The Taekwon-Do system of rank is divided up into 19 stages. 10 of these are colour belt stages, known as Kup and 9 belong to black belt level, known as Dan. Colour belt level begins at 10th Kup (white belt), the entry level, and works toward 1st Kup (red belt black tag). Black belt level begins with 1st Dan, and works toward the ultimate attainment in Taekwon-Do, 9th Dan Grandmaster.
Like many aspects of Taekwon-Do, the grading system holds a key significance. The number 3 is regarded as the most esteemed number in oriental tradition. The Chinese character for three represents the heavens, mortals and the earth. It is said that he who is successful in living in harmony with all three will aspire to be king. Also when the number 3 is multiplied by itself you get 9, the highest possible rank in Taekwon-Do.
See images above for the various stages of the colour belts. You begin your practice of Taekwon-Do as a white belt.
SIGNIFICANCE OF BELT COLOURS
There are six belts: white, yellow, green, blue, red and black. White is given to beginners and black is given to students who have progressed through the grades and have a solid foundation for learning the techniques of Taekwon-Do.
The definition of the belts are as follows :
Signifies innocence, as that of the beginning student who has no previous knowledge of Taekwon-Do.
Signifies the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the foundation of Taekwon-Do is being laid.
Signifies the plant's growth as Taekwon-Do skills begin to develop.
Signifies the Heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Taekwon-Do progresses.
Signifies Danger, cautioning the the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away.
Opposite of white, therefore signifying the maturity and proficiency in Taekwon-Do, also indicates the wearer's imperviousness to darkness and fear.
Students must grade through the following belts in the following order:
white belt given to the beginner (10th Kup)
white belt yellow tags (9th Kup)
yellow belt (8th Kup)
yellow belt green tags (7th Kup)
green belt (6th Kup)
green belt blue tags (5th Kup)
blue belt (4th Kup))
blue belt red tags (3rd Kup)
red belt (2nd Kup)
red belt black tags (1st Kup)
through to Black Belt (1st dan/degree).