As you learn Taekwondo, suddenly the instructor will announce a grading. If the thought of examinations throws you into a panic, this may cause a degree of anxiety. Well, help is at hand. Here are some tips and the patterns that you were told you will need to know and have since forgotten.

So why do the grading? Well there is a real sense of achievement, you get to wear one of those coloured belts and a nice certificate. Honest they are not that bad, as long as you have plenty of pencils and new batteries for your calculator.

I can't say how your grading will be run, but this is how the ones I have attended have been. The main thing to remember is that your instructor would not put you in for a grading if you were not ready; unlike school exams, all those in for the grading are expected to pass. You might find that you get a little nervous, this is fine as a bit of adrenaline will sharp up your performance. Nothing in the grading should be new to you, and it is best to stick with how you usually undertake techniques and not try new combination etc. One of the main requirement to progress is how much Taekwondo you have studied, around three months for the first grades.

Like the Scouts, be prepared. Put that extra practice into the pattern, and if possible spend the few weeks before getting up to the best fitness you can. Athletes plan their season so that they are at their best for the competitions that really want to do well in. So get down the gym and work out on running and stretching. Always arrive early for the class; it is usual for another instructor to attend the grading and you will want to show good manners and respect.

The first part of the lesson is a particularly high intensity lesson and warm. Be prepared to give it all, energy and enthusiasm are a real ingredient here. Lots of nice shouting (Ki-up).

Then the grading will start. Often the whole class will start with basic technique like punching. Then there will be a bit of one to one work; for example one person does a punch, then the other, then a punch from the first person.

This is followed by a series of moves and techniques. Typically one of the instructors will demonstrate the move, for example lower block followed by front kick, and you will have to do this (eight times or so). There maybe some punching and kicking of pads.

Then there will be the pattern. One of the most difficult elements is to concentrate on your pattern and not get distracted by others. If you do, stop, and restart again, the instructor knows how easy it is to get confused in the test.

Finally, you may be called to the examiner's table and asked some questions on Taekwondo (the principals: Self control, Courtesy, Perseverance, Integrity, and Indomitable spirit) and know some Korean language.

Then those successful will be given their certificates and maybe a debrief on their performance with suggestions on where to concentrate on for the next time.


White Belt (10th kup)

Signifies innocence, as that of a new student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwondo. After doing around 10 weeks of Taekwondo, the instructor may give you a certificate to signify reaching this stage. The instructor may get you to demonstrate some basic stances, punches, and blocks. You'll also get nagged about buying an uniform (be warned though these are white, and this this mean washing them by themselves otherwise soon or later someone will try and wash them with red knickers, with predictable results).

Yellow Tags (9th kup)

Interim stage between white belt and yellow belt.

For this you should be able to do straight punches, upper block, out to in middle block, in to out middle block, and lower block.

The stances you should able to do are: walking stance, forward stance, and horse riding stance.

Front kick and turning (roundhouse) kicks. Both with left and right.

Also the Kibon Il pattern.


Sorry it's a long time since did the 8th and 7th Grading tests, but I am working on it - preferably before I actually retire.

Yellow Belt (8th kup)

Green Tags (7th kup)

Green Belt (6th kup)

Fairly straightforward (and they didn't check my Korean counting which is always a bonus)

Five minutes or so free sparring.

Pattern 3, Pattern 2, and Pattern 1.

Some board breaking. First with a chop, then with a front thrust kick (same a front kick but the contact is with the heel of the foot)