Which Belt Is The Highest In Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a more commonly practiced sport. With a spot for everyone from toddlers all the way to those in their 80s! Taekwondo is an excellent way to keep both the mind and body active and in shape.

Which Belt Is The Highest In Taekwondo?

With over 50,000 taekwondo studios in America, you can easily find the right place for you to begin your Taekwondo journey. 

Known for those iconic black belts, everyone has a goal in mind.

But is Black belt the highest? In this quick-read article you’ll learn everything you need to know about the highest belt in Taekwondo (see also ‘Skipping Belts In Taekwondo‘). 

Junior Level

At the junior level, a Taekwondo student’s advancement is measured by the number of coloured belts he has earned.

White is the beginner’s belt, and black is the highest level of achievement.

Grading exams, also known as promotion tests in Taekwondo, are required for students to go from one belt to the next.

A promotion test will require him to demonstrate his previous learning, and a stringent curriculum will require him to demonstrate his experience in poomsae (forms) and breaking.

Successfully breaking a board will demonstrate his technique’s force and speed, while poomsae will demonstrate his ability to memorize individual techniques in a prescribed sequence.

White Belt

A white belt is the first belt a student will be awarded with also known as a 10th Gup. This belt signifies the innocence of the student as they are just beginning their journey within Taekwondo.

It also indicates his ignorance of Taekwondo. This is because they are unaware of the respect and traditions carried throughout the art.

A white belt is generally given to a child joining the sport, however, is provided to anyone who is new to the martial arts. 

Before graduating to a Yellow Belt a student must first gain a white belt with a yellow stripe (9th Gup).

This showcases the students potential to move forward with their journey.

Yellow Belt

Once the student has passed their exam, they will be provided with a Yellow Belt. This represents the earth. Where plants take roots and grow. 

Students are now beginning to see changes within their mental and physical abilities as they grow in knowledge and confidence.

The foundations of Taekwondo practices are being laid for the student to now transcend in their journey. 

To signify that the student is almost ready to become a Green Belt, they are provided with a green tag.

This indicates that the student has almost completed their yellow belt training and are now practicing in order to achieve the next belt grade. 

Green Belt 

Green Belt or 6th Gup represents the students skills as they grow and develop.

In regards to training, the student is tasked with perfecting a 10 move sequence.

They will practice these moves individually to perfect form and then move onto sparring.

This allows the student to gain experience in hand to hand combat and prepare for their Blue Belt exam. 

Once a student has mastered their 10 move sequence and progressed in sparring, they will earn a green belt with a blue tag.

This is to highlight their progress to begin preparing for their Blue Belt. 

Blue Belt 

Blue Belt 

This 4th Gup represents the heavens as the ‘plant’ grows upwards. Within this grade the student will learn a 32 movement pattern.

These are more advanced than the Green Belt and require more time to master before performing in front of a judging panel. 

The defender must use effective blocking and evasion methods, followed by counterattacks that include a combination of hand and foot striking techniques, as well as takedown techniques.

Whether the defense is attempting to dodge or take down their partner, they must always “finish off” their opponent.

Throughout their exam they must show the control expected of their grade.

Red Belt

As a student progresses to a Red Belt, they are now showing their strength and knowledge of Taekwondo.

This belt is to represent the danger he holds as his skills progress. 

Throughout this exam, students are graded on free sparring. This is when there are no arrangements of movements or sequences practiced beforehand. 

Black Belt 

This is the final belt that can be earned by a junior level student. But it is not the highest like many believe. 

With achieving a Black Belt the student is highlighting his maturity. He is no longer a junior student and is now ready for the next stop in his journey.

The belts no longer change color but the more the belt is used it should begin to turn white to signify a full cycle. 

Senior Level Belts (Dans) 

Progression through Dans distinguishes senior levels. Promotion tests are far more rigorous, and dan grades are only transferred after a certain amount of years, not months.

A dan grade might be marked with white stripes, roman numerals, or nothing at all, according to the institution.

There are a total of 9 dan grades, which are divided into levels of responsibility, each with its own title:

  • Novice (1st-3rd Dan). This is the Assistant Director or Boo-Sabum. 
  • Expert (4th-6th Dan). This is the Instructor or Sabum. 
  • Master (7th-8th Dan). This is a Master or Sahyun. 
  • Grand Master (9th Dan). This is a Grand Master or Saseong. 

Which belt is the highest in Taekwondo?

We’ve covered all the belt rankings there are in Taekwondo. Whilst many believe the high ranking in a Black Belt, we now know that is not the case.

Once a student has achieved a Black Belt, they begin training for their first Dan. 

Dans are the beginning of a student teaching career.  As a senior grade Taekwondo student, Black Belts can begin helping others within their journey of Taekwondo.

When a black belt reaches their 4th Dan, they can begin grading those below for promotion.

A 4th Dan tends to be an Instructor at a Dojo and has extensive knowledge of Taekwondo. 

Go find your local dojo and begin trail blazing your way through Taekwondo belts! From white to black, anyone can begin their journey to becoming a master of Taekwondo.

Christopher Anderson
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