It was only toward the end of the last century that there came the division of the Belts and their respective colors.
In order to stimulate and give some recognition of a certain achievement to the student, Dr. Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo, created such divisions and introduced Belt colors. Soon all the styles in martial arts adopted this idea, and so now each style has it's own color belt system. In Korean Tae Kwon Do, color divisions have been borrowed from the Korean history, especially from the mores of the nobility of old times.
Today, revised and updated, they carry a special meaning on the ladder of achievement for each student. The colors are as follows (from the lowest to the highest):

  1. WHITE & (white with a yellow stripe).
  2. YELLOW & (yellow with a green stripe).
  3. GREEN & (green with a blue stripe).
  4. BLUE & (blue with a red stripe).
  5. RED & (red with a black stripe).
  6. BLACK, with one , two, or three silver stripes representing respectively First, Second, and Third degree Black Belts (Dans). The Fourth and higher degree Black Belts instead of silver stripes have golden numerals corresponding to the proper rank in Roman numerals.

The WHITE BELT represents innocence, purity, virginity of the soul and mind, just as in the church the meaning of a white garment is sinless life.

The YELLOW BELT symbolizes gold ore. Just as gold, which is a precious metal never subject to rusting, so is the knowledge of martial arts, the Tae-Kwon-Do, forever with the student. Like gold ore, which is buried deeply in the ground with all its impurities, so is the knowledge, which in order to be pure and fully worthy, must be laboriously dug out, patiently cleansed to produce the desired quality in a finished pure form.

The GREEN BELT symbolizes green trees. Just as a green tree is the tallest living thing, so should our own pursuit of knowledge be, aiming high and keeping the goal of our achievement (top of the trees) in high esteem.

The BLUE BELT symbolizes the blueness of our skies. In reaching this plateau of martial arts one must not become complacent seeing one's knowledge as high as a tree, but one must also realize that this is not an end, that one should reach still higher, to the very blueness of the sky. Like the sky which engulfs and embraces us, so should the knowledge transcend the height of the trees and go higher spreading all around us.

The RED BELT symbolizes the color of the sun. In almost all primitive religions the worship of the Sun was always placed in the foreground. The Sun was and is "farther" than the sky, and, more importantly, it is the life-giving force which makes everything grow, gives warmth without which everything would wither away and eventually die. The red color was and still is used to represent the highest ranks and positions of officials in the government hierarchy, political structures and in martial arts (it is "King's" color, the color of the Popes and the Cardinals, Bishops, diplomats with their red bands across the shoulder, red ribbons for heroes' medals of military achievement, etc.) Today the true Okinawan masters as well as some Japanese masters consider the red belt as the highest color of achievement. Red can be found on many flags of different nations. Red is also the color of blood, the life substance of the living body.

The BLACK BELT is the highest color belt in most martial arts including ITF and WTF of Tae Kwon Do. Black symbolizes the combination of all colors of the universe, which we see as black. From black all colors originate and spring up to create the lively rainbow. The Black Belt is the beginning of true achievement, understanding and wisdom, blending the mind and the body into one, into a unity within oneself and with the universe.


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Updated on FEBRUARY 12, 2014!