The Ranks of Tae Kwon Do
In Te Kwon Do the color belt represents the progress a student is making towards achieving their Black Belt. Each colored belt represents a certain level of accomplishment or a skill learned. Unlike many other martial arts, Tae Kwon Do follows a somewhat uniform belt system. Meaning that if a practitioner changes their school, the new school will more than likely have the same belt system. His technique will be at par with the new school according to the rank he holds.
The belt ranking system follows the one developed by the Japanese founder of Judo, Kanō Jigorō. Kanō introduced Judo to Japan at the turn of the twentieth century. Originally, there were six student grades referred to by number. Contrary to what we consider advancement in grades, Kanō's students would begin at Grade 6 and work up to Grade 1, and then they would graduate to Black Belt. The Black Belts were then further divided into 9 ranks. A student would begin at Rank 1 (First Dan) and work up to Rank 9 (Ninth Dan).
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.
Colored Stripes are an indication that the student has reached their half way mark and will soon be eligible to prove their ability to advance to a full colored belt.
All junior black belts, under the age of 15 (by Kukkiwon standards in Korea), receive a Poom Black Belt. This is by no means to undervalue their achievement, rather to give clear indication that although the student has achieved the level of technique needed to be a Black Belt, they are still at an immature age to accept the full responsibilities that rank requires.