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Tae Kwon Do Frequently Asked Questions


WHAT IS TAE KWON DO?
Tae Kwon Do is a form of martial art training from Korea that is derived from ancient martial arts that are over 2000 years old. Tae Kwon Do's goal is to help the student grow and develop in the areas of:  courtesy, integrity, self confidence, self control, perseverance, commitment, and unbreakable spirit. Tae Kwon Do is NOT a cult or religious sect nor is Tae Kwon Do, as the movies depict, a violent militant group that teaches students to beat up people. Tae Kwon Do IS a very sensible method of consistent mental and physical training that is a year-round, life-time system of exercise and personal development.  A brief history of Tae Kwon Do is available on this site.

WHAT IS THE BELT FOR?
Belts are goals that are set for students to meet on their road to Tae Kwon Do training and personal improvement. To obtain the first belts, the goals are more easily met and involve more help from the instructor. Techniques are fairly simple early on and increase in difficulty as the students progress. Each student will progress at the speed that is equal to their personal abilities. The North Austin Tae Kwon Do Club Belt System, start with white belt on up to the black belt ranks.

HOW ARE THE BELTS RANKED?
Beginners will earn their first belt early in their Tae Kwon Do training starting with white and moving on to  yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and finally black. Juniors, or students under the age of 16, will earn a Junior Black Belt, or Poom. Adults earn a first degree Black Belt, or 1st Dan. Black Belts are ranked from 1st through 9th degree.  1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree Black Belts are considered journeyman level.  4th - 6th degree Black Belts are considered Master Instructors.  5th Degree Black Belts & 6th Degree Black Belts often hold the title Kwang Jang Nim (Head of a school or an association).  7th - 9th Degree Black Belts are considered Grand Masters.

WHAT DOES CERTIFICATION MEAN?
In North Austin Tae Kwon Do system, colored belt  and Black Belt ranks are certified, or officially recognized, through the North Austin Tae Kwon Do Club and the national martial arts organizations to which we belong such as the Amateur Athletic Union's (AAU) National Tae Kwon Do Program, The National Korean Martial Arts Association, The United States Korean Martial Arts Federation, The United States Taekwondo Won and the United Martial Arts Society. 

CAN SOMEONE COMPETE ON THE STATE, NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL LEVEL?
If someone is interested in a higher level of competition the North Austin Tae Kwon Do Club can prepare a student who has the interest, desire, and ability.  How ever that is not our main goal in training.

WHAT IS A BLACK BELT?
A Junior Black Belt (Poom) or Adult Black Belt (Dan) is a student recognized for their commitment to Tae Kwon Do who has achieved a high level of proficiency and knowledge in the art of kicking and punching. This proficiency includes that a student's conduct outside the dojangis a direct reflection of the art, the instructor and the student themselves.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER REACHING BLACK BELT?
Upon reaching black belt, a student will realize how much more there is to learn and continue their own training, advancement and individual improvement, while they also pass on what they have learned to new students. This is part of the circle of Tae Kwon Do -- passing on all the training once learned by teaching new students who may one day do the same. This keeps the art of Tae Kwon Do alive for many generations and is the principle on which Tae Kwon Do and the Martial Arts have sustained themselves for over 2000 years. The knowledge and art of Tae Kwon Do is a gift that is meant to be shared with others who strive to learn and to better themselves.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE INSTRUCTOR?
The instructor's goals are to build and support the development of confident students. These students are individuals with goals, discipline, and a sense of proper direction in their lives. Students will also have needs and the instructors are there to see that those needs are met by training the students become better human beings. The method of training, in all aspects, is a goal-oriented system which serves as a positive reinforcement to growth as individuals.

WHAT IS BELT TESTING?
When the student has completed the required time and material training requirements a test date be set. As in any educational institution, the instructors know when a student is ready to test to, please trust their judgment. The belt exams are open for family and friends to attend and watch. The student will perform the required material in front of the testing instructor as well as the audience, then finish by breaking the required board or boards, to advance to the next level. Beginner students and children are given the assistance needed to help them fulfill the requirements to earn their belt. This helps build confidence. Advanced students are required to complete the exam with little or no assistance. Junior and adult black belt tests must be passed with no assistance.

CAN A STUDENT FAIL?
No. If a student continues to try, preservers, then she/he will never fail. She/he may not complete all the requirements at the time of their test, but re-tests are always offered on material missed for colored belts. Tae Kwon Do is not about failing, but about succeeding. Instructors will see that each student can succeed no matter what it takes. IN the dojang, four letter words like "can't" and "don't" are replaced with "can", "do" and "try". There is no giving up so there is no failing.

WHAT DO THE STUDENTS RECEIVE WITH TESTING
Following tests are awarded a new belt and advanced certification. These certificates should be kept in one place for verification at black belt time. The certificates measure 8-1/2" by 11" and are suitable for framing. A good way to keep certificates together is to put each new certificate in the front of the frame while keeping the previous certificates in back.

WHY LEARN KOREAN TERMINOLOGY?
Korean is the universal language of Tae Kwon Do. It is also fun for the students to learn words in another language. It prepares students for competition, as all competition and commands in the sport arena are conducted and given in Korean. Students could go to any Tae Kwon Do training center in the world and understand the training. Learning and using Korean is also very crucial to know in the event that other Masters and Grand Masters should make a visit to our gym. Instructors from Korea, naturally, conduct their classes, training, and commands in Korean and are always impressed when American students understand them.

WHY ARE THE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO BOW?
Bowing is a tradition in Korea used when entering or leaving the gym. It is also used when asking a question of an instructor or entering the dojang in which higher ranks and black belts are present. It is a sign of respect for their for their experience, knowledge and commitment to Tae Kwon Do. It is also out of respect for the gym, the ranks, and the instructors. It is similar to an American handshake. When you meet someone it is proper etiquette to shake their hand. In Korea, and especially Tae Kwon Do, it is proper to greet people in this way each time they meet. This method of recognizing authority, experience, and greater knowledge helps to strengthen a student's respect for authority in and out of the dojang whether it is parents, teachers, police, adults or other persons of stature. It also fosters a sense of respect for the training, the goals, and the person they aspire to become.

ARE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO COMPETE IN TOURNAMENTS?
It is not required, but strongly recommended that students participate in a tournament or two during their training.

WHAT CAN STUDENTS DO TO GET THE MOST OUT OF TAE KWON DO?
The most important thing students, as well as parents, can do to ensure the best possible training available is to trust the instructors with the training for you and/or your child. The instructors work very hard to develop the best training programs they can with every step taken, every method used for a reason. Your confidence and support guarantees that you will get the most from your Tae Kwon Do training.

WHY IS TAE KWON DO SO POPULAR?
Tae Kwon Do's popularity comes mainly from the fact that it is not a passing fad. Tae Kwon Do has withstood the tests of time. Tae Kwon Do is much more than self-defense skills training. Tae Kwon Do is a lifestyle of physical and mental training and challenges that encourage an individual to strive to do more and be more. The training is proven to develop an individual's complete being, mental and physical, joined by an indomitable spirit.