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NOTEThis is an example of the advancement requirements for White Belt through Black Belt.  You may click on any column heading for a description and/or definition.  Again, this is only an example -- all elements are subject to instructor's preference and requirements.  In addition to varying widely by school and instructor, the matrix below also does not represent any official requirements as set forth by the I.T.F., W.T.F., or similar governing body.  What follows, then, is a subjective view based on my personal experience and reflects my own training up to 1st Dan.
 

Advancement Matrix for 10th gup through 1st Dan

For Promotion To... I.T.F.
Pattern
W.T.F.
Pattern
Additional or Optional Pattern(s) Technique Pre-Arranged Sparring Free Sparring Breaking Bag Workout Minimum Time Required Verbal/Written Element
9th gup Chon-Ji None Kicho 1-3 or
Kuk-Mu 1-2
TBD by instructor 1-Step (3)
2-Step (2)
3-Step (1)
1:1 10th gup
1:1 9th gup
1:1 >7th gup
None None 6 months TBD by instructor
8th gup Tan-Gun Taegeuk or
Palgue 1
Pyong-An 1 TBD by instructor 1-Step (5)
2-Step (2)
3-Step (2)
1:1 9th gup
1:1 8th gup
1:1 >6th gup
None None 6 months TBD by instructor
7th gup To-San Taegeuk or
Palgue 2
Pyong-An 2 TBD by instructor 1-Step (5)
2-Step (3)
3-Step (3)
1:1 7th gup
1:1 5th gup
2:1 7th gup
None None 6 months TBD by instructor
6th gup Won-Hyo Taegeuk or 
Palgue 3
Pyong-An 3 TBD by instructor 1-Man 1 (5)
2-Man (3)
1:1 6th gup
1:1 >5th gup
2:1 6th gup
1 board w/ hand technique None 6 months TBD by instructor
5th gup Yul-Kok Taegeuk or
Palgue 4
Pyong-An 4 TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (3)
3-Man (1)
1:1 5th gup
1:1 >4th gup
2:1 >5th gup
3:1 >6th gup
1 board with hand technique.
1 board with foot technique.
60 seconds
w/ both
hands & feet.
6 months TBD by instructor
4th gup Choong-Gun Taegeuk or 
Palgue 5
Pyong-An 5 TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (5)
3-Man (3)
1:1 4th gup
1:1 >4th gup
1:1 >2nd gup
2:1 TBD
2 boards with hand technique.
2 boards with foot technique.
30 seconds
w/ hands only
30 seconds
w/ feet only.
60 seconds
hands & feet.
6 months TBD by instructor
3rd gup Toi-Gye Taegeuk or
Palgue 6
Tekki 1
(Chul-Gi)
TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (5)
3-Man (5)
4-Man (1)
1:1 3rd gup
1:1 >3rd gup
1:1 >1st gup
2/3:1 TBD
2 boards with hand technique.
3 boards with foot technique.
60 seconds
w/ hands only
60 seconds
w/ feet only
60 seconds
hands & feet.
6 months TBD by instructor
2nd gup Hwa-Rang Taegeuk or
Palgue 7
Tekki 2 TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (5)
3-Man (5)
4-Man (3)
1:1 2nd gup
1:1 >2nd gup
1:1 TBD
2/3:1 TBD
3 boards with hand technique.
3 boards with foot techniqe.
60 seconds
w/ hands only
60 seconds
w/ feet only.
90 seconds
hands & feet.
8 months TBD by instructor
1st gup Choong-Mu Taegeuk or
Palgue 8
Tekki 3 TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (5)
3-Man (5)
4-Man (5)
1:1 1st gup
1:1 >1st gup
1:1 TBD
2/3:1 TBD
3 boards with hand technique.
4 boards with foot technique.
90 seconds
w/ hands only
90 seconds
w/ feet only.
90 seconds
hands & feet.
8 months TBD by instructor
Black Belt
(1st Dan)
Kwang-Gae 2 Koryo Bassai (Bal-Sek)
and/or
Kanku (Kong-San-Koon)
TBD by instructor 1-Man (5)
2-Man (5)
3-Man (5)
4-Man (5)
1:1 1st Dan
1:1 TBD
2:1 TBD
3:1 TBD
Special: TBD
One block (slab) with hand technique 90 seconds
w/ hands only
90 seconds
w/ feet only.
120 seconds
hands & feet.
1 year TBD by instructor

Footnotes:
1    At the 6th gup level, two-step and three-step sparring is no longer practiced.  Beginning at the 6th gup level, one-step sparring is done against multiple assailants attacking in turn.
2    Officially, the I.T.F. only requires patterns Chon-Ji through Choong-Mu for advancement to Black Belt.

Column Descriptions and Definitions:

For Promotion To:
This column gives the gup rank to which one is being advanced pending one's fulfillment of the stated requirements.

I.T.F. Pattern:
This is the International Taekwon-do Federation pattern that matches the associated gup rank.  For instance, for advancement from 10th gup to 9th gup one must learn and be able to satisfactorily perform pattern Chon-Ji.  For advancement from 3rd gup to 2nd gup, one must be able to satisfactorily perform pattern Hwa-Rang.

