Each of these sections will outline ways to improve your experience with us and help you maximize your training.
White/White Stripe White Belt – Signifies innocence and purity. The novice is eager to take in knowledge while viewing Taekwondo through the eyes of a newcomer.
“A Black Belt is a White Belt that never gave up!”
Practicing at Home – just like homework or any other endeavor, the more you put in, the more you get out. Practicing at home is something that should be fun and beneficial. Kids, make sure you ask your parents if it is ok for you to practice at home and also where and when. Some great things to do while training at home are your exercises/stretches, hand techniques, forms, kicks (if ample space) or utilize a piece of training equipment like a hand target or punching bag.
Sparring – sparring is one of the most popular and exciting parts of Taekwondo training. Sparring is not “fighting” but rather a way for students to practice their skills in a controlled and respectful manner. It is very normal for a student to be apprehensive about “mixing it up” with someone else and we try to do our best to pair up students based on their mental outlook/aggressiveness. Sparring not only improves the student’s self defense skills but also helps builds confidence. Please see the framed outline in the lobby for a more detailed description of sparring and the rules.
Tying your Belt - learning to tie your belt properly is an important step at this point in your training. Your belt is a symbol of your hard work and should be treated with respect. There are directions on the website to help you learn how to properly tie it (click on the dress for success button), or you can just ask your instructor for help. We would like students (kids) to be able to tie their own belt before reaching Gold Belt. Do your best to have the belt ends even and give it a good snap for a tight knot that is less likely to come undone during training.
Gold/Gold Stripe Gold Belt – Denotes the sunrise and the dawning of knowledge. Profound changes begin to take place in the individual both physically and spiritually. Attainment of this rank brings a true sense of accomplishment.
“A body without physical strength is weak as is a mind without control and good judgment.”
Congratulations on earning your Gold belt! By now I am sure that you are starting to really see some of the benefits of Taekwondo training, and we hope that you will continue to find new benefits and victories. Here are some things we would like to highlight for your training as a gold belt and a gold stripe.
Board Breaking – just like sparring, this is one of the most popular and exciting parts of a student’s training, but some students are apprehensive about trying it for the first time. Starting at the gold belt level, students will break boards as part of their advancement using specific techniques at each belt level. The first two techniques (palm strike and skip side kick) are very easy and powerful while minimizing the “sting” involved in striking the board. Board sizes are based on age and the number of boards for a technique is based on strength. Board breaking can be practiced at any time as it is not part of the regular class plan. Even spending some time hitting a target will help with the accuracy and power required to break boards. To get started, just pick up some boards from the front desk, and after class sit down along the side with other students who are doing tip checks to practice breaking with an instructor. One last note, the first time a student tries a break (at any belt) they will not earn a full tip, they need to do breaks at least twice for a tip.
Sparring with a Chest Guard – at this point in your training you have probably started to develop some real “power” in your kicks. Therefore it is in everyone’s best interest to wear a chest guard during sparring. A chest guard helps alleviate a lot of the impact from the body shots and allows students to train with less fear of injury to themselves. It also allows students to kick with more power during sparring which will help them develop their sparring and self defense skills.
Joining the Intermediate Level Class – at the gold stripe level, students are allowed to join the intermediate level class. Some students may be apprehensive about this change because they go from being the highest belt student in the class to the lowest belt, they do not know all of the other students in the class and the curriculum demands are getting harder. Do not worry, you will get used to this new class very quickly and will improve at an even greater pace because everyone around you is better than those in the beginner class.
Physical Fitness – at the gold stripe level, a new tip is added for physical fitness. This tip is to ensure that students are performing their stretches and exercises correctly and at an appropriate level. It should not be very challenging if the student has been working hard in class up to this point. However, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and if this is not your “strong” area then some extra attention should be given. Exact requirements are posted on our website and in the dojang.
Challenges at Gold and Gold Stripe – the gold belt form (Taeguk Il Jang) and the gold stripe requirement kicks are often the most challenging part of the curriculum and should be practiced and given more attention than other sections. For younger students it is usually recommended that they go for these tips last so that they have more time to gain proficiency. The form DVD can come in handy in your training to help practice the forms at home.
