Graduations are a way for you to demonstrate that you have learnt the syllabus content for any particular period. They are not compulsory but are the way in which you gain your next belt & move along the journey towards your Black Belt & beyond. Your Instructor will be able to tell you if you have reached the required level & attended enough classes.
Do you have to Graduate? Well, 'not if you don’t want to'. However, if you want to achieve anything significant in life, you need to set yourself goals - those smaller steps towards a bigger target. We talk about this in the Leadership Book in sections such as ‘Strategy’ & ‘Planning’. In martial arts, that target will often be ‘get to Black Belt’ - the goals are therefore progression through the coloured belts awarded at Graduations.
All students should be guided by the advice of their Instructor. Remember, they have already gone through all the graduations ahead of you and so have a wealth of experience in this area! If they say you should go to graduation, then it will be because they think you are good enough.
But it’s not up to your instructors to get you to any given level - it is up to YOU. Yes, you will need competent instruction, but you have to walk the path - you need to ‘do the doing’. Tang Soo Do means Way of the Hand of China/Tang and so there is a path to be walked and you will be guided/led down it, but not dragged along it. ‘Teaching’ and ‘learning’ in martial arts works much the same way as in other areas - someone will do a lot of teaching, but you have to do a lot of learning, so be an active learner. My point is that it is up to you - if you want to achieve a certain target, you will need to work actively towards that goal.
For most people on the outside looking in, a belt looks like something that holds your uniform (Do Bok) together, but we understand what it means and how hard we have worked to achieve it. We also understand how it has helped us in our everyday lives.
So, will you be a Superhero?