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What are the ATA Taekwondo Belts? Order and Rank

ATA taekwondo belts order and rank

Martial arts are distinguished by their rank systems, representing a practitioner’s journey and expertise. The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is a notable organization that employs this system, embodied in ATA Taekwondo Belts. Established to foster both physical and mental growth, ATA Taekwondo and its belt ranks have evolved into a worldwide influencer in martial arts education.

We at FamilyProz have already covered the Taekwondo Belt System as well as giving a more detailed guide specifically on the WTF Taekwondo Belt System. In this article, we will specifically cover the ATA Taekwondo belt order, its meaning, and its requirements.

What is the order of ATA Taekwondo Belts?

The ATA Taekwondo belt order is as follows:

  • White Belt – 9th Grade – (Songahm-1)
  • Orange Belt – 8th Grade – (Songahm-2)
  • Yellow Belt – 7th Grade – (Songahm-3)
  • Camouflage Belt – 6th Grade – (Songahm-4)
  • Green Belt – 5th Grade – (Songahm-5)
  • Purple Belt – 4th Grade – (Inwha-1)
  • Blue Belt – 3rd Grade – (Inwha-2)
  • Brown Belt – 2nd Grade – (Choong Jung-1)
  • Red Belt – 1st Grade – (Choong Jung-2)
  • 1st Degree Black Belt – (Shim Jun)

How Many Belts are there in ATA Taekwondo?

The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) employs a rank system, which consists of two interconnected series: the colored belt series and the black belt series. Each of these series comprises nine ranks. This systematic approach allows students to set and achieve shorter-term goals, thereby fostering motivation and a sense of accomplishment as they advance through the ranks.

All ATA Taekwondo Belts in color order. Including the timeline for ATA Taekwondo ranks

What is the meaning of Belt Colors in ATA Taekwondo?

Each color belt in the ATA Taekwondo system carries a symbolic meaning that parallels the growth of a pine tree—a powerful metaphor for a student’s journey of development. Let’s delve into the significance of each color belt:

  • White Belt (Songahm 1): Symbolizes purity and the beginning of the martial arts journey. Similar to a seed being planted, this belt signifies the initial stages of growth.
  • Orange Belt (Songahm 2): Represents the sunrise, as the student’s knowledge starts to bloom. This belt conveys the beauty and potential of growth without the full display of power.
  • Yellow Belt (Songahm 3): Reflects the seedling’s exposure to sunlight, signifying increased awareness and progress in training.
  • Camouflage Belt (Songahm 4): Compares the student to a sapling hidden amidst taller trees, symbolizing the struggle to rise and overcome challenges.
  • Green Belt (Songahm 5): Marks the development and strengthening of the pine tree, signifying the student’s growth and proficiency.
  • Purple Belt (Inwha 1): Signifies the journey’s midpoint, where the path becomes steeper. This belt represents dedication and progress towards higher goals.
  • Blue Belt (Inwha 2): Represents reaching for the sky and aiming for new heights, akin to the pine tree’s upward growth.
  • Brown Belt (Choong Jung 1): Reflects firm grounding, much like a tree’s deep roots, symbolizing stability and mastery.
  • Red Belt (Choong Jung 2): Signifies the sunset, symbolizing the culmination of the first phase of growth and the transition to advanced training.

What are the requirements for ATA Taekwondo belts?

ATA Taekwondo belt advancement involves meeting specific criteria, including a minimum training time, learning unique forms for each belt, mastering new kicks, and demonstrating increasingly challenging board breaks. These requirements ensure a well-rounded progression and showcase a practitioner’s dedication, growth, and proficiency.


