TaeKwonDo Ranks & Belt System

Taekwondo ranks are typically separated into "junior" and "senior," or "student" and "instructor," sections. The junior section typically consists of ten ranks indicated by the Korean word geup "급" (also Romanized as gup or kup). The junior ranks are usually identified by belts of various colors, depending on the school, so these ranks are sometimes called "color belts". Geup rank may be indicated by stripes on belts rather than by colored belts. Students begin at tenth geup (often indicated by a white belt) and advance toward first geup (often indicated by a red belt with a black stripe).

The senior section is typically made up of nine ranks. These ranks are called dan "단", also referred to as "black belts" or "degrees" (as in "third dan" or "third-degree black belt"). Black belts begin at first degree and advance to second, third, and so on. The degree is often indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or other methods; but sometimes black belts are plain and unadorned regardless of rank.

To advance from one rank to the next, students typically complete promotion tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before a panel of judges or their teacher. Promotion tests vary from school to school, but may include such elements as the execution of patterns, which combine various techniques in specific sequences; the breaking of boards to demonstrate the ability to use techniques with both power and control; sparring and self-defense to demonstrate the practical application and control of techniques; physical fitness usually with pushups; and answering questions on terminology, concepts and history to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the art. For higher dan tests, students are sometimes required to take a written test or submit a research paper in addition to taking the practical test.

Promotion from one geup to the next can proceed rapidly in some schools, since schools often allow geup promotions every two, three, or four months. Students of geup rank learn the most basic techniques first, and then move on to more advanced techniques as they approach first dan. Many of the older and more traditional schools often take longer to allow students to test for higher ranks than newer, more contemporary schools, as they may not have the required testing intervals.

In contrast, promotion from one dan to the next can take years. The general rule is that a black belt may advance from one rank to the next only after the number of years equivalent to the current rank. For example, a newly promoted third-degree black belt may not be allowed to advance to fourth-degree until three years have passed. Some organizations also have age requirements related to dan promotions, and may grant younger students poom "품" (junior black belt) ranks rather than dan ranks until they reach a certain age.

Black belt ranks may have titles associated with them, such as "master" and "instructor" but taekwondo organizations vary widely in rules and standards when it comes to ranks and titles. What holds true in one organization may not hold true in another, as is the case in many martial art systems. For example, achieving first dan ranking with three years' training might be typical in one organization, but fast in another organization, and likewise for other ranks. Similarly, the title for a given dan rank in one organization might not be the same as the title for that dan rank in another organization.

In the International TaekwonDo Federation, instructors holding 1st to 3rd dan are called Boosabum (assistant instructor), those holding 4th to 6th dan are called Sabum (Instructor), those holding 7th to 8th dan are called Sahyun (master), and those holding 9th dan are called Saseong (grand master). This system does not, however, necessarily apply to other taekwondo organizations.

How To Tie Your Belt


Oh's TaeKwonDo Belt System and Training Schedule

WHITE (10 Gub)
Movements Basic Stance
Counter Attack, Block, Punch

Testing Requirements
Form : OTC From 
Breaking : Step-in Front Kick

Basic Stance
Middle Round Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : OTC From 
Breaking : Step-in Middle Round Kick

YELLOW (8 Gub)
Three Step Sparring
Front Snap Kick
Round Kick and Side Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 1 Jang 
Breaking : Step-in Side Kick

Step Sparring
Counter Attack Side Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 2 Jang 
Breaking : Jumping Side Kick

GREEN (6 Gub)
Step Sparring 
Switch Step AX Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 3 Jang 
Breaking : Step-in AX Kick

Step Sparring 
Switch Step Turning Side Kick 

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 4 Jang 
Breaking : Round Kick Turning, Back Spin Kick, Hammer Fist

BLUE (4 Gub)
Step Sparring 
Step-in Outside Swing Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 5 Jang 
Breaking : Jumping Double Front Snap Kick, Knifehand Strike

Step Sparring 
Pushing Kick
Step-in Pushing Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 6 Jang 
Breaking : Jumping Flying Side Kick "Over Targets",Palm Strike

RED (2 Gub)
One Step Sparring 
Front Foot Side Kick Motion
Turning Jumping Back Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 7 Jang 
Breaking : Step-in Jumping Back Kick, Elbow Strike

One Step Sparring 
Jumping Middle Round Kick "with Back Foot"

Testing Requirements
Form : TaeGuek 8 Jang 
Breaking :  Jumping Back Spin Kick, Knuckle Punch

Step Sparring 
Jumping Double Back Spin Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : Koryo 
Breaking :  Jumping Turning Double Back Kick, "Large Wrist" One Concrete Block Hammer Fist, "Small Wrist" 1 to 3 Roof Tile Hammer Fist

Step Sparring 
Tornado Kick

Testing Requirements
Form : Koryo, TaeGuek 1-8 Jang
Breaking :  Tornado Kick, Speed Knifehand Break, "Large Wrist" Two Concrete Block Hammer Fist, "Small Wrist" 1 to 3 Roof Tile Hammer Fist

Grand Master Joo-Yul Oh
Copyright © 2009 Oh's Tae Kwon Do & Martial Arts, Inc. All rights reserved.
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