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Belt Ranks

Level

Rank

Belt Color

Notes

Beginner

10th Gup

White

No Stripes

Basic Beginner

9th Gup

White

1 Stripe

Advanced Beginner

8th Gup

Purple

1 Stripe

Advanced Beginner

7th Gup

Purple

2 Stripes

Intermediate

6th Gup

Green

1 Stripe

Intermediate

5th Gup

Green

2 Stripes

Intermediate

4th Gup

Green

3 Stripes

Advanced/Asst Instructor

3rd Gup

Red

1 Stripe

Advanced/Asst Instructor

2nd Gup

Red

2 Stripes

Advanced/Asst Instructor

1st Gup

Red

3 Stripes

Instructor

1st Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

1 Stripe

Instructor

2nd Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

2 Stripes

Instructor

3rd Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

3 Stripes

Master Instructor

4th Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

Red stripe lengthwise

Master Instructor

5th Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

Red stripe lengthwise

Master Instructor

6th Dan

Black/Midnight Blue

Red stripe lengthwise

Belt ranks are earned by satisfying the promotional requirements at each rank. Students are graded on knowledge, skill, attitude, and attendance.

THE MEANING OF THE BELT COLORS

When Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee developed the martial art of Tang Soo Do, he developed the ranking system consisting of the Gup (class) and Dan (degree) ranks you see above. When asked in 1970 about the significance of the colors chosen for the different belt ranks, his answer was that there was no significance or special meaning for the colors he chose. The only thing he mentioned was that the idea for the Red and Midnight Blue came from the “Tae Guk” (South Korean National Flag); with the Red coinciding with the "Yang," and the Blue coinciding with the "Um" (or Yin).

Since then, there have been some additional interpretations to the meaning of the colors used for the belts. Among them are:

White Belt
Emptiness, innocence, hidden potential, purity, light of day, all on the same level, no knowledge, Winter, cold, lifeless, nothingness...

Green Belt
Growth, spreading, advancement, tree tops rising toward the heavens, growth upward, Spring, beginning of life...

Red Belt
Ripening, active, sun light, in command of lower life, strengthening, Summer, heat, changing of ideas, maturing...

Midnight Blue/Black Belt
Maturity, passive, harvest, all of the heavens and the universe, completeness, oneness, life, health, Autumn, experience...

Note: The Black Belt color was originally instituted and worn by the Japanese and Okinawans with some interpretations stating the meaning as heavens and death. Tang Soo Do color explanations deal with the amount of knowledge and skill one has attained through training and experience and is in no way be associated with death. Our Midnight Blue belt signifies Instructor and the rank of First Dan and above. Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee decided to use the Black Belt and the Midnight Blue Belt interchangeably for 1st Dan and above early on, because many people around the world were already associating the Black Belt with those ranks.

In addition, most Tang Soo Do organizations use either an Orange or Purple Belt in between the White and Green Belts. Among the explanations passed down through the years is that Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee added the Orange Belt in 1975 to encourage additional time for training and development before reaching Green Belt. Kwan Jang Nim Kim Jae Joon (along with some of his associates in the USA) was said to have instituted the Purple Belt in lieu of the Orange Belt for the same reason at approximately the same time.

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