Taekwon-do practitioners often ask the instructors many questions about the period between exams /tests/, the number of grades /gups/ that can be reached and how much time they need to obtain first degree black belt. Before giving a concrete answer to these questions must be considered and analyzed the available theoretical information.

In „Taekwon-Do” encyclopedia on page 93 of Volume I at figure 3 are given requirements for a period of time and training hours required for beginners to obtain first degree black belt in Taekwon-do.

There are three training periods Mt in month with intensity of training hw in hours per week:

  • 30 month training at 4.5 hours workouts per week, a total of 1248 hours or Mt = 30, hw = 4.5
  • 18 month training at 9 hours workouts per week, 585 hours or Mt = 18, hw = 9
  • 12 month training at 24 hours workouts per week, a total of 702 hours or Mt = 12, hw = 24


Figure 1

The data from encyclopedia can be calculated with simple equation Mt = 57/sqrt (hw) at figure 1. The accuracy of this formula is low, but after rounding the result get matched with data from the Encyclopedia. Using a conversion formula we get the following results shown in figure 2.

hw Mt=57/sqrt(hw) Mt/rounded/
3 32.9 36
4.5 26.9 30
6 23.3 24
9 19.0 18
24 11.6 12
Figure 2

We can calculate that in the most common training schedule with intensity of 3 hours per week practitioner should reach black belt after 36 months /figure 2/. In this case, duration of training increased by 20% versus reducing the intensity of the training by 50% compared to the 30-month schedule.



So far could make the following conclusions:

  • The total numbers of hours of training during the period is not directly related to the duration of training to black belt.
  • There is a parabolic correlation between the training period in months [Mt] and intensity of training in hours per week [hw].
  • In order to make progress twice faster must train four times more intensively.

In “Taekwon-do” encyclopedia on page 93 of Volume I at figure 3 are given time between gup for periods of training to black belt [Mt]. We can represent the time specified in Mt=30 as percent in figure 4 and figure 5:

Figure 3



Mt=30 Mt=100% ∑ %
9 gup 2 7% 7%
8 gup 2 7% 14%
7 gup 2 7% 21%
6 gup 2 7% 28%
5 gup 3 10% 38%
4 gup 3 10% 48%
3 gup 3 10% 58%
2 gup 4 13% 71%
1 gup 4 13% 84%
I Dan 5 16% 100%

Figure 4



So far could make the following conclusions:

  • The time required to reach grade is different and increases with grade level at figure 5.
  • The half of training period or 48% of the time is at level 4 gup – blue belt. The first half contains six grades, and the second only four.
  • The minimum time to prepare for grade test is 7% of Mt or 2 months at Mt = 30.


Figure 5

To reach black belt timely need to be cover different number of grades at each exam, depending on the duration of training and period between the exams. Optimal distribution of gups covered at each exam in different period between exams and 30 or 36 month training looks like this:


Figure 6                                                                        Figure 7

At figure 6 and figure 7 zeros mean that the practitioner needs to omit the examination because need more time for preparation. Underlined exams are the half of training to black belt.

More often practiced to cover more than one grade at lower gup levels than at high gup levels. The information in the column 6M /figure 6 and figure 7/ is not only theoretical, it is particularly applicable to practitioners demonstrated excellent results in training.

Most national organizations define the limits of examinations /tests/ for grades /gups/. Often all depends on the examiner.

There are three main factors that determine the number of grades covered at exam:

  • Technical level of the practitioner is assessed by the examiner. In case of a high score is possible covering more than one grade.
  • Depending on the time since the last exam, current grade and intensity of training of the practitioner can be determined how many grades can covered.
  • If the practitioner is present unconvincingly then the opinion of the instructor can be crucial.

Would be optimal to combine 3, 4 and 6 month period for the examinations. Then tests of the low grades /for example to 4 gup/ will be held every 3 or 4 months and for the higher levels through 6 months. In this case, will not need omission a test and excellently prepared practitioner can reach more than one grade, which will encourage him and will be a positive motivation for others.

Practitioners now can get a concrete answer to their questions. Instructors can prepare precise training programs in their clubs. Organizations developing Taekwon-do can continue to look for new interpretation of the ideas left by Gen. Choi.

Boris Atanasov

Original article in Bulgarian published in 2010

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