent using taekwondo sparring rules.
Self-Defense. Show a few things related to defending yourself against an attack or abuse including using techniques that are "outside the rules".
MSMAP participants that meet the requirements listed below — including training consistently for a minimum of 2.5 months and the approval of the instructional staff — are eligible to apply to take the promotion examination.
Note: Final approval to take the examination remains the discretion of the instructional staff.
Requirements in a non-pandemic era follow. We are adjusting the requirements while we are distancing and masking.
Following are the general descriptions for each of the primary rank groups: beginners, intermediate, and advanced participants.
Beginners. (White & Yellow Belts) Assessment of fundamental skills & technical progress: balance; coordination; show some power and accuracy in kicks and blocks.
Intermediate. (Green & Blue Belts) In addition to Technical progress above, candidates need to show: speed & power; knowledge and application of combinations & footwork in both sparring and basic self-defense.
Advanced. (Red Belts) Must show a variety of skills, combinations, and appropriate application of techniques. There should be a freedom & ease of movement for both offense & defense.
The rank guidelines emphasize a progression of skills that builds upon the skills of the previous rank.
Everyone taking the promotion exam is expected to know the following topics specific to their rank.
TIE YOUR OWN BELT. This is perhaps the easiest requirement. And, yes, the belt must be tied correctly; creative belt knots are not rewarded.
FORMS. Each rank has it’s own form. The higher the rank, the more forms each person needs to know. Use the videos in the next section for help when practicing at home.
RULES & EXPECTATIONS. This may be the hardest part of the whole process: be clean and that includes a clean uniform. And, there's more...
These are short videos (less than 5 minutes each) of the Taegeuk forms. Oral explanations are in Korean but brief text explanations are also on-screen.
These are longer videos from the Kukkiwon, the worldwide Taewkwondo rank authority headquarters. These videos are in English and provide many details about the techniques and keys on how to connect the movements for better form.
Key points to consider when preparing for the promotion exam include the following items:
QUALITIES. MSMAP emphasizes adpatability, creativity, and effectiveness. Be on your toes.
PRECISION. Precision of technique is an essential goal of martial arts training. A central concept of martial arts training is that conflicts can be ended with one technique. Without precision, what is martial art? Flailing and guesswork and fear and ignorance. MSMAP aspires to develop precision of movement and precision of mind.
CONFIDENCE & INTELLIGENCE. Supporting the MSMAP vision statement, the promotion exam is a test of each participant’s ability to apply confidence and intelligence in their decision-making process. In this way, we encourage the development of constructive citizens of our community. For children, this is emphasized through the practice of good manners.
Following are a couple of personal stories about how two people young and old, male and female persevere through their respective challenges to attain their goals. Don’t let others tell you what is not possible, don’t let your own thoughts hold you back from achieving big things.
We’ve all felt too tired, too old, too [ fill in the blank ] when it comes to training and taking a promotion exam. Here is some inspiration from the life of Keiko Fukudo Sensei a 98-year-old 10th degree black belt judo master and overall amazing woman. She battled family and gender discrimination throughout her life even being stuck at 5th degree black belt for 30 years because that was the highest rank allowed for women.
Fukuda Sensei is also “the only living student of judo’s founder, Jigoro Kano, who opened his judo school, the Kodokan, in Tokyo, in 1882. Kano added a women's section to his school about 40 years later and invited Fukuda to train because of her martial arts lineage. She was the granddaughter of a renowned jujitsu master who had taught that Japanese martial art to Kano.”
“I think a lot of why I am 98 has to do with judo,” Fukuda Sensei said. “I have my health, and judo is my connection to less stress and difficulty. As far as I know, no one has lived their life completely for judo as I have.”
Documentary filmmaker Yuriko Gamo Romer will have a film about the life of Fukudo Sensei in 2012. In the meantime, there is a 10-minute video clip available to get a better understanding of the life of this remarkable woman and martial artist. Fukudo Sensei shares the meaning of the brave and bold decision to walk her own path at 7:12.
Read the inspiring story of Dylan Helms and Michael Graef.
At the Missoula Taekwondo Center (Montana), "with padded floor mats and compassionate instruction, [Dylan] escapes the crippling neuromuscular disease that locks his cheerful spirit in a body that unravels a little bit each day." Michael, preparing for his black belt exam, "literally keeps Dylan upright and helps guide the boy's uncooperative body through the specific movements."
"Missoula boy fights rare disease with taekwondo, help from friend"
by Betsy Cohen, The Missoulian
“From afar, the duo move as one - Graef providing the legs and strength, Dylan offering the expressive artistry.”
Go to: Article in Missoulian
NOTE: Master Steve Rosbarsky is a friend that attended the Korea Trip in 2002 with Chuck Buhs.
Please contact us via phone, email, or in person with any questions that you may have.