The philosophy of the Tang Soo Do Ranking System is based on nature. Original Tang Soo Do had four colored belts: White, Green, Red and Midnight Blue. The Orange belt was added in 1975 as an encouragement and motivation for beginners. Some Tang Soo Do and Soo Bahk Do schools use a Yellow belt in place of the Orange belt. We've included both Ranking Systems and their philosophies.

White Belt      -- White represents Winter. Means emptiness, hidden potential, purity.
Orange Belt    -- Orange represents between Winter and Spring.
Green Belt      -- Green represents Spring. Means growth, spreading, advancement.
Red Belt         -- Red represents Summer. Means ripening, head, active.
Midnight Blue -- Belt Midnight Blue represents Autumn. Means maturity, calm, passive, harvest.

White Belt White, traditionally symbolic of purity and innocence, represents the student of Tang Soo Do as a seed, freshly planted in the earth.
Yellow Belt Yellow is the initial growth of the seed. Yellow represents the second stage of physical and mental development.
Green Belt Green is the color of life and vigor. Green is symbolic of the flourishing of the plant. It is during the green belt level that the most rapid development occurs.
Red Belt Red is the color of energy and vitality. It represents the flowering of a strong plant. The beauty of the plant at this stage is evident for all to see.
Midnight Blue Belt Midnight blue is the color of the evening sky. It is a goal that the plant strives to reach yet may never attain. Midnight blue symbolizes infinity and 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 must continually strive to be better.

Our Tang Soo Do belt system in its progression from white to midnight blue represents the cycle of the seasons and the educational steps of learning. Each color stands for a specific stage of achievements. In this way we realize an essential concept of Korean philosophy, i.e., that which is born must grow and learn, and reach maturity. In the World system, white belt is first year of school and black belt is a graduate.

WHITE - Beginner's belt color. White represents a primitive stage ready to learn and grow. It is the dormant stage of a new member.
PURPLE - Purple represents new growth, like the spring of the seasons. The member has new knowledge to grow and a sense of Tang Soo Do direction is developed.
GREEN - Green represents the speedy development of youth as summer arrives, a sense of pride has come over the member.
RED - Red represents power, stability; agility, weight and wisdom. This is like the high school years. The member begins to flower and bloom.
DARK BLUE - (Black Belt) Dark Blue represents maturity, respect, honor. It is the completion of a goal or one stage of life. It is a new pathway to higher ranks of black belt. Its graduating from high school and going on to college to become a master. The mind is clear and calm. The body is a machine that can move and react in a split second.
(Some Tang Soo Do schools award a black belt for Dan holders.)

Belt Levels

It takes a minimum of thirty months (two and 1/2 years) for a student to progress from white to midnight blue belt. The testing time is approximately three months between ranks. After that at least two more years for E dan, then three more years for Sam dan. It takes a minimum of seven years before the student reaches the rank of third degree Midnight Blue Belt.

Beginning Levels

10th gup - White belt
9th gup - White belt with one blue stripe
8th gup - Yellow or Orange belt
7th gup - Yellow or Orange belt with one blue stripe

Intermediate Levels  

6th gup - Green belt
5th gup - Green belt with one blue stripe
4th gup - Green belt with two blue stripes
3rd gup - Red belt
2nd gup - Red belt with one blue stripe
1st gup - Red belt with two blue stripes

Advanced Levels

Cho Dan (1st degree) - Midnight blue (or black belt /Kyo Sa Nim)
E Dan (2nd degree)   - Midnight blue (or black belt with two white stripes)
Sam dan (3rd degree) - Midnight blue (or black belt with three white stripes)
Sa Dan (4th degree)   - Midnight blue (or black belt with a red stripe down the center of the belt)-, Master/Sa Bom Nim)

Copyright, Mark McGee , 1995-96 / [email protected]

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Philippine Moo Duk Kwan Soo Bahk Do, Inc.
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World Moo Duk Kwan, Inc.
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