Data from Bulgarian Taekwon-do federation /BTF ITF/ official register showed over 500 black belts with rank from I Dan to VI Dan for period from 1989 to 2009 on figure 1.
Makes an impression the general trend of increase and decrease, also minimum and maximum, which have their reasonable explanations:
- In 1989 all starts with the “wind of change” and the fall of the Berlin Wall. In Bulgaria fell ban on martial arts practicing and followed a rapid increase in Taekwon-do popularity.
- In 1992 is the peak of Taekwon-do in Bulgaria. Growth was 26.7 times compared with 1989.
- Followed a downward trend until 2001 due to reduced interest in Taekwon-do and BTF ITF restrictive policy to advance in rank.
- 2001 is the freezing point – the lowest level since 1989. Drop was 8.3 times compared to 1992.
- In 2002 died the founder of Taekwon-do gen. Choi. BTF ITF support ITF-NK and change its policy, resulting in increases.
- In 2005 a few cubes are separated from BTF ITF. Emerging new national Taekwon-do organizations.
- The increase from 2001 to 2007 was 3.4 times. However the result in 2007 was 2.4 times lower than in 1992.
- In 2008 competition between national Taekwon-do organizations is cruel and BTF ITF has a “weak” year.
The data shown are only for BTF ITF. Since 2000 several other groups and organizations start to develop Taekwon-do in Bulgaria, they also perform exams for black belts. Data for these black belts are unofficial and their total with the official data is shown in Figure 2. Groups and organizations are:
- Euroatlas.org – group established in 2000 works with ITU, BAT and BUTF.org
- Bagatur – group established in 2003 works with GM Choi Jung Hwa and BFTT.
- BFTT – federation established in 2006 works with ITF-C.
- BАТ– association established in 2006 works with ITF-V and AETF.
- BUTF.org – federation established in 2009 works with GM Lim and ATKD.eu
At figure 3 is shown “Development of I Dan” – percent of I Dan holders,who are frozen or successfully reach higher degree, became instructors and start their own clubs.
Development of I Dan means:
- 3 in 4 I Dan holders are frozen at I Dan.
- Only 1 in 4 I Dan reach II Dan.
- Only 1 in 10 I Dan holders reach III Dan.
- Only 1 in 13 I Dan holders became an instructor.
- Only 1 in 15 I Dan holders have own TKD club.
- Only 1 in 20 I Dan holders reach IV Dan.
- Only 1 in 67 I Dan holders reach V Dan.
- Only 1 in 167 I Dan holders reach VI Dan.
In the structure of the black belts of Figure 4 makes impression the prevailing share of black belts I Dan about 71% and the small share of senior black belts IV Dan – VI Dan only 5% , this is due to:
- „Wrong“ motivation – 76% that received I Dan Taekwon-do practice just to earn a black belt.
- Restrictive policies of the BTF ITF – Figure 1 shows between 1995 and 2002 in Bulgaria are promoted only three senior black belt in 1999 and they are members of the BTF ITF board.
Figure 5 “Testing for Black Belt” shows the ratio of examiners for black belts. Obviously North Korean instructors are “monopolies”.
In 2010 in Bulgaria actively works four national Taekwon-do organizations with 34 clubs and 39 instructors shown on figure 6. There is no correlation between black belts statistics and number of national Taekwon-do organizations, but they are proportional to the number of “unhappy” instructors disappointed by the policy in Taekwon-do and Bulgarian interpretation of martial arts.
Statistics shows trends which are a serious food for thought for Taekwon-do organizations in Bulgaria. Their conclusions and actions will determine whether Taekwon-do will reach a new freezing point or a new peak.
I hope at least one of those who now have a test for a black belt to become an instructor, because the future of Taekwon-do depends on those who today become black belts!