Master Gary Tong C.Y  

International Taekwon-Do Master Instructor 

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ITF Taekwon-Do Rank System

Posted by Master Gary Tong on October 11, 2014 at 6:15 AM

Ranks System




The Ch'ang-Hon Taekwon-Do Style has a unique ranking system. It consists of five solid color belts (kups - also commonly called gups), five intermediate colour belts (indicated by a stripe around both hanging ends of the belt or a stripe around the middle of the entire belt), and nine degrees of Black.


10th kup (white)

9th kup (white with yellow stripe)

8th kup (yellow)

7th kup (yellow with green stripe)

6th kup (green)

5th kup (green with blue stripe)

4th kup (blue)

3rd kup (blue with red stripe)

2nd kup (red)

1st kup (red with a black stripe)

The nine degrees (dans) of Black are organized into skill levels:


1st-3rd dan (Novice) with the title of Assistant Instructor (Boo-sabum)

4th-6th dan (Expert) with the title of Instructor (Sabum)

7th-8th dan (Master) with the title of Master (Sahyun)

9th dan (Grand Master) with the title of Grand Master (Saseong)

The reason for nine black belt degrees, according to General Choi, is that the number nine is not only the highest of the single-digit numbers, but also is the number of three multiplied by three. In the Orient, three is the most esteemed of all numbers. The Chinese character for 3 is three horizontal lines, one above the other. The bottom line represents earth; the middle line represents mortals; the upper line represents heaven.


Each colour has a specific philosophical meaning. They are as follows:


White - signifies innocence and ignorance toward Taekwon-Do, 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 Taekwon-Do foundation is laid;

Green - signifies the plant's growth, as the Taekwon-Do

skill begins to develop; Blue - signifies Heaven, towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwon-Do progress;

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. It also indicates the wearer's imperviousness to darkness and fear.

Up to 6th dan, all ranks require the student to perform a test of all skills and knowledge up to their rank to be promoted. Ranks above 6th dan may be awarded with consent of the promotion committee with no physical test required; due to the nature of and responsibilities of a master no longer being centered on the physical development of students. However, if the recipient desires, a demonstration may be performed. 9th degree (being the highest) can only be awarded when the special committee examines and reaches a unanimous consent. There are minimum times that practitioners must remain at a black belt degree before being promoted to the next grade: 1st degree: minimum 18 months as 1st degree before promotion to 2nd degree; 2nd degree: minimum 2 years; 3rd degree: minimum 3 years; 4th degree: minimum 4 years; and so on.



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