What are the rules set by the Kukkiwon on who can promote others to black belt ranks (Dan for 15 years old and over, Poom for under 15 years old)?
Can individual instructors do it?
The Kukkiwon splits all the countries in the world into two categories, depending on whether that Member National Association (MNA) for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in that country controls over 70% of Taekwondo groups and instructors. Those that do are considered to be in the "1st Category" and recommendations can only be made by the President of the MNA in that country. South Korea is a good example of a 1st Category country.
In countries outside of that category, the Kukkiwon requires instructors to be a 4th Dan or above. They encourage all instructors to register with their Kukkiwon Membership System and process the dan applications online. Dan applications can be done up to one grade below the instructor's rank, except for 8th/9th Dan which must be taken at the Kukkiwon in South Korea.
Instructors meeting this criteria can also test students for coloured belt ranks (Kup) and can process Dan Assimilation requests (crossing over Taekwondo Dan from another organisation) and Single Jump Dan requests (where a person has had sufficient time in grade to have achieved two dan grades higher than they are now, they can be tested for the higher rank and pay for both). Multiple Jump dan (where they have time in grade to be three or more ranks higher) can only be tested for at the Kukkiwon or at a Kukkiwon Special Dan test.
The Kukkiwon doesn't allow instructors below 4th Dan to test anyone for rank.
Source: Kukkiwon regulations, Kukkiwon Master Training Course (2013), Kukkiwon Poom/Dan Examiner Course (2015), Kukkiwon Master Training Course (2016)
In tae kwon do, the rules are simple. You must be at least an instructor, and you must be at least 1 degree above the rank you are testing your student to. For example. I am a 5th Dan, therefore I can test a student up to 4th Dan, but before that student may test to 5th Dan, you must either have a 6th Dan, or higher at a minimum watching your testing and certifying that your student has met the requirements to pass the test.
No, you cannot typically test an applicant alone. At a minimum, three to ten people must promote. Read on:
They must be:
There must be:
You must be:
Student must be:
Student must do:
There are other ways to promote a student in Kukkiwon, or have TeamUSA recognize your student as a dan rank.
If your student is a dan rank in the styles of ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) or ATA (American Taekwondo Association), then, that student may fill out paperwork and send (with $50) to the US National Dan Program, which will attest to your student's dan rank, and allow your student to be recognized up to 4th dan for purposes of WTF-sanctioned event competition. This is not Kukkiwon-recognized, and, WTF schools may choose not to accept this; however, the individual may still compete in WTF events (except, not Olympics). This alternative is only available in the USA, however other countries may have similar alternatives.
If your student is a dan rank in Kukkiwon-overseen styles, such as from fraternal Kwan organizations (eg, Chung Do Kwan), or from Tang Soo Do organizations, or from a school not run by a Kukkiwon certified instructor, then there is a special administrative process to get your dan rank from that organization or school to transfer to Kukkiwon.
Note: There are always exceptions, and that depends on your instructor's involvement with TeamUSA, WT, Kukkiwon, rank, and other criteria. That is why this alternative exists:
Your student can also do it by him/herself, online. There are some online methods (for example, http://www.taekwonwoo.net) for attaining dan rank. While I think this is a scam, it is legitimate, and because of the way Kukkiwon and WTF work world-wide, such a student would have to be accepted... everywhere.
While this last option is a gross affront to those who have to go through the gauntlet everyone else has to go through, there is nothing stopping you (as an instructor) from coaching your protege through this online process. This makes the concept of online promotion a little easier to go down than castor oil, especially if you have a talented student but who has no means to go through the traditional means of attaining dan rank.