Meaning of the Belt Colours

Belt colours that are available commercially.

In the World Taekwondo Belt system, there are these belt colours that denote the rank of students. The sequence is: White > Yellow > Green > Blue > Red > Black. Some Taekwondo schools may have a slightly different colour system, but every school would use the Gup, Poom and Dan system. The first Rank for a beginner would be 9th Gup (White Belt). The following ranks after that would be 8th Gup, 7th Gup, 6th Gup, 5th Gup, 4th Gup, 3rd Gup, 2nd Gup, and 1st Gup. So some schools would use the White, Yellow 1, Yellow 2, Green 1, Green 2, Blue 1, Blue 2, Red 1, Red 2, and Black.

In the World Taekwondo system, young students below the age of 16, who have reached the level of 1st Gup (Red 2) will be allowed to sit for their black belt examination. However, upon passing this exam, they will be granted a Poom rank. This rank is called a junior black belt. In many WT schools, it is indicated by a Red and Black split coloured belt and some may even wear the V-neck Dobok with the red and black split coloured lapel. Upon turning 16, the Poom rank holder can then test for the Dan rank equivalent.

The Dan (Black belt) ranks are for those aged 16 years and above. They begin with 1st Dan, 2nd Dan, 3rd Dan and so on, and reaching 9th Dan. There is the honorary 10th Dan reserved for some.

The Meanings of the Belt Colours are as Follows:

  • White
    • Symbolizes innocence. A blank canvas.
  • Yellow
    • The colour of the rising sun. Symbolizes the beginning of the journey.
  • Green
    • Just as green shoots that emerge from the soil, the practitioner is beginning to grow.
  • Blue
    • Just as a plant strives to reach higher to the blue sky, the practitioner here is also aiming for the skies.
  • Red
    • The colour of blood and danger. The practitioner now needs to learn control as their skills become dangerous, not only to others, but to themselves.
  • Black
    • Now that the basic skills have been attained, it is a new beginning. Black is a colour that can no longer be any darker, hence it shows that knowledge is never ending. Unlike the common perception, attaining the black belt does not mean that the practitioner has learnt it all. It is quite the opposite.

Black Belt Ranks

Some practitioners display their ranks by the number of stripes on their black belt. Some do not, out of humility. This does not mean that those who display their rank are pompous, but it may be a tradition that is followed in their martial art school.

There are also those who wear a really worn out black belt that is almost white. Perhaps they have trained so much that their belts have worn out to that extent. Beware of their skills!

Duration of Training Between Rank Upgrading Examinations

There is no standard duration for coloured belts. However, a minimum proficiency should be attained before attempting the upgrading examination. Some schools may impose a minimum attendance, whilst some may have upgrading exams scheduled every 3 months.

Black belt gradings are a different matter. There is a minimum period between upgrading set by Taekwondo Malaysia. (the current system may be different from this article).

For example, the minimum training period between 1st Dan to 2nd Dan is 1 year, from 2nd Dan to 3rd Dan is 2 years and so on. However, many may have trained much longer than the minimum. At the end of the day, it is not about chasing the rank. Enjoy the journey as it is a lifetime of learning.