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?

  • 1
    Wigwam, who is currently downvoted at -1. He is completely correct pursuant to the new rules for Dan promotion written as of May 2016. Downvote him all you want, or go and read the new regulations, because his information is 100% correct and spot on
    – Ryan
    Oct 8 '18 at 15:48
  • Great, can you cite a reference for this? For example kukkiwon.or.kr/english/examination/examination08.jsp doesn't state anything about "At a minimum, three to ten people must promote" nor the requirement to be a "A Kukkiwon-certified instructor" nor "6th dan or higher". Again, I'm happy to change my understanding, I regularly attend Kukkiwon courses to try to ensure I'm up to date - but I'd need a reference to the correct information not just the opinion of "some guy off the internet". Oct 9 '18 at 21:35
  • If you're referring to kukkiwon.or.kr/front/pageView.action?cmd=/eng/evaluate/… then remember these only apply to MNAs that run open dan testing, and don't apply to individual master instructors recommending their own students after dan testing. Oct 9 '18 at 21:36
  • In the link, Article 6, bullet 3 indicates "(3) Promotion tests should be composed of three to ten members and they must be arranged so that they may easily view the testee's performance". Article 1 and 2 explain the 6th dan qualifications (now 7th). But no mention is made about open testing - even in tests which appear to be private still adhere to these guidelines - number of instructors, rank, paperwork, age and time... all of it. Facility features is usually what is not always optimal. And I've never seen a doctor present.
    – Andrew Jay
    Oct 10 '18 at 11:59
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    And the exceptions are that individual masters of 4th Dan or above can promote their own students without needing a panel, all they need to do is apply to be a KMS member. Source: Poom/Dan Examiner Course Austria 2015 ;-) Oct 16 '18 at 12:38

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)

  • 2
    Please note - there are changes coming in next year that will change this - with a lot of anger at the new rules from a lot of the international community. Oct 26 '15 at 14:07
  • Considering that you edited this 2 years after your initial comment, does the comment still apply?
    – JohnP
    Apr 2 '20 at 15:24

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:

  • A Kukkiwon-certified instructor
  • 6th dan or higher

There must be:

  • The 3-10 members to oversee the test, which may or may not include you
  • A place to conduct the test, in accordance with KKW regulations
    • If testing < 6th dan, you can do it locally
    • If testing >= 6th dan, you do it at a certified WTF facility
  • A doctor on-hand

You must be:

  • Able to submit your student's application to your member national association (in the US, that would be Team USA Taekwondo, and you'd submit the application to the president's office, currently is Keith Ferguson who is executive director. It is likely he'll refer you to your state association. In my case, that would be in NJ, and the contact is Kevin Vigneri)

USA Taekwondo

US State Associations

Student must be:

  • Within age and time guidelines

Student must do:

  • Perform:
    • poomsae (forms) - which ones depend on dan test
    • kyrogi (sparring)
    • kyukpa (breaking) - power
    • special techniques (fancy kicks, self-defense, creative form, creative breaking... whatever instructors want)
  • Depending on the dan test, may have written exam and/or submit thesis
  • Pass a health examination by doctor
  • Score 60% or better in each category, by majority of test overseers


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.

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    I don't understand how you can say these rules have been in place for years. There's no documentation of these rules on the Kukkiwon site. If you believe official documents exist, please show them. You've given links to USA websites (and those may be the rules in USA), but the question was asked about Kukkiwon (global) rules. I've attended the Master Instructor course and Poom/Dan Examiner course (certificates on my website at stevenagetaekwondo.co.uk/instructors) and I've promoted many people to black belt and beyond without needing a panel (or ever being told I needed one). Sep 22 '17 at 6:52
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    Even USAT's Dan Promotion Guidelines (go.teamusa.org/2wERdNl) say "1.4. Those testing for 1st through 3rd Dan must test with their current Instructor." - no mention of a panel, no mention of a 6th Dan minimum for the examiner. Certainly no mention of a "certified WTF facility" - what the heck even is that, there are no certified WTF facilities, the WT (ex. WTF) is the "International Federation (IF) governing the sport of Taekwondo" worldtaekwondo.org/about-wt/about-wt and has nothing to do with Dan promotions. Again, please cite your sources or this is just your opinion of rules Sep 22 '17 at 7:00
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    "There's no documentation of these rules on the Kukkiwon site." Yes, there certainly is. Here is the link, it is the official Kukkiwon site. kukkiwon.or.kr/front/pageView.action?cmd=/eng/evaluate/…
    – Andrew Jay
    Sep 23 '17 at 12:28
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    Article 6, 5th bullet: Those who have acquired an instructor certificate of 4th Dan and above may make recommendations for Poom or Dan promotion below their level.
    – Andrew Jay
    Sep 23 '17 at 12:28
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    Article 11: Must be 6th dan or higher, must have 3 to 5 (not 10, a recent change), and can be adjusted based on testing features
    – Andrew Jay
    Sep 23 '17 at 12:28

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