Belts & Ranking Methodology

As a World Taekwondo Federation school, our belts and ranking methodology are pretty much what one would expect.  As students advance at Brown’s Traditional Taekwondo, they receive a different colored belt, starting with a white belt.  Promotional testings are held every month, BUT that does not mean that every student has a monthly opportunity to advance.  An appropriate amount of time must pass between each belt before an individual may apply to test, and he or she must have obtained all necessary “stripes” on their current belt, indicating readiness to test.  Some schools actually charge for each stripe if they have a stripe program.  We do not.  There is a testing fee associated with promotional testings from belt to belt, but not for the incremental stripes on a given belt.

Students must demonstrate a proficiency in self-defense techniques associated with Taekwondo as well as proficiency in their given form or “poomsae.”  Students must further accomplish one or more breaking techniques that include wooden boards and later concrete bricks.  Students must also answer questions, demonstrate a knowledge of certain Korean terms, and fulfil other requirements appropriate for the rank they are seeking to obtain.  Students test in front of one or more credentialed, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) master instructor(s) and may be further graded by other WTF black belt instructors.  In some cases, a guest master or grandmaster instructor from another WTF school may judge during a promotional testing.

Most students take about 4 years to become a 1st degree (Dan) WTF black belt.  However, it takes progressively longer to obtain each degree or dan promotion, and the requirements continue to grow in complexity according to the rules of the World Taekwondo Federation.  One may advance through black belt degrees for the remainder of his or her natural life.  A 5th degree has obtained “master” status, and typically a 7th degree has obtained “grandmaster” status, although there are varied rules relative to number of black belt students, etc.  A 9th degree is the highest degree that a “living” Taekwondo practitioner can obtain, with an honorary 10th degree sometimes awarded posthumously.

Assigned Rankings
White Belt Initial rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Ki Bon Hyung.”
Yellow Belt First school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Il Jang.”
Orange Belt Second school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Ee Jang.”
Green Belt Third school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Sam Jang.”
Purple Belt Fourth school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Sa Jang.”
Blue Belt Fifth school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk O Jang.”
Brown Belt Sixth school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Yuk Jang.”
Red Belt Seventh school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Chil Jang.”
1st Red/Black Belt Eigth school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Tae Guk Pal Jang.”
School Black Belt Ninth school rank of any practitioner. Form or “poomsae” is called “Koryo Hyung.” Note that this black belt is not WTF. It is school assigned to see what kind of black belt a student will be before allowing him or her to test for his or her 1st Dan under the World Taekwondo Federation. Wearing a black belt can go to some peoples’ heads.
1st Dan Black Belt 1st degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
2nd Dan Black Belt 2nd degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
3rd Dan Black Belt 3rd degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
4th Dan Black Belt 4th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
5th Dan Black Belt 5th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation, and master status.
6th Dan Black Belt 6th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
7th Dan Black Belt 7th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation, and often conducted in Korea.
8th Dan Black Belt 8th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
9th Dan Black Belt 9th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation.
10th Dan Black Belt 10th degree awarded by the World Taekwondo Federation posthumously for past presidents and outstanding contributors to Taekwondo.

NOTE:  There are many various associations formed among masters and grandmasters that may issue black belt certificates, but that are not necessarily recognized outside of themselves.  This can hinder a students’ advancement in Taekwondo if not understood and even limit his or her ability to compete in certain tournaments, particularly those on the Olympic circuit, without “retesting,” and “paying additional fees” to transfer and obtain sanctioned credentials; an expensive and often long proposition considering it can take a year or more to receive accreditation after attempting to transfer outside certificates.  There are generally two international governing bodies that have to date yet to unify:  The World Taekwondo Federation, or WTF, and the International Taekwondo Federation, or ITF.  The Olympic sport of Taekwondo was established by the efforts of the World Taekwondo Federation.

If you earned your Taekwondo black belt from another school, who issued your certificate?

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