Cutman asked in SportsMartial Arts · 9 years ago

Why avoid schools that give black belts to children? (TaeKwondo)?

Someone on Yahoo told me to avoid schools that give black belts to children.

I went to a TaeKwondo dojang today and there were kids that had black belts. The instructor told me that it took 2 years to get the black belt. And in order to move on to the next belt you would have to take a test where you show moves that you have memorized. The instructor said that the test is based on traditional taekwondo moves that don't really help with sparring (which he also teaches).

Does this school sound like a joke? ...I know, not enough info right? Well what else should I be looking for?

16 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Traditionally in Japan, the minimum age for black belt was 16 years of age. The reason was simple. A boy was not considered a man until he turned 16. The term Shodan does not mean 1st degree black belt. It means 1st (Sho), Man (Dan). The Japanese felt that one must be mature enough to be a black belt. Children were rarely ever allowed to train until a few years ago.

    For rank promotion the rules were strict for many years traditional Japanese arts used something similar to this as guidelines.

    NOTE: the time in grade is from one rank to the next. It is not counted from how long you have trained, but from one rank to the next. That means that if it takes longer to reach a belt rank you don't get to test for the next rank sooner. Here is the age time requirements as they should be:


    Shodan / 1st dan / 3-5 years (or more) of training / 16

    Nidan / 2nd dan / 2 years / 18

    Sandan / 3rd dan / 3 years / 21

    Yondan / 4th dan / 4 years / 25

    Godan / 5th dan / 5 years / 30

    Ranks above 5th dan are considered honorary ranks in many styles.

    NOTE: in actual practice, I have not seen anyone achieve the rank of 2nd dan (Nidan) (legitimately) that was under the age of 25.

    EDIT: I have never heard anyone give me a good reason for any child ever being awarded a black belt. No matter if it is supposed to be a real black belt, or junior black belt. There was no such thing in the 1960's and into the early 1970's. The McDojo started this practice. Children are not mature enough to learn real marital arts self-defense. It is watered down play time at best.

    The martial arts in the 1960's was a brutal, hard contact, no protective gear, realistic fighting experience. Many adults could not take the abuse. so no one can convince me that if adults run for the door that some child could ever study and earn a black belt in that way....

    The guys that are in favor of children having black belts are either children, or so young that they were not around to see what the martial arts were before commercialism changed them. In the 1960's there were no children black belts. there were no children training in the martial arts in the U.S.A.

    Black Belt Magazine stated that less than 3% of the public was even interested in studying the martial arts at that time. Less than 3% of adults ever reached black belt. Of those few, less than 50% ever reached second degree black belt.

    Today 85% of all martial arts students in the U.S.A. are children. Now you see the problem... If this does not convince those that thing that children should have black belts, then I guess you should continue training in a school that gives them to children.

    EDIT: No reputable martial arts school would tell anyone how long it takes to reach black belt. Any that do have promotion figured out based on time, not knowledge, skill level, or the ability to use what they teach effectively. No instructor knows how long a student will take to reach black belt level. Each person is different. Frankly, many people don't have what it takes to ever be a legitimate black belt.

    For comparison in the 1960's and 1970's most legitimate martial artists that reached black belt had spent 5-7 years of serious training to get there. A few students might do it in 5 years, but that was rare. Many guys I know did not see their black belt until they had studied 10 years or more.

    But I must say something that is generally not understood. Or that is to say has been presented in a totally incorrect way to the public. Black belt is a big achievement from a legitimate school. however, black belt is considered a beginner, not an expert. The Asian attitude is that a student reaching black belt has learned the basics. But, they are not necessarily good at them. It is at black belt that the real learning begins.

    In Japanese all color belts are collectively called Mudansha, and all black belt levels are know as Yudansha. The term Mu-Dan-Sha is meant to mean "nothing". This is because as I said upon reaching black belt, you are only beginning to learn the true art.

    In case you are wondering,... it took me from June of 1967 to May of 1975 (just short of 8 years) to reach my first black belt. Those years included training of no less than 10-12 hours a week. form 1973 on, I trained, taught, and studied under my instructor at least 20 hours a week.


    Source(s): Martial Arts training and Research since 1967. Teaching Martial Arts since 1973.
    • Tildaa6 years agoReport

      Japan?? Tkd is from Korea honey

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  • manthe
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Taekwondo Black Belt Levels

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  • Linda
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I don't go out of my way to disrespect or embarrass anyone who has a black-belt that did not earn it and does not exhibit the proper skills, attitude and level of technique and understanding of their art. They will do that themselves in many cases. It also doesn't matter if they are female or male, child or adult in regards to this. I do think that a school that has a lot of younger black-belts like what you mention is a diploma mill or Mc Dojo if the quality of their skill and understanding of their technique is poor. While I have promoted several children to this rank that was after several years of training and all of them were better than what many adult black belts had ever seen before and would often comment about it. The youngest was eleven and started when he was four going on five. That took a lot of work and effort on their part as well as mine. I can also tell you that I have had several hundred children over the years that never reached brown belt; much less the rank of black belt. So it can be done and I know some other instructors that have also had similar success like I have but it is the exception unless the place has low standards or is just promotion and rank happy. Places like that will produce a lot of black-belts but they are poor at best usually and you can tell the difference when compared to the real thing side by side or given the proper time and opportunity for scrutiny.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I think you have to consider individual schools. When I was in HS I took tae kwon do from a former

    Korean champion and his school gave the 1st black to kids who were highly skilled.

