How Often Can You Grade in Taekwondo?


grade in Taekwondo lg

Everyone loves to measure their progress. And for younger Taekwondo students especially, that new belt can be quite motivating. But how often can you grade in Taekwondo?

As a general rule, students can grade in Taekwondo every 3 months, provided that they train at least 2 or 3 days per week. If they train less than that, they can expect to get graded in Taekwondo every 6 months. Once they are a black belt, students grade no more than once every 2 years.

There are many factors that influence how long it takes to get graded in Taekwondo, so keep reading to learn how you can get graded quicker and pass all your gradings.

Let’s dive in!

What is the highest grade in Taekwondo?

The highest grade in Taekwondo is a 10th degree black belt, which is a title reserved for a Taekwondo practitioner that has helped contribute to the development of the martial art. Reaching this level takes decades of training, and you have to be at least 53 years old to achieve it.

A 10th degree Taekwondo black belt must have held their black belt for at least 35 years and have been training and teaching throughout that time period.

This just shows that if you are a Taekwondo student – whether a black belt or a white belt, your focus should be on self-enrichment, and improving yourself physically and mentally through your martial arts journey.

Belts are just a piece of cotton around your waist. All Taekwondo students should seek the intrinsic rewards of training, such as improved fitness, confidence, and the ability to defend yourself.

Focusing on the next belt is counter-productive, and instead, you should see martial arts as a never-ending journey of progression and learning.

It is estimated that there are less than 300 10th degree Taekwondo black belts in the world! Most of us will never achieve that rank, as we will quit, get injured, or simply get old. If you want to be a pioneer of a sport, you have to be fully immersed in it.

Most Taekwondo practitioners won’t be a pioneer of the sport, and even if you train for 60 years, you will remain a 9th degree black belt.

Learn as much as you can about Taekwondo, from techniques to training methods, to diet, nutrition, and rest. To reach the lofty achievements of Taekwondo practitioners of the past will require us to develop a love for the sport and for the philosophy of Taekwondo to be our way of life.

How fast can you get a black belt in Taekwondo?

It is possible to get your Taekwondo black belt in 2-3 years of training. The speed you get your black belt depends on how often you train, your fitness levels, and your natural talent. It also depends on whether your school pushes you as a martial artist or just dishes out belts.

If you are in your 20s, have played sports before, are healthy and athletic, and train Taekwondo more than 4 days a week, you could be a good black belt in just 3 years.

But if you’re a boomer like me, then there’s no way that will happen! It would take more like 6 years to get a Taekwondo black belt. It’s important to train at a school where you are challenged.

The reality is that most Taekwondo schools that give a black belt in 2-3 years are just belt factories. They take students, teach them some stuff, give them really easy gradings, and then give them their belts. This is pointless if you want to master Taekwondo.

If you just want a black belt, go on eBay!

Unless you are training 5-6 days a week, you should not get your Taekwondo black belt in less than 5-6 years. Think about it – do you want to be a true martial artist that can fight or just someone that can say they are a black belt?

BJJ black belts train for over 10 years and rack up over 2,000 hours of training before they get their black belt! The average BJJ blue belt could beat someone who got their Taekwondo black belt in 2 years.

You should train at a Taekwondo school where the instructor pushes you as an individual.

Train with someone who will encourage you to compete, will remind you to practice in your free time, and a coach that is not afraid of telling you where you need to improve.

Can you skip belts in Taekwondo?

You cannot skip belts in Taekwondo, as each belt in the martial art represents a significant level of progress. Skipping belts in Taekwondo would mean you are skipping techniques and training less than you would have if you didn’t skip.

I’ll reiterate that belts don’t matter in martial arts – it’s all about personal development and being a lifelong student.

There are 10 belts in ATA (American Taekwondo Association):

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Camouflage
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Green
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black

There are then the 10 degrees of black belt, as we already mentioned.

In ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) Taekwondo, there are only 6 colored belts. They are white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black.

To learn what it takes to progress through each and every one of these ranks and how long you have to train to advance up the degrees of black belt, check out this recent article.

At each belt level, you will have to perform an array of techniques at your grading. If you skip belts, you won’t have mastered all the techniques of Taekwondo. The best way to learn Taekwondo techniques is to practice forms.

Forms in Taekwondo are like Katas in Karate. They are sequences of moves that you repeat again and again to get them into your muscle memory. People think forms are useless, but they are actually an integral part of your Taekwondo development.

Without forms, you won’t be a good Taekwondo practitioner. 

To learn more about Taekwondo forms and why they are incredibly important, check out this recent article on my site. I get into exactly how many forms there are and how long it takes to perfect them.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can you fail a Taekwondo grading?

It is possible to fail a Taekwondo grading. Reasons for failing a Taekwondo grading include forgetting your forms, performing techniques wrong, not understanding the theory of your Taekwondo syllabus, and performing poorly in sparring.

Some Taekwondo schools are super strict and will even mark you down for not having a spotless uniform free from creases!

But don’t worry, if you fail, you get another chance to grade again in the near future. It’s not like you get kicked out of the gym or anything.

Learning to deal with failure is an important part of life.

To ensure you don’t fail a Taekwondo grading, make sure you attend training at least 3 times per week, practice your forms on a daily basis, and do some sparring.

Sparring is where you test your skills against an opponent that is resisting and reacting to what you do.

If you want to learn more about Taekwondo sparring, including how hard you should hit, the rules, and training tips, check out this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is the order of belts in Taekwondo?

There are two main types of taekwondo – ATA and ITF Taekwondo. ATA stands for the American taekwondo association, and ITF stands for the international taekwondo federation. The belt order of the two organizations are as follows:

  • ATA Taekwondo belt order: white, yellow, orange, camouflage, green, purple, blue, green, brown, red, and black
  • ITF belt order: white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black

To learn more about the belt order in Taekwondo and what you have to learn to progress from one belt to the next, check out this recent article on my site.

First ITF Taekwondo Grading (Promotion to 9th Kup) Requirements

Conclusion

You can grade every 3 months in Taekwondo. However, if you train less than 2 days a week, you will grade once every 6 months. In a Taekwondo grading, you will be assessed on your technique, movement, knowledge, presentation, and sparring.

If you fail a taekwondo grading, you will get a chance to grade the next time there is a test. There is no penalty for failing a Taekwondo grading, so don’t be scared!

You can’t skip belts in Taekwondo, as this would lead to you not mastering all the techniques at each belt rank.

The highest belt in Taekwondo is a 10th-degree black belt, which is reserved for the sport’s pioneers. For those who don’t contribute significantly to the growth of Taekwondo, the highest grade is a 9th-degree black belt.

And finally, don’t do Taekwondo for the belts.

Do it for the tremendous benefits it brings, such as improved fitness, the amazing friends you will make, and the ability to defend yourself. The best black belts are those that have the mindset of a lifelong student.


Photo which requires attribution:

SKIES Taekwondo belt testing-June 6, 2016 by Aberdeen Proving Ground is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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