Your Belt Level Ranking to Black Belt and Beyond

The philosophy of the Tang Soo Do Ranking System is based on Nature. A degree holder of a color belt under black belt is called a “Gup.” Once a belt holder achieves the black belt ranking, they enter the “Dan” system of ranking.

Beginner Belts

White Belt - 10th Gup

The first belt in your journey to Black Belt is White Belt.

White is the color of purity, novice and hidden potential … the primitive stage of development. The absence of color signifies the student as a seed lying dormant under the Winter snow.


Yellow Belt & Yellow Stripe - 9th Gup

The second belt in your journey to Black Belt is Yellow Belt. The third belt level is Yellow Stripe where an orange stripe is added to the yellow belt.

Yellow and Orange are the colors of the warming sun … a period between Winter and Spring. Yellow symbolizes the initial growth, a new life emerging. This is when the Yellow belt student first begins to reveal their newfound knowledge.


Orange Belt & Orange Stripe - 8th & 7th Gup

The fourth belt level in your journey to Black Belt is Orange Belt. The fifth belt level is Orange Stripe where a green stripe is added to the orange belt

Orange represents the knowledge that begins to emerge like the budding of a young plant. Students have a basic knowledge of beginning techniques.


Intermediate Belts

Green Belt, Green 1 Stripe & Green 2 Stripe - 6th, 5th, & 4th Gup

The sixth belt level in your journey to Black Belt is Green Belt. The seventh belt level is Green 1 Stripe where a red stripe is added to the green belt. The eighth belt level is Green 2 Stripe where a second red stripe is added above the first red stripe on the green belt.

Green represents Spring – the color of life and vigor. It symbolizes the flourishing of the plant. It is during this level that the most rapid development occurs. The transition from Winter to Spring is also reflected in the student’s uniform with the addition of a Green trim.


Advanced Belts

Red Belt through Red 4 Stripe - 3rd, 2nd, & 1st Gup

The ninth belt level in your journey to Black Belt is Red Belt. There are eight stripes earned after receiving Red Belt. They are Red Gold, Red 1 Stripe, Red 1 Stripe w/Gold, Red 2 Stripe, Red 2 Stripe w/Gold, Red 3 Stripe, Red 3 Stripe w/Gold and Red 4 Stripe.

Red represents Summer and means ripening, yang or active. It is the color of energy and vitality. It symbolizes the flowering of a strong plant. A student’s power and techniques begin to bloom as they begin to mature as martial artists. The beauty of the plant is evident for all to see. Now the student begins his/her preparation of mind and body for the final step needed to attain the rank of black belt. The transition from Spring to Summer is also reflected in a change in the student’s uniform with the addition of a Red trim.

Black Belt and Beyond

the Ultimate Goal

Cho Dan - 1st Degree Black Belt

Midnight Blue represents Autumn – it reflects maturity, calm, passiveness, and the time of harvest. It is the color of the clear evening sky. It symbolizes a goal that the plant strives to reach, yet may never attain – infinity and moving to perfection. It is this Quest for Perfection that epitomizes Tang Soo Do.


A practitioner of Tang Soo Do must never be satisfied or complacent. Rather he/she must continually strive to be better. This is why the final belt in Tang Soo Do is midnight blue and not black. Black symbolizes mastering of everything – death and finality. Black cannot be altered by adding any other color – it is always black. On the other hand, one can add more color to navy blue to make it darker and darker.

The training of a Tang Soo Do black belt is never final. A true Black belt never stops learning, training or improving his/her technique – never becomes stagnate in his/her physical, mental and spiritual ability. Midnight Blue is the last color change which is reflected not only in the belt color change, but an addition of the Midnight Blue to the trim of the student’s uniform. The student enters the “Dan” system of ranking and a new journey of enlightenment begins.


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