Grading Theory


Beginner to Black beltpaperbackstanding2_693x872

For Green Belt and Above, we recommend that you purchase a detailed I.T.A. Training Manual.  

Explanation of Grading questions for students and parents of students going from white belt beginner up towards Green Belt.

Why do Taekwon-Do students have to learn theory questions for a grading?

Taekwon-Do is a martial art, a fitness programme for the body, a discipline programme for the mind, a world-wide competitive sport, and indeed a life-style education that helps all sections of society both young and old. The reason why students are asked questions is to encourage a more deeper study than knowing just about kicking and punching. Here we will start with some of the most fundamental information that will help students up getting from White Belt up towards Green belt.

Would a new student fail to pass if they did not know any grading theory ?

Every  Taekwon-Do school, instructor, association and student is different. I take the view that very basic questions are asked for the first three belts. It has to be interesting for the beginner. Standing at a grading and reeling off answers that have little interest or no known benefit to the beginning student amounts to a  disservice to all concerned.

Below are some of the theory questions and answers, that I would like beginners and those students under the grade of 6th Kup Green Belt, as well as their parents, to take an interest in.

What is Taekwon-Do and when was it officially recognised ? 

Taekwon-Do is a Korean military form of self-defence and the scientific use of the body and mind for attacking and defensive techniques learned through intensive and disciplined physical and mental training. It was officially recognised in April 11th 1955.


Who was the founder of Taekwon-Do? General Choi Hong Hi.

What does Taekwon-Do mean? The Art or the Way (Do) of Hand (Tae)  and Foot. (Kwon)  Literally it means: The way of the hand and foot.

What is a Taekwon-Do Tenet?

It is a belief or an attitude a person needs to adopt when training in Taekwon-Do

What are the Five Tenets?

  1. Courtesy
  2. Integrity
  3. Perseverance
  4. Self-Control
  5. Indomitable spirit


What is the name for the uniform? = Dobuk.

What is the name of the Training Hall? = Dojang.

Where does Taekwon-Do come from? Korea

Why is the word Taekwon-Do written like this, and not all the letters together? 

This is because the last two letters that spell “Do” means ‘The Way’.  This could mean it is a way of life for you. What you value most, which for many students is good health mentally, emotionally and physically.  For many teenagers and younger students, it is an exciting sport. Originally it was written as three separate words:  Tae  Kwon Do.

When General Choi introduced it first he wanted it to be pronounced correctly especially in western countries. The Hyphen was introduced in 1972 keeping the hand foot part of the word ”Taekwon’ separate from the ‘Do’ or way part of the word. This was seen as the best way to emphasize the balance between the physical which is Taekwon and the mental side of Taekwon-Do which is the Do.

What is the significance in the way Taekwon-Do is written on the back of the Dobuk?

It represents the evergreen tree in that the tree never sheds it’s leaves and always shows it’s true colours. Evergreen tree is Taekwon-Do written on top as the branches and the Korean writing of Taekwon-Do as the strong bark of the tree underneath. Like the Evergreen for all year round, the student strives towards their best effort in each class they attend.

Why do Taekwon-Do students learn Korean?

Students and Instructors do not have to fully understand the entire language but only the technical terms. Especially in the beginning stages. You will be surprised if you are a beginner or a white tag because the commands used by the instructor is a lot of Korean already. Taekwon-Do is a worldwide known martial art students from various countries can learn some Korean words so everyone can benefit and train together. Some of the commands that you will hear in the class will be very familiar to you after about three or four lessons. This is because most of the commands, like Get Ready = Joom-Bee, or Attention = Charry-Ut, Bow =Kung -Ya are used all the time.

What is counting one to ten in Korean.

Hunna, Dool, Set, Net, Dasot, Yosut, Il-Gup, Yodul, Ahop, Yol .

What happens is a regular Taekwon-Do class?

When you enter the training area or hall this is called a Do-Jang. Here you need to bow  to show respect to your fellow students and peers, to your instructors and seniors, to the place itself as this is where you will attempt your best efforts to get fit and stay healthy and use discipline as a positive force in your life. When you bow all these reasons are reminders to what your goals are and why you are training. This is part of the discipline. Physically the class begins with a warm up. Next fundamental movements and patterns are taught to develop and improve technique and focus. After this comes Sparring which is almost an art and finishes with a warm down.

