Taekwondo Belt Order And Martial Arts Color Ranking System

Jose "Jay" Carrillo

If you’re a Taekwondo (Tae Kwon Do) beginner, you might be wondering what order you need to get your belts in to reach that coveted black belt you’ve set your sights on. Well, wonder no more!

The different Taekwondo organizations and schools have their own numbering system and belt colors. But, the typical Taekwondo belt order and colors are as follows:

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Blue
  5. Red
  6. Black

Below you’ll find a complete guide to the Taekwondo belt orderranking system and other interesting facts to help you get started on your martial arts journey.

I had to learn this all by myself back in college when I was first a Taekwondo student, but you can learn all of this in just a matter of minutes. Continue reading to find out more being that it’s different from karate . . .

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Meaning of the Traditional Taekwondo Belt Order And Colors

Every belt up to the red belt is considered a student belt because it indicates increasing levels of knowledge and proficiency. The black color belt is considered a degree belt because it indicates a certain level of mastery of the martial art.

At the belt level, each color has significant meaning. Read below to find out what each of the belt colors represent.

White Belt – Represents purity and innocence.

Yellow Belt – Represents the color of the sun and is associated with the growing stages of life, wisdom and knowledge.

Green Belt – Represents springtime when new life begins to grow and flourish. It’s also associated with growth, progress and learning.

Blue Belt – Represents the color of the sky and is associated with peace, harmony, truth and understanding.

Red Belt – Represents danger and caution, and is associated with bravery and courage.

Black Belt – Represents balance and harmony between two opposites, and is also associated with power, strength and discipline.

Different Taekwondo Organization Belt Colors

It’s important to note that the belt colors will change based on the actual Taekwondo organization and federation. Below you’ll be able to pick out the differences between the different organization belt colors and the most common belt colors I listed above.

ATA (American Taekwondo Association) Martial Arts

  1. White Belt
  2. Orange Belt
  3. Yellow Belt
  4. Camouflage Belt
  5. Green Belt
  6. Purple Belt
  7. Blue Belt
  8. Brown Belt
  9. Red Belt
  10. Black Belt

ITF (International Taekwondo Federation)

  1. White Belt
  2. White Belt (with gold stripe)
  3. Gold Belt
  4. Gold Belt (with green stripe)
  5. Green Belt
  6. Green Belt (with blue stripe)
  7. Blue Belt (with red stripe)
  8. Red Belt
  9. Red Belt (with black stripe)
  10. Black Belt

World Taekwondo Federation

  1. White Belt
  2. Yellow Belt
  3. Orange Belt (with yellow stripe)
  4. Green Belt
  5. Green Belt (with blue stripe)
  6. Blue Belt
  7. Blue Belt (with black or blue stripe)
  8. Brown Belt
  9. Red Belt
  10. Black Belt

Skills and Techniques by Belt Color and Taekwondo Belt Order Levels

Now that you know the typical order and colors of the Taekwondo belts, you’re going to need to know a little more about the skills and techniques at each level.

There are a variety of different techniques involved in Taekwondo and each belt color represents a different level of proficiency in these techniques. The following is a brief breakdown of the different techniques that you will learn as you progress through the Taekwondo belt order and colors. Every time you are ready for the next level, you will have a promotion to showcase your skills and all your learned techniques.

I’ve broken them down by belt level and belt color.

Beginner Level

White Belt – Learn to build strength, flexibility and coordination. Learn basic Taekwondo techniques such as kicks, punches, strikes and blocks with proper technique, as well as an intro to self-defense. This is the first phase of growth.

Intermediate Level

Yellow Belt – At this stage you’ll learn more advanced techniques such as throws and joint locks. You’ll also start to develop your self-defense skills.

Advanced Level

Green Belt – Learn even more advanced techniques such as sparring and competitive techniques. You’ll also continue to develop your self-defense skills.

Expert Level

Blue Belt – At this stage, you’ll learn the most advanced techniques of Taekwondo. You’ll also continue to develop your self-defense skills even further.

Pre-Master Level

Red Belt – Learn techniques that could potentially be dangerous if not executed with caution. Focused learning on mastering your self-defense skills.

Master Level

Black Belt – At this stage, you’ve mastered all the techniques. This includes self-defense such as gun defense, knife defense and wrapping up your opponent. The rest depends on the Taekwondo organization or school, but typically, you’ll learn longer combinations and a higher quantity of techniques where memorization is even more critical.

Different Degrees of the Martial Arts Black Belt Ranking System

Many don’t know this but there are multiple degrees of black belt levels in martial arts. Taekwondo is no exception. There are ten levels from the first degree all the way up to the 10th degree including the first basic black belt. Each will take time to attain and it’ll definitely take more than a month for sure . . . on the order of years of training.

The degrees below are representative of the ATA black belts.

