Promotions and That 10-year-old Black Belt

Children start martial arts at different ages. Some children start at age 8, some at 15, some start at age 4 as a Little Dragon. The best of them, the most dedicated, will arrive at the same place, black belt, but at different speeds and at different ages.

As we move forward to having our first children move to Advanced belts, it’s time to think about how to move forward so that we do not end up with 10-year-old black belts.

I believe martial arts are good for people of all ages. I believe anyone who performs their best should be able to earn a black belt. However, I also believe that there is a level of maturity needed to wear a black belt that most children under the age of 16 do not have.

There are exceptions to every rule, and I am not opposed to 14-year-old, and the rare 13-year-old, but you are not going to see any 10-year-old or even 12-year-old black belts in this school.

So, if your child starts young and progresses at the regular rate of testing every three months through the lower belts, please understand that they will slow down when they hit advanced. They will slow down and progress at their own rate, a rate that will be determined by goals set and met.

Each child who progresses to Advanced will be given a GOALS FOR ADVANCED paper for each belt. It has three goals:

  • Goal set by ETTSD instructors
  • Goal set by student
  • Vocabulary/Martial Value/Protocol

Until the goals are met completely, the student will not be eligible to test.

The goal set by the instructor will be a weakness we believe should not be present in an advanced student.

But more important is the other goal. Asking students to set goals for themselves not only gives them a goal to strive for, it helps determine whether they are ready to progress. Can they see where they need work?

For one student to whom I gave the form this week, I was undecided as to which of two issues I wanted her to work on. I chose one. She, without prompting, chose the other. I can guarantee you, she will progress.

Once they reach Cho Dan Bo (Black Belt Apprentice,) the process is slowed by the Cho Dan Bo Tracking Chart. There is a much larger set of tasks for each student to complete before progressing through the four levels of Cho Dan Bo.

The last level of Cho Dan Bo is a belt that is half black, half blue. In a sense you could think of it as a Junior Black Belt, as a child or really, even as an adult. It is the last level before black belt and if they make it that far there is no doubt they will make it the last step in time.

Through these last phases, please be patient with your child, and with us, if they do not progress as quickly as you would like. We want them to truly attain the skills and mental readiness for black belt before we test them.

Tang Soo!