WTF Taekwondo 1.jpg
A WTF taekwondo sparring match
Also known as Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do
Focus Striking (Kicking)
Country of origin Korea
Olympic sport Since 2000 (WTF regulations)
Hangul 태권도
Hanja 跆拳道
Revised Romanization




Ranks, belts, and promotion

Taekwondo ranks are typically separated into "junior" and "senior," or "student" and "instructor," sections. The junior section typically consists of ten ranks indicated by the Korean word geup 급 (also Romanized as gup or kup). The junior ranks are usually identified by belts of various colors, depending on the school, so these ranks are sometimes called "color belts". Geup rank may be indicated by stripes on belts rather than by colored belts. Students begin at tenth geup (often indicated by a white belt) and advance toward first geup (often indicated by a red belt with a black stripe).

The senior section is typically made up of nine ranks. These ranks are called dan 단, also referred to as "black belts" or "degrees" (as in "third dan" or "third-degree black belt"). Black belts begin at first degree and advance to second, third, and so on. The degree is often indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or other methods; but sometimes black belts are plain and unadorned regardless of rank.

To advance from one rank to the next, students typically complete promotion tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before a panel of judges or their teacher. Promotion tests vary from school to school, but may include such elements as the execution of patterns, which combine various techniques in specific sequences; the breaking of boards to demonstrate the ability to use techniques with both power and control; sparring and self-defense to demonstrate the practical application and control of techniques; and answering questions on terminology, concepts and history to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the art. For higher dan tests, students are sometimes required to take a written test or submit a research paper in addition to taking the practical test.

Promotion from one geup to the next can proceed rapidly in some schools, since schools often allow geup promotions every two, three, or four months. Students of geup rank learn the most basic techniques first, then move on to more advanced techniques as they approach first dan. Many of the older and more traditional schools often take longer to allow students to test for higher ranks than newer, more contemporary schools, as they may not have the required testing intervals.

In contrast, promotion from one dan to the next can take years. The general rule is that a black belt may advance from one rank to the next only after the number of years equivalent to the current rank. For example, a newly-promoted third-degree black belt may not be allowed to advance to fourth-degree until four years have passed. Some organizations also have age requirements related to dan promotions, and may grant younger students poom 품 (junior black belt) ranks rather than dan ranks until they reach a certain age.

Black belt ranks may have titles associated with them, such as "master" and "instructor" but taekwondo organizations vary widely in rules and standards when it comes to ranks and titles. What holds true in one organization may not hold true in another, as is the case in many martial art systems. For example, achieving first dan ranking with three years' training might be typical in one organization, but fast in another organization, and likewise for other ranks. Similarly, the title for a given dan rank in one organization might not be the same as the title for that dan rank in another organization.

In the International Taekwon-Do Federation, instructors holding 1st to 3rd dan are called Boosabum (assistant instructor), those holding 4th to 6th dan are called Sabum (Instructor), those holding 7th to 8th dan are called Sahyun (master), and those holding 9th dan are called Saseong (grand master). This system does not, however, necessarily apply to other taekwondo organizations.


Since taekwondo is developed in several different kwans, there are several different expressions of taekwondo philosophy. For example, the tenets of the ITF are said to be summed up by the last two phrases in the ITF Student Oath: "I shall be a champion of justice and freedom" and "I shall build a better and more peaceful world." Alternatively, the Kukkiwon philosophy, the Han Philosophy, is based on Eastern principles of samje (삼제, three elements), eum (음, yin; negative or darkness) and yang (양, positive or brightness) with samjae referring to cheon (천, sky or heaven), ji (지, the earth), and in (인, a man or a person). The origins of these concepts originate from the Chinese classic "I Ching" which is considered to be an important part of the canon of East Asian Philosophy.


Taekwondo competition typically involves sparring, breaking, patterns, and self-defense (hosinsul). In Olympic taekwondo competition, however, only sparring (using WTF competition rules) is contested.

World Taekwondo Federation

International Taekwon-Do Federation

Other organizations

US Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) competitions are very similar, except that different styles of pads and gear are allowed. Any gear that has the Olympic symbol and not the WTF logo on it is approved.

Apart from WTF and ITF tournaments, major taekwondo competitions (all featuring WTF taekwondo only) include:


Although taekwondo competitors have an apparently substantial risk of injury, most injuries are minor. A 2009 meta-analysis reported that an average of about 8% of competitors are injured, per exposure to competition; age, gender, and level of play did not significantly affect the injury rate. The legs are the most common location for injuries, and bruising is the most common injury type.

Injuries may occur if students are taught to block punches in a formal manner (chamber position, perfect angles, etc.) even when sparring. When comparing the speed of a punch and the reaction time and time taken to block effectively, it is difficult to block a punch. Many taekwondo schools teach students blocking for grading and classwork and dodging or parrying for sparring.

Korean commands

In taekwondo, Korean language commands are often used. Korean numerals may be used as prompts or commands. Often, students count in Korean during their class, and during tests they are usually asked what certain Korean words (used in class) mean. These words are fairly common amongst taekwondo schools, but pronunciation can vary greatly.

See also


a. The name taekwondo is also written as taekwon-do, tae kwon-do, or tae kwon do by various organizations, based on historical, philosophical, or political reasons.


External links

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