What is a Taekwondo Belt?
A taekwondo belt acts as proof of a certain level of competence in the art achieved by the holder. The ranks, however, are not standardized. Many people are mistaken that there is only one universal belt system in taekwondo, but in reality, there are many.
Typically, belt holders in taekwondo can be divided into two sections — juniors and seniors. In Dojangs, which is what formal training halls are called, these are colloquially referred to as “colored belts” and “black belts.”
Colored belts can range from white, which is the lowest rank, to red or brown depending on the ranking system. The belt colors can be solid or include a color stripe. What this means is, if the next solid color after white was yellow, you’d be promoted in the order — white, white with yellow stripe, and then yellow.
Taekwondo Belt Colors
White Belt — Everyone starts out as a taekwondo white belt. Even your instructor was a white belt once! Your white belt symbolizes innocence. It’s the first and most important step of your taekwondo journey. You don’t usually have to do a test to get a white belt. It’s part of your first taekwondo uniform or Dobok. To get to yellow belt you often have 2 gradings, where your first grading gives you a yellow stripe and the next grading you get your yellow belt.
Yellow Belt — In most schools your next taekwondo belt is yellow belt. Your yellow belt represents the earth. In which the roots of your taekwondo form ready for a beautiful plant to grow. To get to green belt you usually have to do 2 gradings, similar to white belt though you gain a green stripe/tag on your belt.
Green Belt — The next of the taekwondo belt colors is usually green belt though some places may have orange. The green color represents the plant (your taekwondo) starting to grow from the earth. To attain your blue belt, again you have 2 gradings usually where you attain a blue stripe and you are half way to your blue belt!
*Useful tip* –As you gain more belts and stripes, usually the time you have to train between each grading increases! This is to make sure you have enough training and are not only physically, but mentally ready before you are ready to receive the next belt/stripe.
Blue Belt — Next is taekwondo blue belt. Your blue belt represents the sky or heaven. Your taekwondo skills are growing strong. Like a tall plant or tree growing up towards the blue sky. To receive your next red belt you have to get a red stripe on your belt before grading again to obtain your red belt.
Red Belt — The next of the taekwondo belts is taekwondo red belt. Red is for danger. At this stage the student is becoming very skilled in their taekwondo. But may have more to learn about self-control. Usually only 2 gradings away from your blackbelt!
Black Belt — And finally there’s taekwondo black belt. A black belt represents maturity. A good level of skill in taekwondo. And rejection of darkness and fear.
Grading – Getting Your Next Taekwondo belt
Have you heard the expression kup (or gup) grade?
It means a taekwondo colored belt. So students wearing belts like white, yellow, green, blue or red are kup grade students.
A taekwondo student wearing a white belt is a 10th kup student.
And a student one grade away from black belt is a 1st kup.
A student wearing a taekwondo black belt is known as a Dan grade if they are over 16 years. Or a Poomse grade if they are under 16.
Black belts start at 1st Dan (or 1st Degree) and heading towards 9th Dan.
To move from taekwondo white belt to the next grade and on to each of the tkd belts after that you take a taekwondo belt test or grading.
This is an exam to see if you are ready to wear the next belt.
You are assessed on basics. Taekwondo patterns or poomse. Taekwondo sparring. Self defense. Breaking. Fitness. Etiquette. And of course Spirit.
If that sounds like a lot remember this…
…if it’s your first grading you are not expected to do what a red belt can do!
And if your instructor has put you in for the grading… then he or she thinks you are ready.
How Long To Taekwondo Black Belt?
When people start training they often want to know how long and how fast…
How fast will I work through the taekwondo belts? When do I get my red belt? And how long is it to black belt?
These are really hard questions to answer. Because no two people are the same and no two Dojangs are the same. Some people are naturally athletic and flexible, they train and practice many times each week and they grade faster.
Others don’t find it so easy and can only train for a few hours each week. So they grade slower. Some trainers concentrate on smaller sections of the syllabus. And others teach a very wide range of skills. Obviously if the syllabus is wider?… Your black belt takes longer.
Here’s a generalization. If you train hard and you have some natural skill and fitness, you can get your body into black belt shape in 2-3 years. However, to build the mind of a black belt may take a lot longer than this… It’s important to realize this is your journey of self improvement. A journey you take at your own pace.
Keep walking the path… And you’ll get there when the time is right for you.