Taekwondo is a sport that’s steeped in culture and tradition, as well as being incredibly deep.
Many people train for most of their lives and this is because of the enormous depth and variety that comes with Taekwondo, but there’s also other rituals that you’ve got to follow if you want to be a master of Taekwondo too.
In this article we’ll be answering what the Taekwondo uniform is called, and its significance in the sport.
We’ll be answering what it means to wear the traditional uniform, and how you should best present yourself when wearing it. So without further ado let’s get started.
The Taekwondo Uniform
Uniform is an incredibly important part of taekwondo because of the symbolism that comes with it, once everyone wears the same uniform it’s easy to understand how no matter where each individual comes from, everyone wearing that uniform is of the same status.
The only thing that differentiates people from one another is the belt that they wear around their waist, which you can earn only from your own merit.
The uniform is loose and free flowing too, to allow for easy movement and absolutely no constraints whilst you spar.
In Taekwondo, the uniform that every participant wears is called a dobok. It consists of a top and pants, worn with a ddi.
The term dobok literally means ‘clothing of the way’ (bok = clothing; do = the way, just as in the word taekwondo).
Whatever variant of the uniform you wear will always have the same type of pants (higher ranks sometimes have black trims down the length of the pants) but there are a few different variations of top that you can choose to wear as your uniform, these are:
- Older, and more traditional taekwondo uniforms use a cross-over jacket front, which often have black trims for black belts, either on the collar or the bottom of the jacket. This type of jacket is also used for competition poomsae uniforms in WT (World Taekwondo) events.
- Newer ITF (International Taekwondo Federation)-style uniforms use a vertically closing jacket. Black belts will have a black trim on the bottom of the jacket and higher-ranked black belts will also have a black trim down the arms. You’d sometimes see cross-over jackets used in ITF-style schools too.
- For sparring, WT- or Kukkiwon-style taekwondo sparring uniforms use a pull-over V-neck jacket that is solid white with absolutely no trim. Black Belts will have a black trim around the collar, whereas other color belt uniforms have no trim at all. The pull-over design facilitates wearing of the hogu, which is a chest protector that’s used whilst sparring.
- For poomsae, WT- or Kukkiwon-style taekwondo poomsae uniforms use a traditional Y-neck cross-over jacket that closes towards the right side of the body. This jacket is similar to older style taekwondo doboks or japanese dogi. For lower ranks, the collar and pants are white, while poom and dan ranks have colored pants and collar depending on the practitioner’s gender and rank. High dan practitioners (7th dan and up) and older masters are allowed to use golden colored jackets instead of the usual white colored jackets.
For most levels of taekwondo, white uniforms are the norm for students. But there’s loads of other colors available for different roles in taekwondo.
Teachers (especially those with black belts) are given black uniforms, and demo teams can be given orange or red uniforms.
Typically if you see people wearing a color other than white, it’ll mean that they hold some sort of authority in the sport.
Players are also able to sew badges or team logos onto their uniforms too.
For many teams it’s the norm to get the name of the team on the back of their dobok, and maybe in other places too, like down the side of the leg, or on an arm.
In taekwondo, belts are just as important, if not more important than the uniform itself, which is why it’s imperative that you also understand the role of the belts as much as the uniform that you wear.
The belts represent the rank of the person wearing them, and these ranks are called kup.
New students begin at 10th Kup (white belt) and advance down in number to 1st Kup. Each belt is followed by a belt of the same color, with a stripe of the next color running through it.
Once students have progressed down the ranks, students will then advance into an intermediate rank called “black belt candidate”.
After this the student takes a dan test, after which the student becomes a 1st dan black belt.
These dan ranks increase from 1st all the way to 10th, and this is generally signified with a golden stripe that runs through the black belt. This is considered the highest possible rank for Taekwondo.
There’s multiple different ways to tie your belt to you, but tradition states that the single uncommon wrap is the only real way to tie your belt around your waist, and this is because it signifies the pursuit of a single goal, and your ability to defeat your opponent in one single move.
The uniform in Taekwondo is of utmost importance, and that’s for the deep rooted tradition with the sport, and also the practicality of performing martial arts.
So hopefully you can now understand the many details that go into such a beautiful and simplistic uniform. Be sure to get a uniform that fits correctly, and allows you to learn taekwondo unhindered.