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System of Rank

Taekwon-Do – System of Rank

In Taekwon-Do, character development, fortitude, tenacity, and technique are graded as well as individual capacity. The promotional scale is divided into nineteen ranks – 10 grades (Kups) and nine degrees (Dans.) The former begins with 10th grade (Kup) the lowest and ends at first grade. Degrees begin with the first degree (Dan) and end with the ultimate, ninth degree.

There is, of course, certain significance in the numbering system. With degrees, the number 9 is not only the highest one among one digit numbers but also is the number of 3 multiplied by 3. In the Orient, three is the most esteemed of all the numbers. The Chinese character representing three is written with an upper line, which symbolizes the heaven, the middle line is the mortals, and the bottom line Earth. It was believed that the individual who was successful in promoting his country, fellowmen and God, and able to reach an accord with all three would aspire to become King. The Chinese character for three and king are nearly synonymous. When the number three is multiplied by itself, the equation is nine, the highest of the high; therefore ninth degree is the highest of the high-ranking belts. It is also interesting to note that when the number 9 is multiplied by any other single digit number and the resultant figures are added together, the answer always equals 9, i.e. 9×1=9; 9×2=18, 1+8=9 and so on up to 9×9=81, 8+1=9. Since this is the only single digit number having this property, it again points to the number 9 as being the most positive of figures. Taking the use of the number three one-step further, the degrees are further divided into three distinct classes. First through third degree is considered the novice stages of black belt. Students are still merely beginners in comparison to the higher degrees. At fourth degree, the student crosses the threshold of puberty and enters the expert class. Seventh through ninth is composed of Taekwon-Do masters – the elite who fully understand all the particulars of Taekwon-Do, mental and physical.

There is perhaps one question that remains: why begin with the lowest of the two digit numbers 10? Why not begin with the lowest one digit number and proceed from first grade to ninth grade, and then begin again for degrees? Though it would certainly be more logical, the 10 to 1 and 1 to 10 numerical system in the Orient is ageless. It would be impossible, if not even a bit impertinent, to attempt to change a practice that is even carried into children’s games. Perhaps there was an initial logical reason for it: however, it seems to have been lost in antiquity. Anyhow, the number “10″ is the lowest existing two-digit number, consequently, a beginner must start at this number rather than 11 or 12 which are numerically higher.

Belt Image 10th Kup
Belt Image 9th Kup
Yellow Tag
Belt Image 8th Kup
Belt Image 7th Kup
Green Tag
Belt Image 6th Kup
Belt Image 5th Kup
Blue Tag
Belt Image 4th Kup
Belt Image 3rd Kup
Red Tag
Belt Image 2nd Kup
Belt Image 1st Kup
Black Tag
Belt Image 1st Dan
Belt Image 2nd Dan
Belt Image 3rd Dan
Belt Image 4th Dan
Belt Image 5th Dan
Belt Image 6th Dan
Belt Image 7th Dan
Belt Image 8th Dan
Belt Image 9th Dan
  • White
    Signifies innocence, as that of the beginning student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwon-Do.
  • Yellow
    Signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the foundation of Taekwon-Do is being laid.
  • Green
    Signifies the plant’s growth as Taekwon-Do skills begin to develop
    and flourish.
  • Blue
    Signifies the Heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwon-Do progresses.
  • Red
    Signifies Danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away.
  • Black
    Opposite of white, therefore signifying the maturity and proficiency in Taekwon-Do, also indicates the wearer’s imperviousness to darkness and fear.

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