Black Belt Club – if you are serious about your Taekwondo training, and would like to train at the highest level, then you should consider joining. You do not need to be a Black Belt to be a part of Black Belt Club, you just need to have the desire to be one some day. It allows you to train more times per week plus a bonus upgrade class (Black Belt Training) at no extra charge.
Green/Green Stripe Green Belt – Symbolizes the spring, the beginnings of growth as in the growth of a young plant with leaves reaching to the sky. Advanced techniques are introduced and the student must exhibit caution.
“Immerse yourself fully into your training physically and mentally to become your best”
Congratulations on earning your Green Belt! You have probably noticed that the demands in your training have increased. This is where your commitment to Black Belt becomes imperative. If you are to reach a long term goal you must focus more than ever on the short term goals (tips), and intermediate goals (belts) to stay the path. Here are some things we would like to highlight for your training as a green belt and a green stripe.
Hook Kicks – at the green belt level you start learning how to throw hook kicks. Hook kick is the most advanced of the “basic” kicks and you should do your best to learn this kick well as you will have a variation of the hook kick at four more belt levels.
Sparring with a helmet – At green belt level, students should begin sparring with a helmet. Light contact kicking is allowed to the head level, no hand strikes (see sparring outline in lobby for more details). Students should not be afraid of adding head contact as it is generally difficult at this level to make contact with a head shot. Also, there is not as much power by the time the leg reaches the head height, and the combination of the leg pads plus the helmet provides ample protection. Some recommended kicks to try; Crescent Kicks (Out to In or In to Out), Ax Kick, Roundhouse Kick.
Good Stances and Basics – most if not all of the basic requirements from earlier belts should be performed cleanly and with better technique. Ample time should be spent reviewing lower belt techniques in order to build a foundation for more advanced techniques. The ball of the foot should now be used while doing front snap kicks and the knuckles should be the point of impact while punching during form practice. Correct foot positioning (using the instep or heel) should be paid close attention while practicing kicks.
Extra Training – in order to really progress as a martial artist, you should be training at least 3 times per week. At this point you should be done “trying out” Taekwondo and make the decision to either commit to Black Belt or move on to something else. Membership in the Black Belt Club is not mandatory or necessary but is something you should highly consider if you are not already a member.
Blue/Blue Stripe Blue Belt – Typifies the color of the sky and the youthful plant reaching up to it. Demonstrates ambition and a deep desire for complexity in technique. Humility and patience must awaken in the practitioner.
“Everything is hard until it is easy”
Congratulations on earning your Blue Belt! You have been training hard and are in what is called the perseverance stage. You are not that close to Black Belt and the techniques are getting tougher which means you must persevere in order to make it. Here are some things we would like to highlight for your training as a blue belt and a blue stripe.
Board Breaking – the board breaks at this belt level (chop and round kick) can make students a little hesitant because of the “ouch” factor. The best thing to do is to practice with targets over and over to condition the hand and foot. This will also improve accuracy and power which will give the student more confidence and a better chance to break their boards. Overcoming the fear involved (if there is fear) can be quite an accomplishment and show the student what they are capable of with the right preparation and approach.
Back Hook Kick – you learn the back hook kick at the blue belt level. This is a very beautiful, and powerful but difficult technique so spend plenty of time working on it.
Effort Level During Training/Getting ready for the Advanced Class – if you have not already been training at a very high intensity level, you definitely need to get into this habit to raise your fitness and skill level to their potential. One simple thing that you may do if you are not already is practicing the defensive footwork during requirement kicks. This will not only get you in better shape but help build your sparring skill as well.
Dream Team - if you have the goal of not only becoming a Black Belt one day, but also a Taekwondo Instructor, then Dream Team is your direct ticket there. If you are at least 9 years old and a Black Belt Member then you may apply to become part of this elite group. You will not only learn advanced techniques in this class but also how to teach Taekwondo. Internships are a requirement and will give you a step by step path to becoming a Taekwondo Instructor. Please see your instructor for more information.
Brown/Brown Stripe Brown Belt – Signifies the mountains and the earth, the building of a firm foundation.
