What Is The Order Of Belts In Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is one of the oldest martial arts in the world. Like other martial arts, most schools and instructors use the standardized belt system to monitor progress and symbolize the student’s skillsets.

What is The Order of Belts In Taekwondo?

So, what is the order of belts in taekwondo, and how are they achieved? 

What Is Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that teaches physical fighting skills and encourages deeper training of the body and mind. Taekwondo is a scientific and systematic martial art that encourages self-defense. 

Taekwondo was first developed almost 5,000 years ago, and it’s characterized by kicking and punching techniques, with a strong emphasis on spinning jump kicks, fast kicking techniques, and head-height kicks.

Taekwondo teaches participants the ‘correct’ ways to use their fists and feet so that they can defend themselves when necessary. 

There are five main rules of Taekwondo. These are: 

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Indomitable spirit
  • Perseverance 

Taekwondo has strong philosophical and religious influences, namely Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. These religions teach their followers to avoid conflict, help others, and practice altruism. 

History Of The Taekwondo Belt System

When Taekwondo was first established, there was no colored belt system to follow. According to legend, the belts worn by the Hwa Rang Do and other practitioners eventually become darker and stained with time, turning from a white belt to a black one. 

The modern Taekwondo belt system that we know today was first developed in the early 1940s. It’s usually symbolized as the growth of a tree, starting from a baby to an adult.

This process is represented by graduation from white belt to black belt. In the premier martial arts belt ranking system, the colored belts are as follows: 

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Red/Black
  • Black 

Each belt color has a lot of symbolism attached to it. We’ll explore this in-depth a little later on. 

In martial arts, the belt ranking system wasn’t officially universalized until 1956. From here, the belt ranking system was steadily adopted throughout the martial arts, and the founder of modern taekwondo Byung Jick Ro also adopted it into his teachings. 

Although the belt system first appeared in Judo, it has since been adopted into all of the martial arts, making it one of the most prominent features of the martial arts. 

The Taekwondo Belt Order System 

The Taekwondo Belt Order System 

Here is the general belt order system for Taekwondo. Remember, though, that not all institutions will use this system, and belt colors and levels of progression may differ between each school or teacher. 

White Belt

The white belt is the first belt each student will start with. The white belt symbolizes the innocence and purity of the student, who is new to the martial arts.

The symbolism of the belt system is closely associated with trees – for this reason, the white belt often represents a new seed. 

Yellow Belt 

Yellow is the second belt in the system. Yellow is said to represent the sunlight that grows the white seed. It can also symbolize the earth and the root system that takes place as the seed begins to grow.

It can take two to three months for a student to progress from white to yellow. 

Green Belt 

Green is the third belt in the system. The green belt is symbolic of the students’ continued growth.

To get the green belt, you’ll usually have to go through the same series of tests required to progress with each belt; however, you may also have to break a two and one-inch board with your feet. 

Brown Belt

Brown is the fourth belt in the standardized system. Brown is said to represent the ‘tree’ growing and maturing, just as the student is in their Taekwondo journey.

To get the brown belt, students will need to know all the fundamentals of the previous rank and execute each move with an appropriate level of accuracy, speed, and efficiency. 

Blue Belt

Blue is the fifth belt in the system. The blue belt is symbolic of the heavens above, which represents the plant growing higher and becoming a tall, towering tree.

To achieve blue belt, students must know their current and previous weapon skills and forms and be able to execute these accurately. 

Red Belt 

The red belt is the sixth belt in the system. The red belt is achieved just before the black belt, often considered the ‘gold standard’ of martial arts.

The red belt represents the brightness and energy of the sun, and to achieve it, students start to replace two-step sparring with multiple free sparring. They must know and obey the rules of sparring and spar proficiently for their rank. 

Black Belt 

The black belt is the final belt in the standardized system. The black belt is achieved when the student has finished their basic Taekwondo training.

Although most think that the black belt represents a student who has mastered the art, to students, it symbolizes the beginning of the mastery of taekwondo. 

The Black Belt: The Levels Of Black Belt And How Long It Takes To Get There 

The black belt has a system of its own. 

  • A first through third-degree black belt makes a student an assistant instructor
  • A fourth through sixth-degree black belt makes a student both an instructor and a master
  • With a seventh through ninth-degree black belt, a student is considered a grand master. You must be at least forty years of age to achieve this level. 

How long it takes to achieve a black belt will depend on several factors, namely knowledge, skill, and character.

Advancement will also depend on your physical and mental capabilities, but on average, it can take between three to five years to gain a black belt, depending on your taekwondo school and instructors. 

The Bottom Line

If your school or instructor uses the standardized belt system, the belt levels in taekwondo will be similar to most other martial arts. However, belts may differ between schools and instructors. 

Belts are used to represent your journey through taekwondo. Once you reach the black belt, don’t be fooled into thinking your journey is over. In reality, it’s only just begun!

Christopher Anderson