Starting this term, Master Paul McPhail (our Technical Director) and I are trialling a modified system of grades to help children succeed.
Each formal coloured belt grade will have up to three informal grades before the next formal grade.
What are formal grades?
The International Taekwon-Do grading system was designed for soldiers. There are 10 “gup” or grades, before 1st degree black belt:
- White belt (10th gup)
- Yellow stripe (9th gup)
- Yellow belt (8th gup)
- Green stripe (7th gup)
- Green belt (6th gup)
- Blue stripe (5th gup)
- Blue belt (4th gup)
- Red stripe (3rd gup)
- Red belt (2nd gup)
- Black stripe (1st gup)
Only qualified international instructors who have passed our national Examiners’ Course and maintained their Examiner qualification may examine students to these grades. (Master Banicevich is a qualified Master Examiner.)
Gradings are controlled by our national association, International Taekwon-Do, and grading fees are paid to the association. (This, and registration fees, are its primary sources of revenue.) Students pass or fail these gradings according to a national standard.
What are informal grades?
Children (and most adults) don’t progress as quickly as soldiers. Sometimes it can take young children a year and a half – or longer – to reach the national standard required for the next formal grade.
For many years, we’ve had a system in New Zealand to help young children progress to yellow stripe, and then to yellow belt, by introducing informal grades between the formal grades.
These gradings are conducted by the school instructor, and they are not controlled nationally. They are really a way for instructors to encourage children that they are progressing, even if they have not yet reached the level required for the next formal grade.
What is changing?
Two things are changing. First, we are extending the system of informal grades right through to 1st degree black belt. This means that children of green and blue belt, too, can feel they are progressing in the long stretches between formal grades. Over time, we lose many students at these grades, because the long time between gradings gets frustrating and demoralising. The new system aims to fix this.
Secondly, the current stripe colours for “mini-kids” will change. White belts will get a yellow stripe on one side of their belt. Then two stripes, then three stripes. When they are ready, they will do a formal grading to yellow stripe, and get a yellow stripe on the other side of their belts. Then a second on the other side, a third, and a fourth. Then yellow belt.
It will look a bit like this:
- White belt
- White belt 1 (one yellow stripe on one side of the belt)
- White belt 2 (two yellow stripes on one side of the belt)
- White belt 3 (three yellow stripes on one side of the belt)
- Yellow stripe (three yellow stripes on one side, one yellow stripe on the other side)
- Yellow stripe 1 (three yellow stripes on one side, two yellow stripes on the other side)
- Yellow stripe 2 (three yellow stripes on one side, three yellow stripes on the other side)
- Yellow stripe 3 (three yellow stripes on one side, four yellow stripes on the other side)
- Yellow belt
- Yellow belt 1 (one green stripe on one side of the belt)
Does my child have to do all of these grades?
No. Once a child meets the standard of the next formal grade (and meets the other usual requirements), he or she will be invited to grade for the next formal grade.
Will there be a grading fee?
Yes. Like existing mini-kids grades, these grading fees will be $25 during the trial. This may change if the trial succeeds and the system is adopted nationally.
How many sessions will be required to grade?
A child who trains once per week is likely to grade every second term. A child who trains twice per week might grade every term. To achieve this, we’ll trial the number of sessions required as 10 up to blue belt, and 15 from blue belt.
What if my child isn’t ready and has all of the stripes?
In rare instances, a child may take longer to reach the national standard required for the next formal grade. In those cases, we may issue an extra stripe for the same side of the belt.
My child has a white belt with coloured stripes now
If your child is currently first green, first blue, first red or first black, we’ll probably continue with the present grades until they reach yellow stripe.