This guy on our recent trip to the DPRK (North Korea) decided to take part in a demonstration at the TKD palace in Pyongyang. He regretted it. Everyone else enjoyed it immensely.
The ITF ranking system consists of six solid colour belts; white, yellow, green, blue, red, and black.
Coloured belt ranks are called in English grades and in Korean geup (급) (this is – however – usually incorrectly spelled gup or kup), whereas black belt ranks are called ranks/dan (단):
|10th kup||White – Signifies innocence, as that of the beginning student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwon-Do. 3 months min requirement.|
|9th kup||White with yellow tag. 3 months min. requirement|
|8th kup||Yellow – Signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the foundation of Taekwon-Do is being laid. 4 months minimum requirement.|
|7th kup||Yellow with green tag. 4 months minimum requirement|
|6th kup||Green – Signifies the plant’s growth as Taekwon-Do skills begin to develop. 4 months minimum requirement.|
|5th kup||Green with blue tag. 4 months minimum requirement|
|4th kup||Blue – Signifies the Heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwon-Do progresses. 4 months minimum requirement.|
|3rd kup||Blue with red tag. 5 months minimum requirement|
|2nd kup||Red – Signifies Danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away. 6 months minimum requirement.|
|1st kup||Red with black tag. 6 months requirement|
|1st dan||Black – Opposite of white, therefore signifying maturity and proficiency in Taekwon-Do; also indicates the wearer’s imperviousness to darkness and fear.|
|2nd dan||Assistant Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 2 years)|
|3rd dan||Assistant Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 3 years)|
|4th dan||International Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 4 years). At this point, a person may become a “SaBum-Nim”|
|5th dan||Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 5 years)|
|6th dan||Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 6 years)|
|7th dan||Master Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 7 years)|
|8th dan||Senior Master Instructor (must remain at this rank at least 8 years)|
|9th dan||Grand Master|
In certain strains of ITF clubs, kup is spelled “gup”.
The reason for nine black belt degrees 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 one of the more esteemed numbers. The Chinese character for 3 is three horizontal lines, one above the other: 三. The bottom line represents earth; the middle line represents mortals; the upper line represents heaven. It was believed that a man who could unite the three realms in himself, would aspire or be reborn into a king; this is shown by the vertical lign connecting the realms in the character for king: 王.
Black belt promotion
Up to 8th dan, all ranks require the student to perform a test of all skills and knowledge up to their rank to be promoted. 9th 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.
According to an ITF Encyclopedia 4th degree may grade students up to 2nd degree. A 5th or 6th degree International Instructor may grade students up to 3rd degree, while a 7th degree Master may grade students up to 5th degree. An 8th degree Master may grade students up to 6th degree. Promotion to 7th degree or above must be done by the ITF’s Master Promotion Committee.