1st Dan Black Belt

The first Dan black belt is the basic black belt people always think about.

2nd Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after a year as a practicing 1st Dan Black Belt.

3rd Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after two years as a practicing 2nd Dan Black Belt.

4th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after three years as a practicing 3rd Dan Black Belt.

5th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after four years as a practicing 4th Dan Black Belt.

6th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after five years as a practicing 5th Dan Black Belt. This signifies master status.

7th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after six years as a practicing 6th Dan Black Belt. This signifies senior master status.

8th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after seven years as a practicing 7th Dan Black Belt. This signifies chief master status.

9th Dan Black Belt

This black belt can be attained after eight years as a practicing 8th Dan Black Belt. This signifies grandmaster status.

10th Dan Black Belt

This is an honorary title that is only bestowed upon those that have contributed a good portion of their life to the advancement of Taekwondo and the martial arts community as a whole. It is the highest achievement and highest rank in Taekwondo.

Taekwondo Competitions

There are a handful of Taekwondo competitions that may peak your interest while practicing martial arts.


Kyorugi is what you would recognize as sparring. It’s when two opponents square off against each other to execute any of the Taekwondo techniques you’ve learned. It’s not necessarily for combat since it is give and take and is more of a game. It is a way to test your form, technique, skills, balance and power in front of your instructor.


This is probably the most popular of the competitions because it involves breaking objects. Everyone has seen this on TV and includes breaking wooden boards most of the time. This is to demonstrate technique and strength.


In this competition, you showcase the most complicated techniques and movements you’ve learned in Taekwondo. It includes both aggressive and defensive movements and can be executed by one person or a group. There is also freestyle Poomsae where you get to create your own moves and techniques.

Benefits of Taekwondo

There are so many benefits that result from training in Taekwondo that it’s impossible to list them all. Some of these benefits include improved:

  1. Physical Fitness
  2. Hard Work and Dedication
  3. Coordination
  4. Balance
  5. Strength
  6. Self Discipline
  7. Self Confidence
  8. Focus
  9. Concentration
  10. Self Defense

The History of Taekwondo

Taekwondo is a combative Korean martial arts form developed by Korean martial artists. It originated in the 1940’s and 1950’s which make it a relatively modern form of martial arts. It’s also one of the most popular and most practiced traditional martial arts today.

It is South Korea’s national sport but it’s also practiced by North Koreans. Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on kicking and punching techniques, as well as its use of kicks. The kicks vary from head-height kicks, to jumping, spinning and fast kicking techniques.

The oldest governing body for Taekwondo is the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) which was formed in 1959. It was a collaborative effort by representatives from the nine original kwans or martial arts schools in South Korea.

Some people confuse Taekwondo with some of the Japanese martial arts, particularly Karate. Jiu Jitsu isn’t one of these forms since it focuses on close combat and is widely different than both Taekwondo and Karate.

Editor’s Thoughts and Final Words

Taekwondo is not as famous as other martial art forms like Karate and Jiu Jitsu but engulfing yourself in this martial art form (or any other) brings you so many lifelong benefits. Being that I am a former Taekwondo student, I can attest to the many benefits I still enjoy today.

Personally, I enjoyed learning and benefiting from improving my self-discipline, focus and concentration. There are also the practical aspects of martial arts such as learning self-defense and respect for others.

Taekwondo skills like these are simply priceless . . .


How long does it take to get a black belt in Taekwondo?

This will vary but assuming you are targeting your first black belt, the WT (World Taekwondo or WT Taekwondo) website states that it should take you approximately 3 years. This assumes you are averaging 40 hours of training per month. Students take an average time of approximately 4 years.

How long does it take to get each belt in Taekwondo?

It takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years to earn a black belt in Taekwondo, with most students taking 4 years to complete the journey. The time frame to progress through the lower belts (white, yellow, green and blue) is generally shorter. Most students take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to earn the lower belts.

How long does it take to go from a white belt to a yellow belt in Taekwondo?

The time it takes to progress from a white belt to a yellow belt in Taekwondo can vary depending on the individual’s dedication and training frequency. Generally, it takes around 3 months to make this transition.

How do you get belts in Taekwondo?

There are generally three ways to get belts in Taekwondo. The first is by taking a test given by your instructor. The second is by participating in a tournament and the third is by being promoted by your instructor. Typically this happens in the form of promotion tests.

How good is a blue belt in Taekwondo?

A blue belt in Taekwondo is considered to be a really good achievement. It shows that the person has dedicated themselves to learning the art and has achieved a certain level of proficiency. This includes mastering the most advanced techniques.

What do the Taekwondo belt stripes mean?

The Taekwondo belt stripes are symbols that show a student’s progress in Taekwondo. The number of stripes on a student’s belt corresponds to the number of times they have advanced in rank.