Family of Professionals 

Sport, Taekwondo

Taekwondo Black Belt: What It takes to get one

A taekwondo Black Belt worn by a taekwondo master

In the world of martial arts, Taekwondo stands out as a respected and disciplined art form that emphasizes both technicality and mental fortitude. Central to the art is the Taekwondo black belt, symbolizing mastery and accomplishment. Aspiring practitioners embark on a journey that starts with a white belt and progresses through various colored belts, known as Geup stages, until they reach one of the most important achievements in the sport – the black belt or 1st Dan.

Taekwondo practitioners, known as taekwondoin, commit themselves to years of dedicated training, honing their skills, and developing a deep understanding of the art. This article explores the path to becoming a Taekwondo black belt, delving into the time and effort required, the significance of the black belt, and the various levels of Dan ranks in Taekwondo.

The Journey to the First Black Belt (1st Dan)

The path to becoming a Taekwondo black belt begins with a humble white belt, representing a blank canvas awaiting the strokes of mastery. From this starting point, taekwondoin progress through a series of Geup stages, each denoted by a colored belt. These stages serve as stepping stones, imparting essential techniques, forms, and knowledge, gradually molding the practitioner into a skilled martial artist.

The Geup stage belts (for ITF) typically include the following Taekwondo Belts:


  • 10th Geup – White Belt
  • 9th Geup – Yellow Belt
  • 8th Geup – Yellow Belt with Green Stripe
  • 7th Geup – Green Belt
  • 6th Geup – Green Belt with Blue Stripe
  • 5th Geup – Blue Belt
  • 4th Geup – Blue Belt with Red Stripe
  • 3rd Geup – Red Belt
  • 2nd Geup – Red Belt with Black Stripe
  • 1st Geup – Black Belt with Red Stripe
  • 1st Dan – Black Belt


For a more in-depth breakdown of the entire Taekwondo Belt system check out our article.

How long does it take to achieve a Taekwondo Black belt?

An Image of a taekwondo black belt for illustration

The duration of the journey towards the black belt varies based on individual dedication, consistent training, and the requirements set by the specific Taekwondo school or association. Typically, it takes between 3.5 (minimum) to 6 years of assiduous training, attending classes 2 to 3 times a week, for a practitioner to achieve the 1st Dan black belt. The time-frame for achieving a Taekwondo Black Belt is relatively shorter than some other martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu.

During this transformative journey, practitioners undergo rigorous physical training, developing attributes such as flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and agility. They master the fundamental techniques of blocking attacks with hands and feet, learning to defend and strike with precision and control.

Equally crucial to the physical aspect is mental training, emphasizing concentration, mindfulness, and an acute awareness of the present moment. Practitioners cultivate a positive and focused mindset, essential not only for success in their training but also in various aspects of life beyond the martial art.

Meaning and Significance of the Black Belt in Taekwondo

The attainment of the black belt in Taekwondo is a defining moment for any practitioner, signifying the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Beyond being a symbol of technical proficiency, the black belt holds deep significance both within the martial art and in the broader context of personal growth.

A Symbol of Accomplishment and Mastery

The black belt is universally recognized as a mark of accomplishment and mastery in Taekwondo. It represents the practitioners ability to execute complex techniques with precision, demonstrate advanced forms (poomsae), and exhibit proficiency in sparring and self-defense. As the highest rank in the Geup /Dan system, the black belt distinguishes a practitioner as an expert in the art.

Embodying the Taekwondo Tenets

Obtaining a black belt is not merely a reflection of technical skill; it also signifies the practitioner’s embrace of Taekwondo’s core principles. The tenets of Taekwondo, including courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and an indomitable spirit, become ingrained in the taekwondoin’s character. The black belt serves as a constant reminder to embody these tenets both on and off the training floor.

Qualification for International Competitions

For those with a passion for competition, the black belt is a gateway to the world stage. It serves as a requirement for participating in international competitions organized by World Taekwondo and other governing bodies. Taekwondoin who hold a black belt are eligible to represent their country and showcase their skills at the highest levels of the sport.

