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Taekwon-Do Belt Colours and Their Meanings

Updated on September 15, 2010
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Glendon and his wife have led church ministries, conducted empowerment seminars, and travelled to faraway places on business and vacation.

Okay you have been a white belt like forever and now you want to be graded so that you can be promoted in belt rank. Well you need to know the belt colours and meaning so here goes.

Remember that that the belt colours progress along white, yellow stripe (or tag), yellow, green stripe, green, blue stripe, blue, red stripe, red, black stripe, black,

The stripe (or tag) is one grading level upward and introduces you to some of the patterns and moves of the higher solid colour.

Now to the casual reader the culture of belt colours might appear very mundane, but believe me that for the martial arts practitioner, it's not a mole hill, it's the mountain. 

So You Are a White Belt. What's Next?

Taekwon-Do is a military art and the discipline is very strict. The student does not determine when he or she is ready for grading, the instructor will decide. Let’s now discover the meaning of the colours as well as some ideas of the grading.

What do we signify by the plain old colourless woven cotton at your waist in your white belt dsays? Well, you would do well to recite at the grading that it signifies the innocence of the beginning student of taekwon-do. At the white belt test you are expected to know the answers to questions like Where does Taekwondo come from?

The white belt student needs to cover patterns saju jurugi and saju makgi. And should demonstrate among other things Sitting Stance - Front Punch x 10, counted in Korean (Anun So Ap Jirugi).

Next comes the yellow stripe test which covers defensive and offensive moves as well as three step sparring. And that first pattern for beginners, Chon Ji.

Chon-Ji means heaven and earth and refers to the beginning of human history, therefore it is the initial pattern played by the beginner.

Yellow belt signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Taekwon-do foundation is being laid. When I think of this one I wondered if the soil in Korea is yellow. I mean, if taekwon-do came from a place with red soil or black soil would the colour progression vary? Just a thought.

Just by way of example, at the yellow belt grading you are expected to demonstrate among other things, more defensive and offensive moves as well as the the Dan Gun pattern.

Author:  Serdelll. Source:  Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Serdelll. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Taekwon-Do Green Belt All the Way to Black Belt

Nature inspires the farmer and the warrior. Green in a sense points us to the wisdom found in the natural environment. It resembles the growth of the plant as taekwon-do skills begin to develop. The figure of speech is very agricultural, with this philosophical respect for the natural world.

We are moving from earth to sky in colours so the blue belt represents the heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree.

Red belt is a sign of danger. This one does not surprise me since the colour red is an almost universal symbol for danger. The student is cautioned to exercise self-control. It also warns the opponent to stay away. Interestingly, we appear to be back on the farm since red is also the colour of the first fruits. Black belt signifies the student’s maturity and proficiency. Note that there are nine degrees in this belt rank. The tenth is only awarded posthumously.

Students of martial arts are continuously motivated by the prospect of moving up in rank. There is always something more to achieve.


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