W.T.F. Pattern:
This is the appropriate World Taekwondo Federation pattern that one must learn for promotion to this rank.  For instance, to advance from 9th gup to 8th gup one must learn the 1st Taegeuk pattern (or the first Palgue pattern).  For advancement from 2nd gup to 1st gup, one must learn the 8th Taegeuk pattern (or the 8th Palgue pattern).

Additional or Optional Pattern(s):
This column lists patterns that, for some schools, might be associated with promotion to a particular gup rank.  While most of these are not in use by the majority of modern schools, they are retained by many traditional instructors.  In Shotokan Karate, the Pyong-An and Tekki patterns are taught in succession, leading to one's testing for black belt.

Technique:
Individual techniques should be performed as is appropriate for one's rank.  Usually these are dictated by the instructor, either sometime before the test is to begin or during the test itself.  These may or may not be the same for every student testing.  As an example, a white belt might only be expected to perform basic blocks and attacks that are used in his/her current hyung being practiced.  Whereas a 3rd gup might be required to perform basic blocks and attacks along with more advanced techniques such as multiple attacks, techniques which require multiple movements, jumping/flying kicks, etc.

Pre-Arranged Sparring:
This includes One-Step, Two-Step, and Three-Step sparring.  These are pre-arranged sequences of defending and attacking that students should demonstrate with greater and greater skill and precision as they advance.  As one advances, two- and three-step sparring is often discontinued in favor of one-step sparring against multiple aggressors.  The reason is that intermediate students should begin practicing their multiple attacks during free sparring and concentrate on developing a "One Strike.  One Kill." philosophy with their one-steps.  Some schools, however, do not use two- and three-step sparring at all, while others utilize them throughout the gup ranks.  Beginners typically use techniques that they see others performing or those that the school requires for beginning ranks, but as a student advances he/she should have an increasingly active role in developing his/her own one-steps, creating their own combinations for use in testing and demonstrating to others.

Free Sparring:
The only guideline to free sparring during a test is that one should not fight any student below the gup rank to which he/she is advancing.  Exceptions would include matches against multiple attackers.  Matches should last long enough to determine the student's ability relative to others who have advanced to the same gup rank.  They should not be so long as to completely fatigue the student for rounds to come, nor should they be so short that an appropriate appraisal is not made.  Requiring a student to defend himself against multiple attacker's is not practiced at every school.

Breaking:
Breaking usually does not begin at the most elementary levels, but is introduced before one reaches what one might call the "intermediate" stage.  The purpose of breaking is to demonstrate that the student understands the principles of power and motion used in his techniques.  It should show the instructor that the student understands the proper striking surfaces, distance of attack, and movement throughout the breaking technique.  Usually the gup student is required to break boards, only moving up to a slab (cinder) or block at the black belt level.  Number of boards increases as one advances, requiring an ever greater understanding of proper technique and form.  Also, as one progresses, breaks of less than the required number of boards should be done with more advanced techniques, thus raising the difficulty relative to the number of boards used.  (i.e.  An advanced student should not be doing breaks involving only one or two boards unless he is using an much more difficult technique (such as a spear hand or jumping/spinning kick).

Bag Workout:
During a bag workout the student attacks a heavy bag with hands, feet or both for a prescribed amount of time.  The student is allowed to use any techniques he/she wishes so long as he/she uses only the body part prescribed during the allotted time and does not stop to rest.  During the workout the student may be as "fancy" or "rough" as one would like.  The idea is to see how the student puts together his/her own combinations in succession (Does one technique flow into another, or does the student briefly 'stop' after each punch or kick?), how well the student uses power to manipulate the heavy bag (Does he/she get knocked around by the bag, appropriately dodge the bag, or use his/her techniques to manipulate the weight of the bag?), and to see how the student deals with accumulating fatigue (How long does it take for the student's speed to significantly diminish?  How quickly do the techniques become too poor to be effective, if at all?  At what rate does a student's power decline?)

Minimum Time Required:
This is the minimum time required between each successive promotion test.  Most schools will allow the student to have his/her time requirements waived for one test (and one test only) between 10th gup and 1st Dan.  Some schools extend this to students testing for 2nd and 3rd Dan provided they have not had any previous time requirements waived.  Time requirements obviously will vary from school to school, but 3 - 6 months in between each promotion test is a minimum in most legitimate organizations.

Verbal / Written Element:
This varies significantly from one instructor to another.  Typically beginners are asked to recite school rules, orders or tenets of Taekwondo.  They should also be able to explain the meaning of the pattern they are studying and be familiar with the terminology of techniques up to their level.  Advancing students will be expected to explain the purpose behind techniques and different applications.  The most advanced gup ranks should be able to do that which is listed above in addition to showing an ability to relay information and technique correctly to beginners.  Those advancing to black belt should be thoroughly familiar with every pattern's meaning and application.  They should be completely fluent in the terminology used in class -- able to both understand and issue commands.  They should be able to repeatedly demonstrate an ability to teach others and correct beginner's mistakes.  They should also be able to answer higher level questions in essay form.  These questions and/or test requirements can be as vague or specific as the tester or student would like.


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