At what part do students learn about discipline?

Discipline is having a positive habit in your life. This becomes an attitude you adopt when you come for training and with regular practise you continue to make it outside of Taekwon-do as well so it becomes an important habit  to develop throughout your life. To help, certain guidelines contained in the Do-Jang Guidelines will be of great benefit.

What are the basic Dojang (Training Hall) Guidelines?

There are many but the basic ones are:

  • Be on time for your classes.
  • Bow upon and leaving the Do-Jang.
  • Line up when you are called into the lines. The most senior student stands in the right hand and calls Chary-Ut (attention) and Kyong-Ya (bow).
  • The Taekwon-Do Oath is recited prior to training.
  • Address the instructor as Sir/Mam or Miss.
  • Ask if you need to leave the Do-Jang.
  • Always wear your Dobuk (Training suit) in all the classes. This must be clean and pressed and the belt tied evenly around your waist. Your grooming must also be tidy and clean with no jewelry.  Personal hygiene is expected. e.g. finger and toenails to be clipped and clean.
  • Smoking eating, drinking, chewing gum or swearing have no place a Taekwon-Do class and are not permitted.
  • If you need to wear a t-shirt under the Dobuk it must be white.
  • No talking in class except to encourage someone or to ask questions.
  • If you arrive late stand at the side and ask the instructors permission to join into the class.
  • Show self-control always.
  • Sparring Rules apply for students with full sparring equipment at yellow belt level.
  • When the instructor is explaining something and you are sitting on the floor. Sit with your legs crossed and with your back up straight. If you are standing up, stand in a ready position with both hands held behind your back not on your hips. These are small ways in which you learn discipline and improve your listening and concentration skills.
  • There are some more, which will require more personal discipline, but for now these will guide your training up towards Green Belt.



I shall observe the Tenets of Taekwon-Do

I shall respect my instructors and seniors

I shall never misuse Taekwon-Do

I shall be a champion of freedom and justice

I shall build a more peaceful world.


What is the name of the Training Hall? = Do-Jang.

Why is the belt tied around the waist only once?

For three reasons.

1.To achieve or to pursue one goal once determined until completion.

2. To express loyalty to only one master and

3. To gain victory with only one blow.


What are the Belt colours in Taekwon-Do?  

There are six main colours including White all the way to Black. In between each colour there is a Tag Grading. For example: If you are a Yellow Belt before you are promoted to the Green belt you must first pass the Green Tag grading. The same all the way up. There is a Preliminary Black Belt grading at Black Tag.

What are the Meanings of the Colours?

White:  Means innocence that the beginner has no knowledge of Taekwon-Do.

Yellow: Means the yellow earth in which a strong foundation is being laid for the plant to take root.

Green: Means the colour of a sprouting plant in which Taekwon-Do skills begin to develop.

Blue: Signifies the heavens towards the plant is grows and matures into a towering tree.

Red:  Signifies danger and that the wearer has yet to fully master self-control.

Black:  The opposite of White and the dark colour signifies that the wearer is not afraid of anything that darkness brings and can face any fear.


What are the meaning of the Tenets of Taekwon-Do?

  • Courtesy means to be polite and show mutual respect to each other.
  • Integrity means Honesty and always tell and live by the truth.
  • Perseverance means never give Up. While all the Tenets are important this one will be called upon in every training session and anytime you feel that your life inside or outside the Do-Jang gets tough. Key issues would be having exciting goals in your life and having ht eability to follow through until the end.
  • Self-Control. On a basic beginner scale, it means to control yourself, your temper, not to give in to too many temptations, not too judge anyone too harshly. To be calm and not allow too much stress in your life. On a more senior scale it would mean total control over the five senses.
  • Indomitable Spirit. This is a bit beyond Perseverance. Where your real true self, your inner spirit will keep going and striving towards what you wish and want for most of all in the long term. It means when a courageous person and their values are up against overwhelming odds. If a serious student of Taekwon-Do is confronted with injustice, he or she will have the strength of character to face the fear without any hesitation, regardless of consequences. Key issue would be standing up for what you believe in, against any odds.

