Belt Colour Meanings

ITF Belt colour

When you visit a Taekwon-Do dojang, or participate in a taekwondo class for the first time, you will notice that the belt colour of the students will be different. The belt color signifies each students level of training and proficiency.

In order to progress to the next belt colour, the student need to undergo a physical test (ITF Grading), which becomes increasingly more complex and difficult as they progress to higher ranks.

ITF Taekwon-Do Belt Sequence

White Belt – 10th Gup
White Belt / Yellow Tip –  9th Gup
Yellow Belt –  8th Gup
Yellow Belt / Green Tip – 7th Gup
Green Belt – 6th Gup
Green Belt / Blue Tip  – 5th Gup
Blue Belt –  4th Gup
Blue Belt / Red Tip – 3rd Gup
Red Belt – 2nd Gup
Red Belt / Black Tip – 1st Gup
Black Belt – 1st – 9th Degree


ITF White Belt

White : Signifies innocence. No previous knowledge of Taekwon-Do, as that of a beginner student.

This belt normally comes with the dobok, and no test is required to wear a white belt. It is the equivalent of ‘L-plates’ for a driver.


ITF yellow belt

Yellow : Signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the foundation of Taekwon-Do is being laid.


ITF Green Belt

Green : Signifies the plants growth as the Taekwon-Do skills begin to develop.


ITF Blue Belt

Blue : Signifies the sky and the heavens, towards which the tree grows as Taekwon-Do training progresses.


ITF Red Belt

Red : Signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control, and warning an opponent to stay away.


ITF Black Belt

Black : The opposite of white, therefore signifying a maturity and proficiency in Taekwon-Do and the holder’s imperviousness to darkness and fear.


Significance of Belt Colour

The main purpose of the belt is not just to distinguish the rank but also to represent the philosophical significance of the Taekwon-do practitioner.

It was decided at a special meeting on July 1st 1985 that the belt should be wrapped around the waist only once.

One (as in once around the waist) symbolises:

  • Pursue one goal whatsoever, once it has been determined
  • Serve one master with unshakable loyalty
  • Gain a victory in one blow

The belt should be tied in a square (or reef) knot beginning by crossing the right side over the left side then crossing the left over the right. The ends of the belt should hang at the same length and the opening of the square knot should be pointed to the students left.

The belt colour meanings refer either to the stage of development of a student, or to the plant/tree which symbolises the Taekwon-do student’s progression.

The belt colours were not chosen arbitrary. They are in-fact steeped in tradition. The colours of Black, Red and Blue denote the various levels of hierarchy during the Koguryo and Silla Dynasties of ancient Korea.

The logo on the back of the International Taekwon-do Federation uniform symbolises an evergreen tree. (source)