Martial Arts Monday: Why Do We Test in Taekwondo?


To allay their fears going into a rank testing, I tell my students not to worry; they’ve in fact been testing the entire testing cycle. The test itself is just a demonstration.

That statement is certainly true. The judges and I take each student’s attitude and performance in class into account when deciding the test results. We all understand that everyone has a bad day. But, to a certain degree, particularly at the higher ranks, students must perform at the testing itself or risk not promoting.

Why are tests so important? Why do I as an instructor not just promote students I know can perform to standard, even if they happen to fall short at the rank test?

Ultimately, taekwondo and all martial arts are about self-defense. Defending oneself in real life is a messy and imperfect affair, rarely resembling the controlled practice of class. When forced to defend themselves, people are often their own worst enemies. The body’s physiologic response and the fear of life and death degrade our performance in comparison to how it would be in the safety of the dojang.

As instructors, we need to know you can perform under this pressure. We do self-defense drills in class to help students prepare, but that’s not enough. The only way we can properly evaluate your performance under stress is to put you under stress. A nerve-wracking test in front of the entire school and a board of instructors is the best way to do that.

I myself am not above this: I will be testing in a week and a half for my 5th degree black belt. The only way I can earn that belt is with a stressful test.

Nathan W. Wheatley
4th Degree Black Belt
Owner/Chief Instructor /

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Posted on September 9, 2013, in martial arts monday. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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