What is a Pattern or Tul?

A pattern is a series of movements against an imaginary opponent using attack and defence techniques performed in a logical sequence and planned over a set diagram.

What is Saju Jirugi?

This being not a pattern but it is required for the first grading and is called four directional punch.

Why do we bow when we enter and leave the Do- Jang? To show respect to the instructor, to the place where we are learning and to our fellow students.


Name and show all the stances that you know? What are their weight distributions?

Attention Stance – Cheriot Sogi – 50:50

Parallel Ready Stance – Narani Junbi Sogi – 50:50

Sitting Stance – Annun Sogi – 50:50

L-Stance – Niunja Sogi – 70:30

Walking Stance – Gunnan Sogi – 50:50 (1.5 shoulder widths from toe to toe)

Fixed Stance – Gojong Sogi – 50:50 (1.5 should width from toe to toe)

Low Stance – Nacho Sogi – 50:50 (1.5 shoulder with from heel to toe)

Bending Ready Stance – Goburyo Sogi

Vertical Stance – Soojik Sogi 60:40

Rear Foot Stance – Dwitbal Sogi

Moa Sogi – Closed Stance


Name and show all the blocks you know:

Outer Forearm low block – Bakat Palmok Najunde Makgi

Outer Forearm high block – Bakat Palmok Napunde Makgi

Inner Forearm middle block – An Palmok Kaunde Makgi

Rising block – Chookyo Makgi

Guarding block – Palmok Daebi Makgi

Knife hand Guarding block – Sonkal Daebi Makgi

Double Forearm Guarding block – Doo Palmok Makgi

Twin Forearm block – Sang Palmok Makgi

Wedging block – Hechyo Makgi

Circular block -  Dollimyo Makgi

Hooking block – Golcho Makgi

X-block – Kyocha Makgi

X-fist Pressing block – Kyocha Noollo Makgi

Palm pressing block – Sonbadak Noollo Makgi

Double forearm low Pushing block – Doo Palmok Najunde Miro Makgi

W-shape Block – San Makgi

Pushing Block – Miro Makgi

Checking block – Momchau Makgi

Twin Palm Upward block – Sang Sonbadak Ollyo Makgi

U-Shape block – Digutja Makgi

Name and show all the strikes you know:

Backfist strike – dung joomuk Taerigi

Knife hand strike – Sonkal Taerigi

Reverse Knife hand strike – Sonkal Dung Ap Taerigi

Knife hand front strike – Sonkal Napunde Ap Taerigi

Downward strike – Naeryo Taerigi

Name and show the punches you know:

Front punch – Ap Jirugi

Low/Middle/High punch – Najunde/Kaunde/Napunde Jirugi

Side punch – Yop Jirugi

Sang Sewo Jirugi – twin vertical punch

Name and show the thrusts you know

Spear/Straight Fingertip thrust – Sun Sonkut Tulgi

Name and show all the kicks that you know:

Front snap kick – Ap cha Busigi

Turning kick – Dollyo Chagi

Reverse turning kick – Bandae Dollyo Chagi

Side kick – Yop Chagi

Side Piercing Kick – Yopcha Jirugi

Back kick – Dwit Chagi

Downward kick – Naeryo Chagi

Hooking kick – Golcho Chagi

Flying Kick – Twimyo

Attacking/blocking tools – Parts of the Body

Forefist – Ap Joomuk

Back Fist – Dung Joomuk

Footsword – Balkal

Ball of the Foot – Apkumchi

Knifehand – Sonkal

Reverse Knifehand – Sonkal Dung

Elbow – Palkup

Knee – Moorup

Inner Forearm – An Palmok

Outer Forearm – Bakat Palmok


What is a Pattern (Tul)?

A series of fundamental movements using attack and defence techniques against an imaginary opponent.

What is the meaning of Chon-Ji?

This has 19 movements and means Heaven and Earth. The first part is called heaven and the second is called Earth.

What is the meaning of Dan Gun?

This pattern has 21 movements and is called after the holy Dan Gun the legendary founder of Korea in the year 2333BC.

What is the meaning of Do-San?

