Belting systems are one of the most exciting parts of martial arts across the world. Belts are a way to show everyone in your class your skill level and dedication to the practice you have chosen.
You’ve probably encountered people in your life who are a specific belt in either Taekwondo or other martial arts, and you’ve almost certainly heard of the idea of a Blackbelt.
But what are the differences between different martial art belts? Is there a difference between a Taekwondo belt and other belts?
If you want to know the answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place. This article is going to take you through the standard belting system in Taekwondo, and how it compares to that of other martial arts.
Belt System In Taekwondo
Taekwondo is an old martial art with a rich system of belting. It originally comprised of just white, yellow, green, brown, and black.
But as the martial art has progressed and skyrocketed in other parts of the world other than just Korea, there are a lot more belting systems, often depending on age, gym, and region.
Belts in Taekwondo are generally divided into two distinct groups – both junior and senior, both including a variety of different belts. For junior belts, there are usually around ten belts depending on the organization, whilst adults go all the way up to black.
Between belts there is a ‘tip’ or ‘stripe’ that is added to your belt to signify your progress towards the next rank.
For the purpose of keeping this article simple, we’re just going to be covering the International Taekwondo Federation versions of belt grades.
- White Belt/beginner
- Yellow tip
- Yellow belt
- Green tip
- Green Belt
- Blue tip
- Blue Blet
- Red tip
- Red Belt
- Black tip
After this, we head into black belts, which are difficult to reach and even more difficult to improve. The black belts go all the way up to the 9th degree, which is equivalent to grandmaster.
Not many people in the history of the world have achieved this prestigious rank.
Other Belt Systems
One thing to note here is that whilst many martial arts disciplines feature some king of belting system, not every system is the same as Taekwondo.
However, there are some common similarities – namely that most systems begin with a white belt and end with a black belt. White and black belts are common signifiers of beginning and mastery.
We’re going to take a look at some of them so that you can see the differences and similarities.
Karate has one of the richest histories in all of martial arts, with some of its earliest versions going 1400 years in the past. Because of this, karate has a more rigid belting structure.
As a general rule, there are 6 main colored belts in karate: white belt, orange, blue, yellow, green, brown, and black belt.
Each of these represents one of the steps on your journey through the martial art. In karate, they usually use dashes to signify progression within a certain belt, just as they use tips in Taekwondo.
You’ve probably noticed that there are big similarities between the two systems, with some variations in color.
It’s worth noting that in kickboxing there are noticeable variations depending on school, but there is a general list. This includes white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, and then black.
Both kickboxing and karate follow common grading sessions where students showcase their skills in order to be given the chance of progressing.
This is the same for most martial arts, there are some which are slightly different, leading us to our next belt system in BJJ.
BJJ is the newest martial art on our list, and because of this, the belting system is less rooted in tradition and much more based on individual schools or gyms.
Because BJJ is a grappling martial art, it mostly consists of techniques that cannot be performed without physical contact between two members of the school/gym. Because of this, belts in BJJ are usually awarded at the discretion of the coach.
This means that there are no grading sessions for belt promotions, they simply occur at the end of a class, when a coach decides a student has earned it.
The belt order for BJJ is fixed with little variation, with the belts being white, blue, purple, brown, and black. Some modern BJJ gyms like Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu use colored rash guards as well as belts – but they have the same effect.
So as you can see, there are a lot of small differences between belting systems in martial arts. Taekwondo belts usually signify that someone is good at Taekwondo, but those skills don’t always cross over to other martial arts.
A person who is a blackbelt in Taekwondo is going to have skills in distance control, side stances, and a wide variety of different Taekwondo kicks and punching techniques.
We hope that this article has given you a good overview of the difference between Taekwondo and other martial arts and that you now have a good understanding of this topic.
Belting has been a way for martial arts to incentivize and reward students for their dedication and skills gained over the years.
Frequently Asked Question
Is There A Martial Art That Doesn’t Use Belts?
There are a few martial arts that don’t use belts. Belts are typically within more structured environments, and even some of the martial arts we listed above don’t use them.
Typically, Muay Thai, Sambo, Wrestling, and some schools of Kickboxing don’t use belts.
This is because these martial arts have heavy traditions of full-contact competition, meaning students will often prove themselves through titles, championship belts, and medals instead.
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