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To understand the purpose of "belt testing" or promotion test in Taekwondo, you should start with a general understanding of what Taekwondo is, then what the belt itself represents, and finally what is a promotion test or examination in Taekwondo. After that, you can begin to understand why the test is an important part of the learning and teaching process.

In the broadest sense, Taekwondo is a combination of an educational curriculum, a physical fitness activity, and a skill that is applied to many aspects of life - - including the defense of one's self, and others. Advanced knowledge and skill of Taekwondo is acquired through a blend of personal life experience, qualified instruction, and intense practice.

Only a qualified Master possesses all the pieces of the puzzle, and can see the full picture of what the student is there to learn. Instructors are under the guidance of a Master, and they do the job of teaching the student on a daily basis. Instructors are skilled practitioners (usually certified Black Belts who have additional training as teachers), and they know what they are doing, but need a structured curriculum to ensure that the art is not taught incorrectly, nor incompletely due to individual mistakes, personal preferences, or a lack of integrity.

The process of testing is setting, and reaching goals. The first main goal of a student is to build a solid foundation, and become an expert at the basics. This is the level of 1st Degree Black Belt. There is far too much information, and skill to reach the Black Belt than can be consistently comprehended in one block of training material. Therefore, it has been the experience of Master Instructors that students learn best, retain the information, and are able to pass it on to the next generation with greater preservation, as well as improvement, if the basics are divided into graduated levels called grades. Each color belt represents a different "geup" (grade - 급) or level of progress from novice to expert as a dan (degree - 단).

The promotion test serves the purpose of checking the student, the instructor, and the curriculum itself as a successful tool for teaching the lessons. At specific intervals along the path of progress, the student is called upon to demonstrate what they have learned, and are graded by experienced judges on their performance. In addition to the physical skills, there is an element of mental challenge that is very important for the student to learn how to control emotions, adrenaline, and focus their concentration while under a stressful situation. The student gains confidence in themselves, and their instructor by accomplishing goals, and witnessing their own personal achievements of abilities that their conscious mind might not have been aware they were capable of doing.

At these checkpoints, called promotion tests, the Instructors are also tested, taught and corrected through their own student's progress and performance by the Master Instructors who judge the results of proper or improper instruction. The curriculum itself is also put to the test as students either benefit from the training, or the Masters discover where adjustments need to be made in the teaching curriculum. It is better to catch an error, and make the correction as soon as possible, rather than repeat the mistake for a longer period, and develop less than ideal reflexes that later need to be unlearned before learning the lesson correctly.

One important aspect of a Taekwondo test is to bring the entire family together at one event where the newest of students can meet the most senior of Masters (like a child meeting their great-grandparent). The Dojang Sabeom (school head Master - 도장 사범) should strive to grow, and expand the student body, as well as the Taekwondo organization to help spread the knowledge, and success of the education. At promotion tests, relationships beyond the immediate classroom are developed, and strengthened, and each member of the Taekwondo family is exposed to the philosophy, and direction of the senior Master or Grandmaster, rather than each individual instructor heading off in their own direction, to divide and dilute the art through inexperience, and lack of leadership.

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Q: What is the purpose of belt testing in Tae Kwon Do?
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