This pattern has 24 movements and is the name given to (pseudonym) a great educator Ahn Chang -Ho. Born in 1876 and died in prison in  1938. He devoted his entire life to the education of Korea.

More about Do-San: He placed a huge value on the study of many various and diverse subjects. He was facinated by the power of the mind and it’s use in continual study. He was severely persecuted for his patriotism to his country. because of this many Koreans and famous Taekwon-Do masters place a big value on all forms of education. He was well revered as a major historical figure in America because from an early age he studied western culture and education. He wrote the Korean National Anthem. He lived an extremely meaningful and honourable life and has left a legacy that anyone can overcome barriers no matter how great. Do-San means Island Mountain which he adopted as his nickname after he visited the Hawaiian Islands. as recently as 6th of January 2012 Ahn Chang Ho was inducted into the international civil rights walk of fame.

Meaning of Won-Hyo (28 movements): Won-Hyo was the noted monk who introduced Buddhism into the Silla Dynasty (686AD).

Meaning of Yul-Gok (38 movements): Yul Gok is the pseudonym of the greta philosopher and scholar Yi-I (1536-1584) who was nicknamed the Confucius of Korea. The 38 movements of this pattern  represent his birthplace on 38 degrees latitude and the diagram represents the scholar.

Meaning of Joong-Gun (32 movements): Joong-Gun is named after the patriot  An Joong-Gun, who assassinated Hiro Bumi-Ito, the first Japanese governor general of Korea, known as the man who played the leading part of the Korea-Japan merger. The 32 movements of this pattern refer to Mr An’s age when he was executed in Lui-Shung prison in 1910.

Meaning of Toi-Gye (37 movements): Toi-Gye was the penname of a great philosopher nad scholar Yi-Hwang (16th century),  an authority on Neo Confucianism. The 37 movements refer to his birthplace 37 degrees latitude and the diagram represents “scholar”.

Meaning of Hwa-Rang (29 movements): Hwa-Rang is named after the Hwa-Rang youth group, which originated in the Silla Dynasty in the early 7th century. The 29 movements refer to the 29th Infantry Division, where Taekwon-Do developed into maturity.

Meaning of Choong-Moo (30 movements):  Choong-Moo was the name given to the great Admiral Yi Soon-Sin of the Lee Dynasty. He was known for inventing the first armoured battleship (Kobukson) in 1592, thought to be the precursor of today’s submarine.

The reason this pattern ends in a left hand attack is to symbolize his regrettable death, which happened before his ability and full potential was recognized by the king.

What do you say when you present yourself for a grading?

When your name is called, state you are present by saying out loud “Here Sir” or “Here Mam”.  Walk towards the mats where you will be given a spot by the examiner. When all those testing are ready you will be asked again to “State your name and grade” . so for example : Peter Ryan, Green Tag Sir.




What are the 9 training secrets of Taekwon-Do?

1. To Study the theory of power correctly.

2. To understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.

3. To bring the movement of the eyes, hands, feet, and breath into a single coordinated action.

4. To choose the appropriate attacking tool for each vital spot.

5. To become familiar with the correct angle and distance for attack and defence.

6. To keep both arms and legs bent slightly while the movement is in motion.

7. That all movements begin with a backwards motion with very few exceptions. However, once the movement is in motion it should not be stopped before reaching the target.

8. To create sine wave during the movement by utilizing the knee spring properly.

9. To exhale briefly at the moment of each blow except during a connecting motion.

Give a brief Explanation of the Sine Wave?

The body is relaxed at the beginning of the movement and the center of gravity is then raised to create energy (potential energy) which is converted into kinetic energy by dropping so increasing power.

Explain Continuous Motion?

Where two movements are performed with full sine wave for each movement but with one continuous breath. This is like the low black and rising block in Dan Gun. Numbers 13 and 14.

Explain Fast Motion?

Where two movements are performed in quick succession each with a sharp fast breath and with half sine wave for the second motion. Like numbers 15 and 16 in Do San and same in 19 and 20.

What is Backwards Motion ?

With very few exceptions all movement as begin with a backwards motion. for example in performing a low section block, your blocking forearm goes back first then forwards. Once this is in motion it should not stop until reaching the target.

