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Putin receives honorary 9th Dan from Dr Choue

Putin receives honorary 9th Dan from Dr Choue

Russian President Vladimir Putin was awarded honorary taekwondo grandmaster status Wednesday, making for an impressively immediate achievement in a sport he is not known to practice.
World Taekwondo Federation chief Choue Chung-won presented a black belt and a diploma signifying the much-coveted ninth Dan ranking to Putin during an official visit by the Russian leader to South Korea.
By way of comparison, famed US martial artist Chuck Norris, who sparred with Bruce Lee in the 1972 movie Way of the Dragon, holds an eighth Dan in taekwondo.
Although Putin does not do taekwondo, he does regularly practice judo, despite his 61 years. His work to promote the sport earned him an eighth Dan from the International Judo Federation a year ago.
A Dan is a level of proficiency on a scale that ranges from one to ten.
Putin, who was in the Korean capital, Seoul, to promote a pet project for a new Asian-European rail trade route, accepted the title modestly.
“I don’t think I have earned such a high Dan,” he said, promising that Russia would strive to contribute to the development of martial arts.
Putin was judo champion of his home town Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, in his youth and starred in the instructional video “Let’s Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin” in 2008.
Judo and taekwondo are the only martial arts in the Olympic Games program. An estimated 70 to 80 million people practice taekwondo in over 200 countries around the globe.
Many world leaders and celebrities have been bestowed with honorary titles in martial arts, including US President Barack Obama, who received a taekwondo black belt from his then-South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak in 2009. Others recipients of the honor include the leaders of Pakistan, Indonesia, Honduras, Croatia and Spain.


  1. Andrew Waldron

    I have practiced Taekwondo WTF and ITF for over 30 years, yet I’m recognised as 3rd Dan TKD and 4th Dan Freestyle Karate. WTF Taekwondo I had to retake my black belt after some years out and going to ITF, then the WTF would recognise my 3rd Dan, time locking me now for my 4th… Yet I see they’re giving them away. This is insulting after all the years of dedication and cost myself and others have dedicated to the advancement of this art and WTF. I think this is bad for the sport.

    • mark

      I agree this is an insult to taekwondo (i am a measly yellowbelt in ITF teakwondo), but i have earned what i got.
      This is sadly a south korean thing, there is a reason General choi (founder of TkD) left south korea for canada and the us. This is because of the corruption of the gov appointing a leader of taekwondo (which is how wtf was started).
      Taewhondo rankings should not be used as a political tool.

  2. Shankar

    It is just a honorific black belt. I don’t think it will mean anything after he is not the president anymore. It is given more to the position than the person.

  3. WTF Sa Dan

    I have almost 30 years in WTF and some ITF, and I agree that this is inappropriate and a slight to those who train daily.
    Putin is a judo practioner and should receive rank in that discipline.
    I am not happy with this dishonorable rank promotion.


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