The Beginning of a Lifelong Journey

Contrary to popular belief, achieving a black belt is not the pinnacle of one’s Taekwondo journey; rather, it marks the beginning of a lifelong commitment to learning and growth. The black belt grants taekwondoin access to the prestigious Dan ranking system, comprising multiple levels of expertise. Each subsequent Dan level represents further development and refinement of skills, as well as deeper insights into the philosophy of Taekwondo.

Building Character and Leadership

As black belt holders, taekwondo practitioners are expected to exemplify leadership qualities and mentorship within their community. They become role models, guiding and inspiring junior practitioners in their martial arts journey. Sharing knowledge and expertise with others reinforces the values of humility and service ingrained in the Taekwondo tradition.

Advancing Beyond the 1st Dan: Dan Levels in Taekwondo

The 1st Dan black belt marks a significant milestone in taekwondo, but it is only the beginning of a journey that extends to higher levels of expertise. Taekwondo employs a Dan ranking system, with each Dan level representing a new stage of proficiency and understanding. Advancing through the Dan ranks requires continued dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to personal growth.

Overview of the Dan Ranking System

The Dan ranking system in Taekwondo comprises a series of levels, starting with the 1st Dan black belt and ascending to the 10th Dan. Each Dan level indicates an advanced degree of skill, knowledge, and experience within the art. Progressing through the Dan ranks is not only a testament to technical ability but also a reflection of a taekwondoin’s character and dedication to the art.

Timeframes and Requirements for Each Dan Level

The time required to move from one Dan level to the next varies based on the practitioner’s training and the standards set by their Taekwondo school or association. Generally, practitioners must wait a specific number of years between Dan tests to demonstrate their continued commitment to learning and growth. The waiting periods can range from one year between the 1st and 2nd Dan to several years between higher Dan levels. Going through the entire Dan system takes 55 years which would be the minimum amount of time one could expect to achieve a 10th Dan Black Belt.

Responsibilities and Privileges of Higher Dan Ranks

As taekwondoin climb through the Dan ranks, they take on increasing responsibilities within their Taekwondo community. Higher Dan holders may become instructors, guiding and mentoring junior students. At the 4th Dan level and above, practitioners have the opportunity to open their own Taekwondo schools and become recognized as masters of the art.

Junior Black Belt (Poom) System

For practitioners under 16, the Dan ranking system is replaced by the Junior Black Belt, also known as Pooms. Junior black belts serve as stepping stones to the adult Dan ranks once the practitioner turns 17. The Poom system allows young taekwondoin to progress and be recognized for their achievements before transitioning to the full Dan ranking system.

Lifelong Learning and Contribution

Advancement through the Dan ranks is not solely focused on individual achievement but also the contribution to the Taekwondo community. Higher Dan holders are expected to continue their learning journey while also sharing their knowledge and expertise with other practitioners. This process of continuous learning and giving back ensures the perpetuation of Taekwondo’s values and traditions.

Check out what a Taekwondo Black Belt grading looks like in this video from Connacht Taekwon-Do.

 What’s needed to achieve a Black Belt in Taekwondo

Achieving a black belt in Taekwondo is not an easy feat; it demands unwavering commitment, dedication, and perseverance. This section highlights the challenges and hard work involved in the journey to becoming a black belt.

Rigorous Training and Physical Demands

Taekwondo training is physically demanding, requiring practitioners to continually push their limits. Regular training sessions, ranging from two to three times a week, are necessary to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. Black belt candidates engage in frequent and intense workouts, sparring sessions, and form practice to refine their techniques.

Mental Discipline and Focus

Beyond the physical aspect, Taekwondo demands mental discipline and unwavering focus. Practitioners must maintain concentration during training, competitions, and grading tests. Mental fortitude is crucial to persevere through challenges and setbacks, essential elements of the black belt journey.

Mastery of Techniques and Forms

The path to the black belt requires mastery of a diverse range of techniques, including various strikes, kicks, blocks, and stances. Additionally, practitioners must learn and perfect a series of poomsae (forms) that showcase their technical prowess, balance, and control.

