The term Black Belt Club is used by some taekwondo schools as a special designation for students who have committed to eventually achieving Black Belt status. Despite the name, the term Black Belt Club does not generally refer to students who have already achieved Black Belt status.
Different schools implement Black Belt clubs differently, but some common characteristics include:
- Being a member of the Black Belt Club often involves paying an additional fee, or committing to a longer-term contract for study. For example, students who enroll in the Black Belt Club might be required to sign a three-year contract, i.e., to continue paying for taekwondo classes for three years.
- There is often a percentage reduction in other fees, such as uniform costs or test costs.
- Black Belt Club members often get to attend additional classes and/or get to attend special Club-only classes.
- Black Belt Club members often have the option to purchase special uniforms that designate the student as member of the club.
The idea of the Black Belt Club is that students in the club will receive additional instruction or extra attention from the instructors, since the student has made a long-term commitment to study taekwondo. Special Club-only classes often have fewer students in the class, meaning that students may receive more one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Because of the extra attention, Black Belt Club members might advance more quickly through the belts, or develop better form.
In many taekwondo schools, Black Belt Clubs are often populated primarily by younger students whose parents want the the child to remain in taekwondo study for a prolonged period.
Some pundits feel that Black Belt Clubs are just another way for taekwondo schools to "take your money." I.e., you don't need to join a club (with all the associated extra fees and contracts) to keep studying taekwondo, so why pay extra money for something you could do anyway on your own? In principle, however, if one knows for sure that one will wish to stick with taekwondo study in the future, membership in the Black Belt Club could result in lower costs, depending on the fee structure of the school.
Another criticism is that "just because you study for X number of years, that doesn't guarantee that you'll ever be good enough to become a Black Belt." Indeed, most taekwondo schools do not guarantee that you will be a Black Belt at the end of the contract. In this sense, the term Black Belt Club may be a poorly-chosen term. In practice however, it's very common for most students to achieve a 1st Dan Black Belt within 2 or 3 years of taekwond study; so in practice most students who join the Black Belt Club usually do achieve a the goal.