What is Connecting Motion?

Connecting motion refers to two movements, generally one natural and one normal like number 16 & 17 in Yul-Gok, which are performed in a connected way, with one single sine wave movement and only one breath which starts very softly in the first movement and end short and powerful in the last.

What is Stamping Motion?

This is used to accentuate the hip movement and increase the mass of attack. The attackers foot is raised to knee level before rapidly bring it to the floor in a stamping motion.

Give a list and explain warnings  in sparring:

  1. Pretending to have scored a point by raising one or both arms
  2. Stepping completely out of the ring with both feet.
  3. Loss of balance, falling down, intentionally or unintentionally
  4. Faking a blow, pretending to be injured to gain advantage
  5. Intentionally avoiding sparring (turning your back on your opponent for a longer period of time)
  6. Adjusting equipment without permission of centre referee
  7. Unintentional attack to illegal target area (below the belt, back, back of the head)

3 warnings = -1 point

List and explain fouls (minus 1 point) in sparring:

  1. Heavy contact
  2. Attacking a fallen opponent
  3. Leg sweeping
  4. Holding/Grabbing
  5. Intentional attack to illegal target area
  6. Unsportsmanlike conduct

3 fouls = disqualification

What offences will cause a referee to disqualify a competitor during sparring?

  1. Misconduct against officials or ignoring instructions
  2.  Uncontrolled excessive contact
  3. Receiving 3 minus points/fouls directly form the centre referee
  4. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  5. Loss of temper
  6. Insulting an opponent, coach or official
  7. Biting, scratching
  8. Attacking with knee, elbow or forehead
  9. Causing your opponent to lose consciousness



These are not questions with must have definitive answers but rather to be used as a reality check on your current progress in the training. They will he

lp you determine how Taekwon-Do has helped you personally.

1. Have you trained hard for this grading and explain how you have done so ?

2. What areas of the classes or what part of Taekwon-Do do you find the most enjoyable and why is this ?

3. What part of Taekwon-Do do you dislike and explain why ?

4. What would you most like to improve on ?

5. If you are promoted to the next grade or belt today how will it affect your progress ?

6. How has Taekwon-Do helped you since you started?

These six questions are worth knowing for your own development, not just for a grading !

If you train yourself to be a life long learner you will also never tire of learning and developing your Taekwon-Do skills. One of the great aspects of Taekwon-Do is that you can train anywhere at anytime. This combination of always learning and training will develop discipline and a strong inner spirit throughout your life.

Tell your friends that they do not have to be fit to start and that their confidence will grow week by week. Their first class is free and they can join by calling your instructor and say that you recommended that they have a free lesson.

Never criticize Taekwon-Do or any other martial art or any other instructor on any platform.


Who are the Taekwondo Governing Bodies?

The I.T.A. is the Irish Taekwon-do Association. With over 100 schools throughout the country the ITA is the largest Taekwon-Do Association in Ireland. Known as the ITA  the President is Master Kenneth Wheatley an 8th Degree Black Belt. He heads up the association as they strive to offer the best standard of Taekwon-Do in Ireland to help children and teenagers of all ages, races, cultures and creeds. This is achieved through technical seminars, gradings, instructor training courses, student summer camps and much more. The I.T.A. is further affiliated to the International Taekwon-Do Federation, more commonly known as the ITF and is also a Government and Sports Council approved organisation.  All our instructors are Garda vetted, First Aid qualified, Level 1 IMAC trained with the Irish Martial Arts Commission and all coaches have Child Protection Certification.

The Irish Taekwon-Do Association (ITA) is the national association for ITF Taekwon-Do in Ireland. The ITA is part of the Irish Martial Arts Commission (IMAC), the Sport Ireland recognised national governing body for martial arts in Ireland. This gives ITA instructors, members and clubs access to coach education, safeguarding guidance, anti-doping and a host of other benefits only available to IMAC members.

ITA instructors are Sport Coaching Ireland qualified, Garda vetted, first aid trained, have adequate insurance cover in place and abide by the IMAC /Sport Ireland policies in relation to safeguarding.

The ITA is also affiliated to the World Governing body, the ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) which gives us access to World Class international events

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