Endurance and Patience

Progressing through the colored belt ranks and ultimately achieving the black belt is not a quick process. It takes years (average 5+) of dedicated training, with minimum waiting periods between gradings. Endurance and patience are essential virtues as practitioners persevere through each stage of their development.

Balancing Life Commitments

Aspiring black belts often face the challenge of balancing training with other life commitments, such as education, work, or family responsibilities. Finding the time and dedication to maintain regular training while managing daily life can be a test of dedication.

Mentorship and Guidance

The black belt journey is not solitary; it relies on the mentorship and guidance of experienced instructors and fellow taekwondoin. Supportive mentors provide valuable feedback, motivation, and inspiration, nurturing the growth of aspiring black belt candidates.


In conclusion, the road to becoming a Taekwondo black belt is a challenging and transformative journey. It demands not only physical prowess but also mental discipline, dedication, and resilience. Embracing the hardships and staying committed to the path ultimately leads to the fulfillment of the black belt dream – a symbol of mastery, knowledge, and personal growth in the art of Taekwondo.

The Significance of Earning a Black Belt in Taekwondo

Earning a black belt in Taekwondo is a transformative and life-changing accomplishment that extends far beyond the physical aspects of martial arts. This section delves into the profound significance of achieving the black belt and its impact on personal development and the broader Taekwondo community.

Personal Growth and Character Development

The journey to the black belt is not just about mastering techniques; it is a path of self-discovery and personal growth. Practitioners learn essential life skills such as discipline, perseverance, humility, and respect. The pursuit of the black belt fosters a sense of determination and a “never give up” attitude that permeates all aspects of life.

Building Confidence and Self-Esteem

As practitioners progress through the belt ranks and overcome challenges, they gain confidence in their abilities. The attainment of the black belt instills a profound sense of accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and empowering individuals to tackle new endeavors with assurance.

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

Taekwondo promotes physical fitness and encourages practitioners to lead a healthy lifestyle. Regular training enhances cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and coordination. The black belt serves as a reminder of the commitment to maintaining a balanced and active lifestyle.

Cultivating Resilience

The rigorous training and dedication required to achieve the black belt teach practitioners to persevere through difficulties and setbacks. Resilience becomes a hallmark of a black belt, enabling individuals to bounce back from challenges and continue their growth journey.

Becoming Part of a Global Community

The black belt is not only a personal achievement but also a symbol of belonging to a global Taekwondo community. Black belt practitioners worldwide share a common dedication to the art and its principles. This sense of camaraderie extends across borders and cultures.

Inspiring Others

Black belt holders become role models, inspiring fellow practitioners and aspiring students alike. Their dedication to Taekwondo and their embodiment of its values motivate others to pursue their own martial arts journey and embrace personal growth.

Perpetuating the Legacy of Taekwondo:

Black belt practitioners play a crucial role in preserving the legacy of Taekwondo. Through their commitment to continuous learning and mentorship, they ensure the art’s principles and techniques are passed down to future generations.


In conclusion, earning a black belt in Taekwondo goes beyond physical prowess; it is a transformative experience that shapes character, fosters resilience, and inspires personal growth. The significance of the black belt extends beyond the individual practitioner, influencing the broader Taekwondo community and leaving a lasting impact on the martial art’s legacy.

The Path to Becoming a Grandmaster in Taekwondo

Achieving the prestigious rank of Grandmaster in Taekwondo is a journey that demands unwavering dedication and decades of commitment to the martial art. The title of Grandmaster is typically attained at the 7th Dan level, which requires practitioners to be 50 years old or older. To reach this esteemed rank, individuals must invest around 30 years of additional training and practice after obtaining their first Dan black belt.

At the core of this path lies the dedication to continuous learning. Grandmasters are lifelong students, continuously seeking to refine their skills and stay up-to-date with new insights and advancements in Taekwondo. They exhibit exceptional proficiency in intricate forms, complex techniques, and the practical application of Taekwondo principles.

