The International Taekwon-Do Federation Headquarters Korea (ITF HQ Korea) offers black belt (degree) certification to those ITF HQ Korea members that are eligible for grading and/or complete courses offered by ITF HQ Korea.
The eligibility criteria for degree testing is based on the compulsory time period required for training between the respective degrees (Choi Hong Hi Condensed Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do, 5th Edn. 1999, p727). ITF HQ Korea also offers a certificate recognition scheme or degree bridging programs for ITF HQ Korea members derived from different ITF organizations or other Martial Art styles that would like to study, progress and be recognized in ITF Taekwon-Do, and already hold degrees (black belts) in their respective martial art disciplines. The ITF HQ Korea degree certification program is divided into 3 main categories that have different procedures for application or recognition:
ITF Headquarters Korea
Members of ITF HQ Korea who initiated their training and have maintained their membership in ITF HQ Korea during their Taekwon-Do journey, and have a full track record of their Taekwon-Do activities, training hours, grade/degree achievements etc.
Requirements for ITF Headquarters Korea members
The degree awarding process is based on the “Criteria for grade and degree” as described in the Gen. Choi Hong Hi’s Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do, (Choi Hong Hi , Condensed Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do, 5th Edn. 1999, p727). The criteria are based on the total number of hours and days required for the student to obtain first degree black belt, and years for the further black belt degrees.
Minimum training period
Potential reduction of training period interval
From 1st to 2nd degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 3 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in a relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment.(1)
Boo-sabum nim (assistant instructor)
From 2nd to 3rd degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 4 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Boo-sabum nim (assistant instructor)
From 3rd to 4th degree
Minimum age requirement – 18 years
Maximum reduction of training period up to 5 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Sabum nim (Instructor)
From 4th to 5th degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 6 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Sabum nim (Instructor)
From 5th to 6th degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 7 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Sabum nim (Instructor)
From 6th to 7th degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 8 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Sahyun nim (Master)
From 7th to 8th degree
Maximum reduction of training period up to 9 months can be obtained if a candidate takes part in relevant training courses or events, and successfully completes the assessment (*)
Sahyun nim (Master)
From 8th to 9th degree
In special circumstances and to further the development of the ITF, the promotion board can grant a reduction of this period. Unanimous consent must be granted by a special committee that shall consist of 9 members that are holders of either 7th or 8th degree recognized by ITF HQ Korea.
Sasung nim (Grand Master)
Degree Promotion Certifier Or Panel
As described in the Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do, (Choi Hong Hi , Condensed Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do, 5th Edn. 1999, p727), it is customary that a qualified instructor may test up to one half of his/her holding degree. For example, 4 Degree may test up to 2nd degree and 6 Degree, up to 3rd Degree.
In certain circumstances such as in regions where there are not sufficiently highly ranked qualified instructors, ITF HQ Korea may grant permission to a lower rank Degree holder (for example, a 5th Degree may be given permission to test up to 3rd Degree and a 7th Degree to test up to 4th Degree) or a committee that consists of more than 3 and less than 7 members possessing at minimum a degree the testing candidate has applied for to conduct a grading (for example, a candidate that has applied for a 4th Degree test may be evaluated by a committee consisting of at least 3 members holding a minimum of 4th Dan).
Such permission will be issued on a case by case basis by ITF HQ Korea administration and the degree holder granted such permission for testing must be in contact with a mentor usually a senior instructor or master that will give him/her all support and instructions to properly conduct the test.
Upon completion of Degree examinations all testing results and necessary documents must be forwarded to ITF HQ Korea administration within a maximum of 30 days from the actual testing date.
Steps For Degree Application
Members must Complete and submit their Degree application form and payment a minimum of 3 months before the planned date of grading.
ITF HQ Korea will assist the candidate by suggesting a test location and an examiner if such a need exists. After the candidate has successfully completed their test a certificate will be issued and sent to the candidate within 30 days of ITF HQ Korea receiving the test results and examiners report.
Other ITF Organizations members
Non ITF HQ Korea members that apply for ITF HQ Korea membership and hold valid certificates for degrees (Dan) approved by other ITF organizations that developed after the death of the founder Gen Choi Hong Hi, provided the degrees were awarded according to ITF rules and regulations. It is important to note that this rule excludes recognition of rank for those members who changed organization and received a higher degree recognition without maintaining a proper training time interval as set by the ITF regulations. The rank of such members will be re-evaluated on a case by case basis.
Requirements for members of other ITF organizations
Certificates that have been issued by ITF organizations that developed following the death of General Choi Hong Hi will be automatically recognized at the level certified by the issuing organization after completion of a membership application form, payment of requisite fees and the provision of legitimate copies of all Degree certificates. If there is a discrepancy between the Degree training period and the awarding of the rank, then an explanation for the discrepancy may be required with additional proof (e.g. courses attended – copy of the appropriate certificates; or if granted by the founder a description of this event) to be provided. Moreover, a CV (in English) and the contact details of 3 referees that could vouch for the applicant’s qualifications must be submitted.
