The Different Meanings of Tae Kwon Do Belt Colors

Here is a short summary of the different meanings of Tae Kwon Do belt colors.


Colored belts represent a students progress toward black belt. Each belt represents a certain level of skill or a certain set of skills. Taekwondo does not have a uniform color order for student belts. Each school sets its own colors, color order and number of student grades. Each school also sets its own curriculum, so two students from different school with the same color belt might not know all the same kicks, blocks or forms. For example, in my school while studying for our yellow belt, we learned palm blocks, front stance, round house kick and side kick. Other schools might teach those skills at a different level, for a different belt. 

All belt systems are based on the system developed by Kanō Jigorō, the Japanese founder of Judo. Kanō introduced Judo to Japan at the turn of the twentieth century. Originally, there were six student grades referred to by number. A student would begin at Grade 6 and work up to Grade 1, and then they would graduate to black belt. The black belts were divided into 9 ranks. A student would begin at Rank 1 and work up to Rank 9. Black belt ranks have been standardized, but student grades have not.

Poetically, the white belt symbolizes innocence. It's the first step on your taekwondo journey. The yellow belt represents the earth in which the roots of your taekwondo skills will grow. The green belt represents a plant growing from the earth as the student's taekwondo skills develop. The blue belt represents the sky or heaven toward which the student's taekwondo skills stretch. The red belt symbolizes danger. At this stage the student is very skilled in taekwondo. This skill could be dangerous if the student has not also learned self-control. A black belt represents maturity, a good level of skill in taekwondo, rejection of darkness and fear.

The belts in Tae Kwon Do symbolize ranking. For example, the lowest rank is a white belt. The way you move up in rank differentiates between Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, and other forms of martial arts. Specifically in Tae Kwon Doe, for each belt there is a certain number of "stripes" that you can earn. Once you earn those stripes by performing and memorizing different steps and moves in a certain sequence, then you may "test." At testing, you will perform a "form"- which is a certain sequence of special moves. If the instructor deems you ready to move on to the next belt, you will be rewarded with a belt higher. 

Here is the number, order and significance of each belt from 

White Belt:

The lack of color signifies purity and innocence. The novice has no knowledge of tae kwon do. 

Yellow Belt:

The color of the rising sun. Seeds in the ground begin to germinate and grow. Basic tae kwon do techniques begin to be learned. 

Orange Belt:

The color of the rising sun. Seeds in the ground begin to germinate and grow. Basic tae kwon do techniques begin to be learned. 

Green Belt:

The color of growing things that all can see. Power begins to develop. 

Blue / Purple Belt:

The color of the sky which growing things reach for. Physical and mental power starts to stabilize. 

Brown Belt:

The color of the ground where growing things are rooted firmly. Stability of physical and mental power is apparent. 

Red / Bodan Belt:

The color of blood, the essential life force. Maturity, honor and respect are exhibited as character begins to perfect. 

Black Belt:

Black is the combination of all color. The final stage where technique is mastered within the humble and serene beauty of the plant. 

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Posted by KYLE ROBY on September 29, 2012