Hierarchy of Instructors and Black Belts

Hello Everyone

Today’s blog is about the hierarchy of Instructors and Black Belts in Taekwondo. I had an adult Taekwondo student out of general curiosity and for their own personal knowledge ask me what the hierarchy of the instructors’ spot in the class line up, and how it worked. I also realize that most people are wondering the same thing.So here it is.

At our dojang the head instructor of that particular class stands at the front of the class facing the students. The students line up from highest rank to lowest rank in front of the instructor starting at the instructor’s left side moving down the ranks to the instructors’s right. So for example if there was 10 students in class with 3 red belts, 3 blue belts, 3 yellow belts and 1 white belt the order would go like this.  Front Line: Red, Red, Red, Blue, Blue  Black Line: Blue, Yellow, Yellow, Yellow, White   Now if their was a second instructor helping teach class then that instructor would stand to the left of the front line in the assistant/instructor spot. If there was a third instructor in class helping teach then they would line up behind the second instructor and to the left of the back line. So the line of command for that class would be the main structor is first in command, the second instructor is second in command, and the third instructor is third in command. Also at my school only the black belts are only allowed to stand in these spots.

As far as the ranks goes for Black Belts the highest rank in that school most commonly the owner of the dojang is first command. They are in charge of overseeing all Black Belts and Colour Belts. I am gonna use my dojang for example. I hold a 5th Dan Black Belt but so does Master Joyce. I out rank her because I own the school granted she has been in Taekwondo a few years longer and is of older age than I. If I didn’t won Cobourg Tae Kwon Do then she would out rank me. Now we have two 4th Dan Masters here at our dojang too. Master Gayle would out rank Master Richard as she has held 4th Dan longer and is currently training for her 5th Dan grading in May 2012. Next we got some 2nd degree black belts here as well. Sir Jeff would out rank Sir Reilly, Sir Brodie, or Sir Ismael as he is an adult 2nd degree black belt versus a junior second degree black belt. Now for our 1st degreess,Sir Ryan, Sir Luke or Sir Liam would out rank Ma’am Mikaela and Sir Liam because they are older. We also got several black belts and the adults out rank the juniors. We got several more black belts and higher ranks but these are just a few examples. Way too many to list here at this time.

So in a nutshell a 5th degree outranks a 4th degree, a 3rd degree outranks a 2nd degree, a 2nd degree outranks a 1st degree, a 1st degree outranks a black belt,  and a black belt outranks a colour belt. Adult black belts will outrank the junior black belts.

Another thing to take in consideration as well as what you call them. Different schools have slightly different ways of doing this. The two I have seen are that you call the Black Belts and Instructors Sir or Ma’am, or Mr. and Ms. I have always be taught to cal the higher ranks Sir or Ma’am. So Jacob for example who is a black belt here would be called Sir or Sir Jacob or Mikaela who is a 1st degree would be called Ma’am or Ma’am Mikaela. Master Joyce or Master Gayle would be called Master or Ma’am with or without their names mentioned after. Master Richard and myself would be referred to Master Richard, Master Jonathan, Master, or Sir.

Some more on what to call the instructors. Master or master of the school is known as Kwan Jan Nim in Korean. An instructor is Sa Buhm Nim in Korean. A more personal name for a instructor in Korean is Soo Buhm Nim. Also as far as competition teams goes the more experience instructors, black belts, and students are higher up the line of command. And Black Belts are called upon in class more to lead exercises and demonstrate new techniques as they are the ones that show be able to do it properly and give an positive example for everyone else to follow.

Okay now this all seems like everyone is just trying to climb the ranks to be the one in charge and have more respect granted to them. This is quite the opposite. Higher ranks just lets everyone else know that that person has more knowledge and can help teach lower ranks. Also regardless of rank at my school everyone is referred to Sir or Ma’am to show mutual respect because at the end of the day we are all still basically human, We all brush our teeth the same. We all have feelings. We all feel love and pain.

I hope this gives everyone a good idea of the whole ranking system and line of command. If you got any questions let me know.

Master Jonthan Field

ISKA World Champion
3 Time WBA World Champion
Cobourg Tae Kwon Do Ltd.
271 Spring Street
Cobourg Ontario K9A 3K3
905-373-0032 1-800-957-6025

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