Taekwondo Belts In Order Of Color: Basic Guide

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art characterized by an emphasis on head-height knocks, jumping, spinning kicks and fast kicking techniques. Developed in the 1940s, it combines elements of karate, Chinese martial arts and traditional Korean martial arts as Taekkyeon and subak.

Ranks vary from the style to style and are not standardized.

Students and practitioners wear belts ranging in colors from white (lowest) to black (highest). Colors of the belts may be solid or with stripes.

To advance from one rank to the next, a student will complete a set of promotional tests to demonstrate proficiency in aspects of taekwondo art.

The colors differ from school to school. However the common color ranks for the belts in ascending order are as follows:

1. White Belt

A white belt signifies a birth or the genesis of a seed.

No test is required for this belt. This color white symbolizes the student’s innocence and ignorance of taekwondo. You are classified here as 10th Gup.

As a white belt student, you are a beginner searching for knowledge of taekwondo art. To move to the next rank, you must achieve the white belt with yellow stripes with a taekwondo practitioner or constructor.

 You will be required to:

  • Carry out predetermined pattern
  • Go thru three step and one step sparring process
  • Defend yourself and break free successfully using kicks or blows
  • The Duration for a white belt is typically 2-3 months.

2. Yellow Belt (or Sach)

Yellow is the first full color. Its present is an indication of some foundational knowhow in taekwondo.

This step is also referred as 9th Gup. It is the only step that is sometimes skipped for fast learning students.

Promotion to yellow is similar to promotion with white with yellow stripes, with:

  • A different pattern
  • Breaking of boards with both hands and feet

 A student from yellow belt can proceed to yellow with green stripped belt

  • The pattern from previous test change
  • Breaking two inch board with the hand and one inch with feet.
  • A one-step sparing is required.

As a yellow belt student, you will be given your first ray of knowledge to open your mind from your instructors.

3. Green Belt

From yellow with green stripes to a solid green belt .Green signifies, sprouting, the growth of the seed from the earth towards the sun .You will learn to refire and strength your techniques.

The milestone here is experience.

For the solid green belt the following tests are mandatory:

  • A test with another pattern
  • A one-step spa
  • A free style spa

Passing this tests will take you to the next level. Unfortunately most people never make past this point.

4. Blue Belt

Blue represent the sky color which the plant reaches as it matures.

 At this point your taekwondo foundation is firm .You are prepared to begin advanced techniques and theories.

 As a blue belt student, you move higher in the rank just like the plant grows taller. More taekwondo knowledge of art is given to you for the growth and development of body and mind, just as the plant is fed by light in to more growth.

Test to attain the blue is similar green with blue stripes.

  • Practice another pattern
  • Defend yourself against both holds and clubs
  • Break a two- inch board with hands and one-inch board using a jump kick
  • Undertake the one-step sparring and free sparring
  • In addition anew different pattern and an additional two-step sparring
  • Break a two-inch board with a punch
  • Break a one-inch board with a punch
  • Break a one-inch board with a turn kick

To achieve the blue with red stripes, finesse is key. You will be required to:

  • Defend yourself against holds, clubs and knives
  • Defend yourself against multiple unarmed opponents
  • Break two-inch board with a punch and a turn lick

In order to be able to achieve the blue belt with red stripes, you will take around five months.

5. Red Belt

The student of taekwondo at red belt is knowledgeable enough to be dangerous. Red signifies danger or the red –hot heat of the sun signaling the need to take control. The student at this level is skillful enough to course harm yet you can lose yourself in the skill. Thus the need to manage and use what you have positively.

The tests to gain promotion along with anew pattern will include:

  • Multiple sparring (replacing the two step sparring)
  • Break a three inch board with any kick
  • All the tests in blue belt and blue belt with red stripes

The red belt with black stripes has an additional test of; breaking two three-inch boards.

Five months is the duration it would take you to achieve this.

6. Black Belt

It’s the darkness beyond the sun. A black belt signifies profound knowledge of taekwondo. It’s the highest achievable rank that requires a lot of work.

The following tests must be adequately achieved:

  • One step sparring
  • Two step sparring
  • Free sparring and multiple free sparring
  • Defend against holds, clubs, knives, unarmed opponent
  • Break three –inch board with any kick or blow

Due to the complexity of the skills in the black belt, it’s achieved under subcategories each with a distinct feature as outlined below:

  • Black belt (1st degree): It takes 3-5 years to get here.
  • Novice black belt (1st -3rd degree): The student is considered an assistant instructor.  You will be addressed as Bo- sabum.
  • Expert black belt (4th -5th degree): to get here, it’ll take you around 9-10 years. More specialization is done. You are considered as an instructor and addressed as Sabum.
  • Masters black (7th-8th degree): You have been active for close to 30 years at this level.  You no longer compete in tournaments.  No more tests.  You are a teacher of other black belts. And you’re referred to as Sa-Hoyong or Master Instructor.
  • Grand master (9th degree): It’s the ultimate rank in taekwondo. Very few chosen in the world have achieved this status. You are referred to as The Grand Master or Sa-Song.

Final Word

The ultimate philosophy of taekwondo is to bring students to a level of consciousness.

It occurs when you tune yourself with nature.

At this level nothing in life can upset you. Everybody is capable of coordinating himself with the forces in life perfectly irrespective of your belt.

Hard work and discipline will see you go up the ranks.

The most perfect principle of taekwondo is that the higher your rank is, the more humble and self-awareness you poses.

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