Recently, there has been some controversy at the Tae Kwon Do club that I am currently training at with respect to time-served belt promotion requirements, and I wanted to pose this question to those individuals on this forum that run their own club or are involved with the structural aspects of the club they belong to. Of course, thoughts from any of you are also welcomed and appreciated.

For the most part, requirements for belt promotion vary widely from club to club, and the quality of students vary equally as much. In the end, the colour of cloth the person ties around their waist speaks little about their actual ability in the absence of observing them train, but I digress.

Most clubs that I have trained at across several martial arts styles have had some variation of a "time-served" requirement; however, most of them have also embraced the fact that as far as skills go, all students cannot be considered as equal. Some require more than the standard amount of time to reach the expected degree of proficiency for belt promotion while others reach it much sooner than the standard. Experience in similar styles of the martial art will mean a student will progress much faster than someone who is completely new. Someone who does judo will pick up BJJ faster than someone who does karate, but someone who does karate will pick up tae kwon do faster than someone who does judo.

So my question, or questions, are really these:

- Would you hold a person back by virtue of time-served alone even if it's evident they are proficient enough to move forward?

- Do you consider prior martial arts experience when someone joins your club when placing them in a class (for instance, beginner, intermediate or advanced), or is that irrelevant? Why or why not?

- For those in the area of tae kwon do, how would you handle a situation where someone with a black belt in tae kwon do, but from a different organization joins your club? For instance a black belt from ITF starting WTF, or a black belt from WTF starting Song Moo Kwan, or vice versa, etc.? Do they start at white belt, do they start as a black belt, do they start somewhere in between? What is the rationale for your response?

- Is "time-served" set in stone, or is the fitness level, prior athletic experience, natural ability, rate of learning, etc. an important thing to consider?

The situation I am specifically referring to is an individual with 14 years of experience in Tae Kwon Do recently took and passed their belt promotion from black stripe to double black stripe (the belt before black belt at my club) two months after their last belt test. This individual has a black belt in Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do, but was forced to switch styles several years ago because it isn't taught in very many locations. The club they originally started before joining my club asked them to start at purple belt (the half way point), which they did. It has been three years since. They passed their belt test and no-one questions their ability, yet the manager of another location of the same club (there are three locations of the club I belong to) is really upset they were permitted to take their belt promotion test after only two months.

I'm not sure where I stand on the issue and I wanted to gauge the general consensus in the martial arts community.

Thanks in advance!