Explanation of Tenets of Taekwondo
Martial artists are expected to conduct themselves modestly and politely in all personal interactions. We must be slow to anger and quick to forgive. We should strive to be leaders in our communities, schools, and places of business, setting examples for others. Our lives should be full of good deeds, both large and small, as a reflection of standards we have set for ourselves.
Tradition holds that those who seek knowledge in the martial arts are persons of high character. In China, many of the most highly skilled “masters” had deep moral and religious belief systems. In Japan, those who were in the rank of warrior class were people of high character and lived by strict codes of ethics. In Korea, the heritage of the Hwa Rang Do youth group helped unify the three kingdoms of Korea in the year 688 A.D. They traveled throughout the country with the purpose of cultivating moral and patriotic ideas among the Korean youth. Those who decide to follow in the footsteps of other martial artists must be honest and pure of mind and spirit, seeking to rid themselves of vice and impure motives in their lives.
The very nature of marital arts training requires the student to demonstrate perseverance, while also strengthening it daily. Each day there are new challenges before us, both in and out of the training hall. From the success earned through daily achievements, we are rewarded with high levels of perseverance that are transposed to all areas of our lives.
With each passing year, the practicing martial artist becomes more skilled, soon possessing an extraordinary arsenal of martial techniques and skill. As such, we must also possess high levels of self-control in order to keep our gifts harnessed until required to protect others or ourselves from harm in the face of aggression and violence.
This is perseverance fully matured. Even in the face of certain defeat, overwhelming odds, and death, the martial artist must be bold of spirit and face the challenge with tenacity and conviction. The martial artist understands that there are some things that cannot be avoided and require confrontation even though defeat is certain. This is the glory of the martial spirit and even in defeat there is no shame.
Taekwondo Grading/Belt System
To the Korean people Taekwondo is more than a mere use of skilled movements. It also implies a way of thinking and life, particularly in instilling a concept and spirit of strict self-imposed discipline and an ideal of noble moral re-armament.
In these days of violence and intimidation, which seem to plague our modern societies, Taekwondo enables the weak to possess a fine weapon to defend himself or herself and defeat the opponent as well. When wrongly applied it can be a lethal weapon.
There are six orders of Belts: White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Black. The colors have not been arbitrarily chosen. They are, in fact, steeped in tradition. The colors of black, red and clue are the various levels of hierarchy during the Koguryo and Silla Dynasties.
The White Belt (10th Kup) represents the blank slate of a new student. It signifies innocence, as that of the beginner student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwondo.
The Yellow Belt (8th Kup) represents earth, the ground upon which your increasing abilities in Taekwondo takes root and grows. It signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Taekwondo foundation is being laid.
The Green Belt (6th Kup) represents the plant that grows from the ground as their mastery further develops. It signifies the plant’s growth as the Taekwondo skill begins to develop.
The Blue Belt (4th Kup) represents the sky to which the keen practitioner stretches and reaches toward as their abilities grow. It signifies the heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwondo progresses.
The Red Belt (2nd Kup) represents danger. As the students skills have grown they must also be tempered by self-control. Red is also a warning to the student that they are in many ways as much a danger to themselves as others. It signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away. Between each of the Belts are the “tag” or “stripe” Belts: yellow tag, green tag, blue tag, red tag, and black tag. In some countries, such as America, it is common to see the tags replaced with full color Belts such as purple, orange, brown, and so on.
The Black Belt is, in the public mind, considered a martial arts “master,” but in Taekwondo they are considered advanced students. Black, opposite to white, signifying the maturity and proficiency in Taekwondo. It also indicates the wearers imperviousness to darkness and fear.
1st–3rd DAN are (assistant) instructors, or teachers. They are sometimes referred to as “advanced learners,” commonly lacking only the years of experience (6+) to become a master grade and full instructor.
From 4th–6th DAN the practitioner is considered a “master.” Usually this is the minimum grade that is required to grade students of Kup rank, though a panel can include lower dan grades as well.
From 7th–9th DAN the practitioner is a grand master.