Taekwondo Belt System (Ultimate Guide)

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There are a lot of Taekwondo practitioners out there who are often getting confused about the Taekwondo Belt. Are you one of them? Well, this article will help you sort out this issue.

The biggest misconception among people is that there is one single Taekwondo belt system that is universal. This is not true, as there are plenty of different Taekwondo belt systems out there.

One of the main reasons behind this huge diversity in the belt system is that there are many different Taekwondo organizations out there that function autonomously. Therefore, the type of belt system that is being used in your school depends on what organization it has affiliated itself with.

In this article, we will discuss the three main organizations that are regulating Taekwondo. We will also be taking a look at all the different belts, the levels they represent, the best one among them, and the color levels.

Let’s start with the main topic of our discussion:

How many Taekwondo belts are there?

Like we mentioned earlier, it varies from organization to organization. Each has its own unique number of belts. However, if we look at the average figure, it is somewhat close to 8 to 10 belts in each organization.

Let’s dive in and learn about the three main organizations and all of their belts.

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What are the color levels in Taekdonwdo Belts?

Depending on the organization, there is a wide variety of color levels in Taekwondo belts, including white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black. Each color symbolizes a unique trait that represents all the students who have earned these belts.

Every color has a meaning attached to it and has been picked accordingly.

Let us start with the color levels of belts of the largest Taekwondo organization out there:

1. International Taekwondo Federation

The International Taekwondo Federation or the ITF is the largest and considered the leading international body governing taekwondo. It has been in existence for a very long time and has been very influential in the Taekwondo world.

The ITF is based fundamentally on the Taekwondo self-defense style.

The Taekwondo schools that are affiliated with this federation have Geups which means in Korean ranks. There are in total ten different Geups, and upon completion, there are 9 Dans in the next tier.

In Korea, degrees that represent black belt rank practitioners are called “Dans.”

Here is the complete list of all of the Geups found in this federation:

10th Geup: White Taekwondo Belt

The white color represents the pure and empty nature of the amateur mind who does not know anything about Taekwondo. That is because most of the individuals who are new to the art of Taekwondo don’t know how to control their bodies or mind.

9th Geup: Yellow Taekwondo Stripe

Before a student can be finally considered a Yellow Belt, he or she first has to go through this intermediate period between a complete beginner and a yellow stripe owner. 

8th Geup: Yellow Taekwondo Belt 

The color yellow represents that “a seed has been planted.” At this level, the student starts to learn the fundamentals of Taekwondo. The color yellow is inspired by the rising morning sun, a time when it had just begun to shine. 
7th Geup: Green Taekwondo Stripe

The color green in the green stripe represents the pine tree which has now started to grow and begins its journey. This is the middle phase, lying between the yellow belt and the green belt, and it serves as a bridge.

6th Geup: Green Taekwondo Belt

This belt represents the beginning of the transition of a student from beginner to intermediate. The seed has started to develop into a plant. The students at this level begin to get a feel of the elementary skills of defending themselves.

5th Geup: Blue Taekwondo Stripe

Similar to the Yellow Stirpe and the Blue Stripe, the blue stripe is also a bridge. At this level, students begin to show control over the basic techniques that they have learned till now in Taekwondo.

4th Geup: Blue Taekwondo Belt

With the blue belt, the student is now finally said to have achieved intermediate martial art skills and has considerable control over his mind and movement. The color blue represents the blue sky and signifies that the plant, i.e., the student, is now getting ready to grow even further.

3rd Geup: Red  Taekwondo Stripe

The red stripe is the gateway to the desired black belt. At this stage, the student moves a level forwards further from the intermediate level and starts to get a solid grip on the more proficient skills.

2nd Geup: Red Taekwondo Belt

The color red symbolizes the hot burning sun, signifying that the student is now ready to get ahead and hold a lethal weapon in the form of his skills. The student begins to grow from intermediate to expert level.

1st Geup: Black Taekwondo Stripe

This is the last and final bridge, after which the student can finally be considered someone who has a solid grip on the Taekwondo martial art.

Black Taekwondo Belt

Once the student passes Black Stripe, he or she is then finally awarded with a black belt. The color black signifies maturity like that of a fully grown-up tree. This color gets generated when all the other colors get absorbed into one.

Let us now take a look at the second governing body of Taekwondo:

2. World Taekwondo

This taekwondo organization has the highest number of schools affiliated with it. However, some schools slightly modify the ranks and prefer to use a slightly customized version of the ranking system.

Here is a complete list of all the belts of this organization:

  • White Taekwondo Belt
  • Yellow Taekwondo Belt
  • Orange Taekwondo Belt
  • Green Taekwondo Belt
  • Purple Taekwondo Belt
  • Blue Taekwondo Senior Belt
  • Brown Taekwondo Belt
  • Brown Taekwondo Senior Belt
  • Red Taekwondo Belt
  • Black Taekwondo Belt

3. ATA Martial Arts

The ATA Martial Arts or the American Taekwondo Association is a US-based Taekwondo governing body. Most of the schools affiliated with it are American-based, and there are generally very few international schools.

Its ranking system contains a total of nine different belts:

  • White Taekwondo Belt
  • Orange Taekwondo Belt
  • Yellow Taekwondo Belt
  • Camouflage Taekwondo Belt
  • Green Taekwondo Belt
  • Purple Taekwondo Belt
  • Blue  Taekwondo Belt
  • Brown Taekwondo Belt
  • Red Taekwondo Belt
  • Black Taekwondo Belt

What is the best belt in Taekwondo?

It varies slightly from the organization and the style of Taekwondo. Still, generally, in most Taekwondo federations, the 9th Dan Black Belt or the 9th Degree Black Belt is regarded as the highest belt.

Practitioners who reach this level are called Taekwondo Grandmasters.

How long does it take to advance in ranks?

In general, most Taekwondo schools conduct a test every three to four months each year. Some traditional schools take exams at slightly longer intervals, which can be as long as six months.

It is important to note that things are completely different for Dan ranks which are considered advanced ranks in martial arts. Advancing from one Dan to another may take years.

How are students evaluated for promotion?

Different schools prefer different types of tests to evaluate their students.

Here is a list of all those tests:

  • Physical Conditioning: A general criteria of a certain level of physical fitness need to be met by all the students like stamina, strength, athleticism, etc. This also includes the number of squats, burpees, jumps, and pushups the student can do.
  • Poomsae: A poomsae is a pattern, and every belt in Taekwondo has its own pattern or poomsae. These are basically a combination of martial art techniques that students need to perform in the right order to get promoted.
  • Sparring: It is used to evaluate the student’s reflexes and command over movement skills.
  • Flexibility: As students get higher and higher up in ranks, more and more flexibility is demanded from them as certain techniques require flexibility to be performed correctly. Hence front and side splits are often part of the test.

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So there you have it, that was really all there is to the Taekwondo belt system. As you can see, this martial art has multiple different governing bodies, and hence there is no universal belt system.

If you found this article useful, feel free to share it with your friends and family who are interested in Taekdowno.

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