About Taekwondo Belts: Why are there so many Taekwondo Belts?

Taekwondo Belts:  Uncovering the meaning of Taekwondo Belts

credit: Graeme Weatherston

Are you confused by Taekwondo belts?  When you go to a Taekwondo event and see the many rainbow of Taekwondo belt colors, do you wonder why there are so many?

Well, this article should help clear things up.

In Taekwondo, the core belt colors are:

  • White (typically mapped to the lowest belt rank)
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Black (generally mapped to the highest belt rank)
Most traditional Taekwondo schools use these as the base color.  However, some schools take the liberty of using other colors, such as orange, purple, and brown.
Anyway, these belt colors represent a student’s rank (GUP in Korean).  Typically, the lowest rank is mapped to white belt.  In Taekwondo the lowest rank begins at 10th gup.  In our school, it goes in this order (from low to high):
  • 10th gup – white belt
  • 9th gup – senior white belt (white belt with a black strip going across)
  • 8th gup – yellow belt
  • 7th gup – senior yellow belt  (yellow belt with a black strip going across)
  • 6th gup – green belt
  • 5th gup – senior green belt  (green belt with a black strip going across)
  • 4th gup – blue belt
  • 3rd gup – senior blue belt  (blue belt with a black strip going across)
  • 2nd gup – red belt
  • 1st gup – senior red belt  (red belt with a black strip going across)
  • Bo dan – black belt candidate (red/black belt; red on top/black on bottom half)
  • 1st dan (or poom if student is 15 years old or younger) – black belt
  • 2nd dan (or poom if student is 15 years old or younger) – black belt
  • 3rd dan – black belt (two of our instructors are at this rank)
  • 4th dan – black belt (one of our master instructors is at this rank)
  • 5th dan – black belt (our chief master instructor is at this rank)
  • it goes up as high as 9th dan (black belt)
If you keep rank in mind when looking at belt colors, it may help a bit in reducing confusion, but since most people are visual, knowing the core belt colors and how they fit in the general ranking scheme helps.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

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