“The path to Black Belt is like climbing a mountain, the higher you go, the harder it is. But while each step up is harder, you must remember how far you have come since you started this journey and what a waste it would be to turn back now.”
Congratulations on earning your Brown Belt! You are now considered a “High Belt” and may start attending the Advanced level class.
Forms – as you have already noticed, the forms are starting to get longer and more complex. This means a few things; it will be harder to learn, it will take more effort to build skill, but will be a lot more fun to practice. Make sure you ask your instructor for help when learning these forms. Asking for help is not a sign of stupidity or weakness but of maturity because you know that you don’t know and will improve more with guidance than on your own.
Board Breaking – the “punch” break is another break that can cause hesitation from a student. Hopefully the chop and round kick breaks helped prepare you for how to train yourself. Just as before, spend time conditioning the fist and building power and accuracy through the use of equipment.
One-Step Sparring – The skills you are learning in 1-Step Sparring are very useful self defense skills. These techniques are to be practiced over and over until the moves become a reflex (or second nature). This way you will just “react” if someone tries to punch you instead of having to “think” about what to do. That being said you will need to practice them at full speed and with intensity as there are no “do-overs” if someone tries to hit you.
Red Belt Red Belt – Denotes fire, the sun and above all, danger. The student is familiar with techniques, but still lacks the necessary control to execute them sagely in practice sessions.
“The graduation to Black Belt is a day of realization. If you can earn Black Belt then you can do anything you work for. The experience will show that you are strong in your mind, body and spirit.”
Introduction and Overview: The time between Red Belt and Black Belt should be very exciting. The main focus of training at this level is not to learn new techniques (although some new things will be presented), but rather to improve and solidify previous curriculum. This is done for two main reasons:
to show proficiency in the basic and intermediate techniques of Taekwondo in order to progress to the higher levels.
as a Red/Black belt, it is expected to help out in the dojang with lower belt students when asked, thus requiring the student to have a good understanding of color belt requirements.
Steps and Progression: There are 2 belts between the Red and Black Belt level. The Red Stripe Belt and the Poom Belt (half Red, half Black). For specific requirements please see your instructor or the posted curriculum. Only the form, 1 step, breaking and terminology tips are required to earn the 1st and 2nd Belts , all 7 tips are required to graduate to Black Belt. A student must have earned their last tip at least 1 month prior to a Black Belt graduation in order to qualify.
Expectations and Keys to Success: Expectations at the Red Belt level are high, and why shouldn’t they be? You’ve obviously worked hard and proven yourself up to this point, so we know you can handle this challenge as well. To make it to the Red Belt level and not make Black Belt is a disappointment for everyone (You, your friends, your family and lastly your instructors). It should be very motivating to see how far you have come, and have that goal right in front of you. What is the main ingredient to success as a Red Belt? The answer is consistency in training. Practicing 3 times a week in the dojang is good, but if you add in even a little extra practice outside of the school or try coming to an extra class a week, you will make even more progress. Next, make sure you set goals for yourself. Not just that you will test by such and such date, but that by the end of the week you will have the gold belt techniques relearned, or you will have practiced that hook kick break. This way you are always making progress towards that next tip or the black belt.
GPA Requirement (B Average): Doing well in school is more of a priority than Taekwondo. We take priorities and responsibilities very seriously and we will not award a Black Belt to a student that does not take their education seriously. So for students that are in school we require a “B” average for their most recent grading period.
The Black Belt Graduation: What an exciting day, you’ve been working towards this for years and now is the time to prove that you are ready to wear the Black Belt. This will be a culmination of your training up to this point, pushing you physically and mentally. To prepare for this you must train hard every class. This means doing your best in every aspect to help get your body and mind ready for the challenge.
_Award-winning Taekwondo instruction proudly serving the Springfield, Annandale, Burke, Falls Church, West Springfield, Alexandria, Fairfax, Fairfax Station and Clifton communities in Fairfax County, Virginia since in 2004.
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Andrew Gause's Martial Arts provides award-winning Taekwondo instruction proudly serving the Springfield, Annandale, Burke, Falls Church, West Springfield, Alexandria, Fairfax, Fairfax Station and Clifton communities in Fairfax County, Virginia since in 2004.