Taekwondo Belts and Grading

Taekwondo Belts and Grading


Taekwondo Kup Grades

A coloured belts are known as Kup Grades. Belt colours in the martial arts symbolise that a person has achieved a certain rank. The belt system was really only introduced for Western practitioners. Originally in Korea the student would simply go from white belt to black belt, this often took years and years of dedication by the student. However, this mentality would probably not encourage western thinking people to continue training without an incentive; hence the belt system was introduced.

In between students achieving solid colours, tags are introduced and there are 9 belts (stages) from white belt to black belt, including yellow, blue and red.

Frequency of Kup grading depends on how often the student trains. The more lessons are attended and the harder the student practises the more likely they are to go for their grades and next belts. Grading depends on not only learning physical techniques but also having the correct attitude towards the martial arts and learning the martial arts tenets.

Grades are normally every 3 months but students cannot expect to grade everytime unless they are extremely dedicated and practise consistently. On average it should take approximately 3-4 years to gain your black belt, however depending on circumstances and practise it could be longer or shorter.

Click on the grade below to take you to your related syllabus and what you should be practising.

Grade Belt Meaning
9th Kup White Belt Signifies innocence, as that of the beginning student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwondo
8th Kup White Belt/ Yellow Tag
7th Kup White Belt/Double Yellow Tag
6th kup Yellow Belt Signifies Earth, from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Taekwondo foundation is being laid
5th Kup Yellow Belt/Blue Tag
4th Kup Blue Belt Signifies the heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwondo progresses.
3rd Kup Blue Belt/Red Tag
2nd Kup Red Belt Signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control, and warning the opponent to stay away
1st Kup Red Belt/Black Tag
1st Dan Black Belt Opposite of white: therefore signifying a Student’s maturity and proficiency in Taekwondo. Also indicates the wearers’ imperviousness to darkness and fear


Dan Grades

As soon as a student gains their black belt they instantly become a Dan Grade and receive their 1st Dan black belt. The highest grade in Taekwondo is a 9th Dan black belt. Because students should always have an open mind when it comes to learning no matter what their grade, eastern philosophy states that once you have achieved your 9th Dan black belt you should revisit your martial arts training from a white belt level and start the whole process all over again as there must have been something you missed first time around.

Achieving your next Dan Grade is a lot harder than Kup grades. Once you have achieved your 1st Dan black belt you will have to train for at least 2 years before your instructor recommends you for 2nd Dan. It takes another 3 years training to get your 3rd Dan, another 4 years to get your 4th. Etc. When you get to a high grade black belt your promotion should also depend on your contribution towards Taekwondo as a whole and pushing the martial art forward.

Respect your belt. Black belts should look after their belts. Your belt is a visual image and memory of all the hard work, dedication, sweat, pain, tears, sacrifice and injuries you have gone through to get it. It should mean something to you and you should take good care of it.

Students get their name embroidered on their belts, their club, their grade etc. Really you should only have one black belt, your original and it should be plain with no writing on at all. High grade black belts often have frayed, whitened belts, this indicates hard training over a long period of time. Always keep your original black belt and see how many years of training it takes to turn white.

Never ask to grade. It is extremely bad manners to ask to grade, either at Kup grade or Dan grade level. Your Instructor will put you forward when you are deemed to be both physically and mentally ready.

Tips to grade.

  • Practise as much as you can.
  • Attend lessons as regularly as you can.
  • Encourage the lower grades.
  • Help your club and instructor.