    You had to be 17 to get a 2nd black.

    Since I never made it past blue, I did not care about who got a black.

    I thought it was a great dojang.

    . I think the issue is this- are people guaranteed belts just for testing? Including kids?

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  • 9 years ago

    Well in general, having a black belt should mean you can defend yourself from an attacker. I don't think many attackers (as in muggers and rapists) are going to be intimidated by a child, no matter how many degrees of a black belt he has. Children don't have the motor skills of adults because their bodies aren't fully developed yet. Any dojo that gives black belts to children is likely nothing more than a dojo out for money. All it will do is give the kids egos (I.E., "I'm a black belt, Jimmy! Nobody picks on me!"), and give the instructors money.

    if it were me, I'd stay away.

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  • 9 years ago

    2 years to get a black belt is THE joke. That's worse than having black belts under the age of 16. Any legitimate dojang should take between 4 - 5 years to get a black belt.

    I don't believe in black belts under 16 but I do believe in some type of recognition, usually a skunk belt to show the desire and perseverence for doing something that 97 out of 100 people don't do, stick with it.

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  • 9 years ago

    Okay, so, as a taekwondoist with a bit of a traditionalist streak, I have my own opinions of the whole business of belt promotions. With regard to children with black belts, there is a twofold issue. On the one hand, chodan is meant to represent competence in the basic structure of the art, not necessarily ready to take on students of their own, but possessing enough skill and maturity to learn how to teach the art to others; a child may have the skill, but almost never will children have the maturity to merit dan ranking. In light of this, The Kukkiwon (The organization which promulgates the standards for taekwondo governed by the WTF) created a workaround by creating 'pum' ranking. Students below the age of 16 cannot be promoted to dan ranks, however a younger student who has completed the requirements for dan rank can be given a pum rank, which is represented by a belt half red and half black. Many dojangs have modified this practice and have their pum students wear black belts, in order to represent their rank in a way meaningful to the general public. I do not support this practice, however, I would not make it the deciding factor in my decision whether or not to train in a given dojang.

    As for the time frame, was that a guarantee or a minimum? No teacher should guarantee you a belt within a specific amount of time. IIRC, according to the Kukkiwon standards, it is theoretically possible for a student to earn chodan in as few as 24 months (10-3 gup require two months each for promotion to the next rank, 2 & 1 gup require four), however that is the bear minimum, and assumes that the student learns and retains everything, and requires little to no review of old material before the test for chodan.

    With regard to the test materials, it is not unreasonable for tests below dan to lack sparring components, you really ought to be learning a little bit of sparring, inasmuch as it relates to your technique.

    So, in answer to your question: No, it does not sound like a joke. It DOES sound a little strange, but I can't really tell without seeing the dojang for myself, as well as how it is run.

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  • 9 years ago

    Wow, that sounds awful. First of all, how much can you learn, like really learn and understand in 2 years? Two, for a kid to have a black belt, they need to be able to handle themselves like black belts in an adult class. Do they take adult classes? Probably not.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I personally don't see anything wrong with giving a kid a black belt if he or she actually deserves it. I knew a 15 year old kid who competed in the X games and held his own against the best adults in the world in his sport, so kids clearly are capable of amazing things. But 2 years is too fast for anyone to get a black belt, even in taekwondo! And sparring is a major part of taekwondo. While for the first few belt tests you may not do any sparring, sparring should be a major component of higher level belt tests. Sounds like a McDojang to me.

    Oh, and to several of the above answers, here'e something to think about. Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics are routinely under the age of 18 (females, that is). These are the best athletes in the world in their sport! Many 18 and 19 year olds have played in the NBA. Boxers often turn pro at age 18. MMA fighter Chris Horodeki turned pro at age 17 and won his first 12 fights! While these are exceptional cases, you have to admit that there is no magical age necessary to become an expert in a sport or physical activity.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Like anything in life, it takes age and time to get certain things. You get your license at 16. You become independent at 18. You can drink at 21. You can rent a car at 26. Getting a black belt isn't any different. Kids don't have the motor functions nor the size or strength to perform what a black belt can.

    TKD schools feed off of peoples desires for belts and rank, by offering them so easily, for money. Any school worth its weight doesn't offer a black belt to anyone below the age of 18, and not till after they've been training for 6-10 years. So essentially if you come across a school with a black belt under the age of 24, it is most likely unfounded and illegitimate.

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