Steps For Certificate Application
ITF HQ Korea administration will assess the documents and should any discrepancy occur, it will contact the candidate and/or referees for clarification. Upon completion of the assessment process, a recognition certificate will be issued and sent to the applicant within 30 days of completion of the assessment procedure. Once the applicants rank is ratified the candidate will be entitled to most privileges of ITF HQ Korea certified members. If the candidate fulfils the requirements for their next Degree test they may attempt their test only after being a member of ITF HQ Korea for a minimum 12 months. If the deadline for their next Degree test occurs as above or before the one year trial membership period the test will be conducted after receiving full eligibility as a member, but will be backdated to the date of eligibility for Degree testing. Once a candidates degree is recognised, their next testing procedure will proceed as per members who initiated their membership with ITF HQ Korea at beginning of their Taekwon-Do journey and have a full track record of their Taekwon-Do activities.
An application for membership should be submitted to become an active member of ITF HQ Korea
A Degree recognition form with all necessary documents (see the Degree Recognition Form) should be submitted with the requisite fees transferred to ITF HQ Korea.
None ITF Taekwon-do members
Former ITF members that practice a more traditional version of ITF Taekwon-Do and whose organization left the ITF before it had fully developed, and non- Taekwon-Do ITF martial arts practitioners (e/g. WTF Taekwondo, Karate, etc.) that wish to study, improve, progress in the art of ITF Taekwon-Do and have their skills certified.
Requirements for none ITF Taekwon-do members
The recognition of former ITF and/or non-ITF members degrees with ITF HQ Korea is based on the assumption that these members are eager to study and practice the art of ITF Taekwon-Do and will follow the structured programs that will assist them to reach an equivalent of their rank gained over the years of training of other Martial Arts, and to maintain their hierarchy and status also within the ITF community. ITF HQ Korea’s goal is to provide for genuine ITF members as well as non-ITF exponents a fair, consistent and thorough education and testing procedure that recognizes and incorporated their differences in style and training methods.
Who is suitable for these certificates?
ITF HQ Korea’s bridging programs provide the opportunity for former ITF and other Martial Arts organization members to be recognized from the moment of joining ITF HQ Korea up to the rank of 6th Degree (pre-master) level. This is irrespective of whether they hold a 6th degree or higher rank in other Martial Arts organizations. Such rules fairly acknowledge the genuine ITF members as well as provide substantial hierarchical status for the non-ITF members who initially possess very limited knowledge about ITF Taekwon-Do and cannot genuinely be called Masters of ITF Taekwon-do. Such members, although they receive rank certificates up to and inclusive of 6th Degree must however, be mentored by chosen leaders until their skills and knowledge equate with the ITF requirements for the relevant degrees. Therefore, they cannot individually conduct examinations, of ITF candidates and other ITF technical functions until they achieve the required standard. However, in order to assist such members in their education and to recognize their extensive experience of other Martial Arts that give them knowledge and ability that cannot be gained within a short period of time, the training times between degrees can be amended according to the progress of the candidate. When such candidate is ready to complete a part of the assessment, his/her qualification will be recognized by a promotion committee to that level and he/she will gain the right to perform technical duties at that achieved level. For example, a 7th Degree non-ITF member who joined ITF HQ Korea and whose rank when joining (after the verification of all previous ranks and certificates etc.) is recognized as a 6th Degree ITF member, may following a 2-year period of intensive training and attendance of ITF HQ Korea educational events have his/her skills and knowledge recognized at ITF 4th Degree Instructor level, this member is then eligible to all privileges that are assigned to a 4th Degree Instructor including testing students up to 2nd Degree.
Before testing for advanced levels the individual must be an active member of ITF HQ Korea for a minimum 12 months.
ITF HQ Korea administration will assess the documents and should any discrepancy occur, it will contact the candidate and/or referees for clarification. Upon completion of the assessment process, a recognition certificate will be issued and sent to the applicant within 30 days of completion of the assessment procedure. The candidate will be assessed at an appropriate level up to and including 6th Degree in the ITF. After the recognition process is completed the member will have a designated mentor that will assist the member in the bridging courses and training in order to bring his/her skills and knowledge to the recognized level. The mentor will also recommend to the promotion committee partial recognition of the member as soon as the member is capable. After a successful assessment of the member to a level he/she gains the rights to act at that assessed level regardless of whether he/she holds a higher rank. This partial recognition process will end when the member holds the equivalent skills and knowledge of the level of the recognized Degree.
After the recognition of the Certificate the candidate is entitled to all privileges as an ITF HQ Korea certified member and if eligible for next Degree test, he/she can attempt the test after being a member of ITF HQ Korea for a minimum 12 months. If the deadline for the Degree test occurs before the one year trial membership period the test will be conducted after receiving eligibility as a member but will be backdated to the date of eligibility for Degree testing. After recognition of the Degree from other (non-ITF) organizations the next testing procedure will proceed as per members who joined the ITF HQ Korea since the beginning of their Taekwon-Do journey with the full track record of their Taekwon-Do activities.