Kwanjangnim caught me after class and demanded to know why I’m not tip testing.

“How much is it?” I asked.

“$70 and you need five before you can test for sam dan.”

I nodded. “OK, maybe, but I usually have plans on Saturday.”

“At 7:00 am? Testing for black belt is 7-9 am.” Drats. I shook my head and he went on, “You should be third dan by now. You need to learn third dan form.”

I didn’t tell him Special Forces has been teaching me the third dan form, but I did do the math in my head. I’m supposed to be sam dan, and I’m already supposed to be learning the form. Yet he wants me to take five tip tests at the cost of $70 a test and then pay several hundred for the school third dan and then pay several hundred more for the Kukkiwon (official) third dan.

Hey. Crazy idea. If I’m supposed to be third dan in your eyes, how about you don’t bleed me dry with bullshit “tip tests” and “school belts” and just make me test straight away for third dan.


I asked Special Forces what was required. I have to know the first and second degree forms (got it) and the “kicking sequence.”

I asked to see this kicking sequence. Front kick, side kick, roundhouse kick, crescent kick, high spinning kick followed by a low spinning kick, another crescent, a jumping and turning roundhouse followed by a jumping spinning kick.


I have been at this school for more than a year and never seen that sequence in my life. We’ve practiced a low spinning kick (where your hands and knees are on the ground) once the whole time I’ve been there. If it’s so important, then how come in more than a year of training, nobody has taught it to me and I’ve never even seen it?

And the worst part—the worst part—is that my experience living in Korea has molded me. It’s so hard to say “no” to him because he cornered me, he’s older, and he’s the school head.

I’ll say it again. Goddanit.

One thought on “Goddanit

  1. Comment from: Bob Patterson [Visitor] · http://strikingthoughts.wordpress.com/
    Amanda –

    That’s rough. It’s also why the masters in my old collection of schools got fed up with with US Chung Do Kwan and defected.


    They essentially formed their own martial arts alliance. Our yearly membership to the alliance was $30. Each belt test was $25. And my first dan test only $50.

    The problem is that it is really hard to find schools like these — though they are out there if you look hard enough!

    Are there any other TKD options in your area?

    04/14/10 @ 06:17

    Comment from: admin [Member] Email
    Hey Bob, nice to see you again.

    There are other schools in the area–unfortunately, they’re all basically one and the same when it comes to these made up tip tests and high fees, etc. I went to one school where a first dan test cost something like $550? I think that was the number.

    Unfortunately, I enjoy the art of taekwondo itself. I just don’t enjoy the greediness of the schools. If I thought I’d actually stick with it practicing by myself, that’s what I’d do. But I know myself, and I know I won’t keep it up if I quit.
    04/14/10 @ 07:08

    Comment from: ellipsisknits [Visitor]
    If prices are consistently high, it makes me wonder where all that money is going.

    Is rent or insurance or something significantly higher here?

    Are the testing fees subsidizing something else? Like regular class fees?

    Are the instructors living particularly high on the hog? Or is there a national organization or certification board that has exorbitant fees? (a club I was in in college has a situation like that. The national founders had to be absolutely *making out* on that group)

    I agree that those numbers are more than a little crazy, but when something is crazy and consistent, it makes me think there must be a reason. And like GI Joe says: knowledge is power! (well, sometimes it’s just depressing on a deeper level, but NeverMindThat)
    04/14/10 @ 09:44

    Comment from: admin [Member] Email
    The regular class fee is over $125 a month for two classes or fewer a week. (Although I’m not sure who’s paying attention. I haven’t filled out my attendance card since 2008.)

    The thing is, I don’t really care why the fees are so high. I am in no rush to earn third dan, and I’m certainly in no rush to earn it with fake tip tests to the tune of the cost of more than my first and second degree black belt test cost combined.
    04/14/10 @ 15:38

    Comment from: Mathieu [Visitor] · http://matsway.blogspot.com

    wonder where that money all goes.

    I never got why these fees are so high
    04/19/10 @ 04:21

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