What does being a Taekwondo Grandmaster entail

Beyond physical expertise, Grandmasters also excel as leaders within the Taekwondo community. They serve as mentors, guiding and inspiring students and instructors alike. Grandmasters embody the art’s values, fostering a positive and nurturing environment for practitioners to grow and excel.

Years of experience are a testament to a Grandmaster’s commitment to Taekwondo. The journey often spans decades of practice, mentorship, and contributions to the art. This process exemplifies the depth of commitment and mastery required to become a Grandmaster.

Engagement with the global Taekwondo community is also vital to a Grandmaster’s path. They collaborate with practitioners and instructors worldwide, sharing knowledge, promoting unity, and contributing to the international growth of the art. Their global perspective enriches their understanding of Taekwondo as a universal art form.

As Grandmasters ascend through the ranks, they become guardians of tradition, preserving the rich lineage of Taekwondo. They honor the art’s heritage, ensuring its teachings are passed down authentically to future generations.

To achieve the title of Grandmaster, candidates often undergo evaluations and recommendations from recognized Taekwondo bodies, schools, or associations. This validation serves as recognition of their exceptional contributions and dedication to the art. It is a testament to their profound impact on the Taekwondo community and their significant role in shaping its future.

How many Taekwondo Grandmasters are there?

Today, the number of Grandmasters is relatively small, with less than 1000 individuals holding this prestigious title worldwide. Each Grandmaster’s journey is a testament to their unparalleled commitment to Taekwondo and their invaluable contributions to the art’s legacy.

In conclusion, the path to becoming a Grandmaster in Taekwondo is a lifelong commitment to learning, leadership, and the preservation of tradition. Grandmasters exemplify the art’s highest principles and serve as guardians of its legacy, leaving a lasting impact on the Taekwondo community and inspiring generations of practitioners. Their journey is a testament to the profound dedication required to achieve the rank of Grandmaster and to contribute significantly to the martial art they love.

See a Grandmaster test for his 9th-degree Black Belt in this video from Grand Master G K Lee.

Importance of the Junior Black Belt in Taekwondo

In addition to the standard black belt ranks, Taekwondo offers a unique designation for young practitioners – the Junior Black Belt. This section explores the significance and transformative power of the Junior Black Belt in Taekwondo.

Recognizing Young Achievers

The Junior Black Belt is a special recognition for young practitioners under the age of 15, who have displayed exceptional dedication and skill in their Taekwondo journey. It serves as a testament to their commitment to the art at a young age.

Fostering Self-Discipline and Focus

Aspiring Junior Black Belts develop self-discipline and focus through their training. They learn to manage their time effectively, balancing academic responsibilities with rigorous Taekwondo practice.

Building Confidence and Resilience

Earning a Junior Black Belt instills a sense of accomplishment, boosting the confidence and self-esteem of young practitioners. It also cultivates resilience, teaching them to face challenges with determination.

Encouraging Lifelong Dedication

Achieving the Junior Black Belt encourages young practitioners to continue their journey in Taekwondo. It sparks a passion for the martial art and fosters a dedication that can last a lifetime.

Providing Role Models for Peers

Junior Black Belt holders become role models for their peers and inspire other young practitioners to aim for excellence in their training. Their achievements motivate others to pursue their goals in Taekwondo.

Instilling Values and Ethics

The Junior Black Belt journey emphasizes the importance of integrity, respect, and humility in martial arts practice. Young practitioners learn to embody these values both on and off the training mat.

Preparing for Future Leadership

Junior Black Belt holders are groomed to become future leaders in the Taekwondo community. Through mentorship and guidance, they learn essential leadership skills that will serve them well as they progress in their journey.


In conclusion, the Junior Black Belt in Taekwondo is a symbol of achievement, dedication, and potential for young practitioners under the age of 15. It fosters self-discipline, confidence, and resilience, preparing them for future leadership roles. As these young achievers continue their Taekwondo journey, they embody the transformative power of martial arts on their path to becoming skilled and responsible individuals.

