It is a common misconception that a black belt in taekwondo signifies mastery, but true black belts know that the ranks below the black belt are simply stepping stones to learning the basics and fundamentals of the art. There is a trend toward guaranteeing that a student can receive a black belt in only two or three years. This is generally viewed by taekwondo purists as a disservice to the student, who is limited in what she can learn in such a short time period. The process is grueling and the training is long; expect to put in at least three to five years of consistent practice first.
To receive a black belt in taekwondo, you must learn and master a variety of forms -- a pre-described set of movements meant to simulate self-defense using taekwondo -- appropriate for the ranks leading up to the black belt. When testing for a black belt, the judges can ask you to perform any of the under-belt forms as well as the first black-belt form. They will look for proper timing and stances as well as focused power in each individual technique.
Depending on where you are studying taekwondo, you will have to demonstrate your power by breaking boards or other objects with techniques. You’re going to have to know what you’re doing to accomplish this, since it is easy to break a bone if you don’t hit the object properly and with correct technique. Some schools require students to break a board held over their head with a jumping and spinning kick. The judges will not only look for the board to break, but they also will be carefully watching the timing and technique.
One-step sparring is a simulated attack in which your partner will take an exaggerated step forward and throw a simulated punch at you so you can demonstrate self-defense techniques. While you are performing these techniques, the judges will look for proper timing, the choice of technique, focused power and self-confidence in your ability.
Free sparring is exactly what it sounds like -- two equally matched martial artists demonstrating their ability in a full-speed, light-contact sparring match in front of high-ranking black belts. The judges will look for your ability to protect yourself and counter an attack instinctively, along with your self-confidence and abilities when under attack.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.