Can You Start Taekwondo at Any Age?

One of the remarkable aspects of Taekwondo is its accessibility to practitioners of all ages. Whether you are a child, a teenager, an adult, or even a senior, Taekwondo offers a path for personal development, physical fitness, and self-defense. The martial art’s inclusive nature accommodates individuals with varying levels of athleticism, making it an excellent choice for people seeking to embark on a martial arts journey at any stage of life.

Taekwondo for Children and Teens

Children can start their Taekwondo journey as early as the age of four or five. Many Taekwondo schools offer specialized classes designed for young children (See the benefits of Taekwondo for kids), incorporating fun and age-appropriate activities to keep them engaged and motivated. As children progress through the colored belt ranks, they develop essential life skills, including discipline, respect, and self-confidence. Apart from taekwondo there are other amazing martial arts which provide development opportunities for kids; compare them in our best martial art for kids article.

Taekwondo for Adults

Adults who decide to begin Taekwondo training later in life can still achieve remarkable progress and benefits. While age may influence the pace of progress, the fundamental principles of Taekwondo, such as perseverance and self-control, remain equally applicable. Adults can expect improvements in physical fitness, stress management, and overall well-being through regular Taekwondo practice.

Adapting Training for Different Age Groups

Taekwondo instructors understand the unique needs and capabilities of different age groups. They tailor training sessions to suit the physical abilities and learning styles of their students. Younger practitioners might focus more on coordination and basic techniques, while older students can explore the art’s deeper philosophical aspects.

Benefits of Starting Taekwondo at a Young Age

Starting Taekwondo at a young age provides children with a solid foundation for personal growth and character development. The principles of respect, discipline, and perseverance learned on the training floor often carry over into other areas of life, such as academics and social interactions.

Embarking on the Taekwondo Journey as an Adult

For adults, starting Taekwondo can be an enriching experience, offering physical fitness, stress relief, and an opportunity to learn valuable self-defense skills. The sense of accomplishment achieved through each belt rank can be particularly rewarding, motivating adults to embrace a lifelong journey of self-improvement.

Many decide to train martial arts for defense, check out our article on the effectiveness of Taekwondo.

In conclusion, Taekwondo’s principles make it a martial art for everyone, regardless of age. Whether you are a young child, a teenager, a middle-aged adult, or a senior, Taekwondo offers a transformative journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and mastery of both body and mind.

Common Questions About Taekwondo Black Belts

As the pinnacle of achievement in Taekwondo, the black belt often sparks curiosity and questions among both aspiring practitioners and the general public. Let’s address some of the common questions related to black belts in Taekwondo:

Is there a higher belt than a black belt in Taekwondo?

The black belt represents the highest rank in the Dan ranking system of Taekwondo. However, there are multiple levels within the Dan system, ranging from 1st Dan to 10th Dan. Each subsequent Dan level denotes a higher degree of expertise and understanding within the art.

What black belts can you achieve in Taekwondo?

Taekwondo offers a range of black belts, from 1st Dan to 10th Dan. Each Dan level signifies the practitioner’s progression in technical skills, knowledge, and overall proficiency in the martial art.

How many belts are there in Taekwondo, and how are they earned?

The total number of belts in Taekwondo depends on the grading system used by each school or association. Typically, there are around ten colored belts (Geup ranks) leading up to the black belt (1st Dan). Students earn each belt by successfully demonstrating their proficiency in specific techniques, forms, and self-defense skills during grading tests.

How many moves are there in black belt Taekwondo?

The number of techniques, forms (poomsae), and self-defense maneuvers associated with the black belt level can vary based on the specific Taekwondo school or style being practiced. Each Dan level introduces practitioners to new and more complex forms, adding to their repertoire of techniques.

By addressing these questions, we aim to provide clarity and insight into the significance and journey of achieving a black belt in Taekwondo. The black belt is not only a symbol of skill and expertise but also a testament to the practitioner’s dedication to self-improvement and lifelong learning.

Share This Post

Related Articles