White Belt (9th Grade – Songahm-1)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 2 Months
  • Experience Needed: Basic introduction to Taekwondo techniques and training.
  • Form Required: Songahm 1

Orange Belt (8th Grade – Songahm-2)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 4 Months
  • Experience Needed: Building on basics, refining techniques, and demonstrating fundamental skills.
  • Form Required: Songahm 2

Yellow Belt (7th Grade – Songahm-3)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 6 Months
  • Experience Needed: Developing more advanced techniques and understanding of forms.
  • Form Required: Songahm 3

Camouflage Belt (6th Grade – Songahm-4)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 8 Months
  • Experience Needed: Improved execution of techniques and increased physical fitness.
  • Form Required: Songahm 4

Green Belt (5th Grade – Songahm-5)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 10 Months
  • Experience Needed: Proficiency in forms, sparring, and self-defense techniques.
  • Form Required: Songahm 5

Purple Belt (4th Grade – Inwha-1)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 12 Months
  • Experience Needed: Enhanced technique accuracy and strategic understanding in sparring.
  • Form Required: INWHA 1

Blue Belt (3rd Grade – Inwha-2)

  • Time to Advance: 2 Months
  • Total Time: 14 Months
  • Experience Needed: Continued development of advanced techniques, tactics, and sparring skills.
  • Form Required: INWHA 2

Brown Belt (2nd Grade – Choong Jung-1)

  • Time to Advance: 6 Months
  • Total Time: 1.5 Years
  • Experience Needed: Refinement of techniques, deeper understanding of forms and application.
  • Form Required: Choong Jung 1

Red Belt (1st Grade – Choong Jung-2)

  • Time to Advance: 6 Months
  • Total Time: 2 Years
  • Experience Needed: Mastery of techniques, increased focus on teaching and mentoring.
  • Form Required: Choong Jung 2

Black Belt (1st Dan)

  • Time to Advance: 1-2 Years
  • Total Time: 2.5 – 3 Years
  • Experience Needed: Profound expertise in Taekwondo techniques, forms, and instruction.


Board Breaking

Board breaking in ATA Taekwondo serves as a practical demonstration of a student’s precise execution and power in performing various Taekwondo techniques. This aspect of training translates theoretical knowledge into tangible results, providing a visual representation of a student’s growth and proficiency.

Re-breakable boards create a standardized platform for evaluating the accuracy of techniques during board breaking. With consistent difficulty levels, students can focus on refining their execution rather than adapting to varying board strengths. This approach enhances the training experience by emphasizing technique precision.

ATA Taekwondo’s board breaking regulations vary based on the practitioner’s rank. Each rank requires breaking one or more stations, with the number and level of difficulty increasing as practitioners advance. During testing, students are given a limited number of attempts to break the boards, which is factored into their overall evaluation.

ATA Taekwondo Black Belt Levels

In ATA Taekwondo, the black belt levels stand as a testament to mastery. Grading up to the first Dan Black Belt in ATA taekwondo takes around 3 years which is faster than WTF and ITF Taekwondo. Each black belt degree symbolizes a higher echelon of skill and understanding, reflecting the practitioner’s commitment to constant improvement.

The black belt degrees in ATA Taekwondo are divided into a structured progression, ranging from the 1st degree to the 9th degree.

Advancing through the black belt degrees entails meeting specific time requirements at each level. To progress from one degree to the next, practitioners must spend a designated duration actively practicing and refining their Taekwondo skills. For instance, to move from the 1st to the 2nd degree, a practitioner must dedicate a year of rigorous training. This time-based eligibility criterion ensures that practitioners truly internalize the essence of each degree before ascending to the next, embodying the spirit of mastery that defines ATA Taekwondo.

Forms in ATA Taekwondo:

Understanding Poom-Sae (Forms):

ATA Taekwondo incorporates “poom-sae,” which are structured patterns of movements that combine physical techniques with mental discipline. Poom-sae serves as a foundational element of training, fostering the development of both physical techniques and mental attributes.

Poom-sae involves executing a predetermined sequence of techniques, including blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances. Beyond showcasing martial techniques, these forms also emphasize mental attributes like balance, coordination, discipline, strategy, and focus. Practitioners progress through various belt levels by mastering increasingly intricate forms, showcasing their progress and skill advancement.

Symbolism within Songahm Forms:

The 18 Songahm forms, crafted by Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee, hold meaning that mirrors a practitioner’s progression from initiation to expertise. As practitioners climb the ranks, the forms become progressively more complex, reflecting their growth. This progression also holds a mirror to Korean cultural values and traditions.

The utilization of numbers within the forms, like the 18 moves in the 9th-grade white belt form, is a nod to Korean cultural symbolism. The culmination of these forms creates the Songahm Star, symbolizing balance and harmony through its intricate design.

To summarize, the Songahm forms encompass more than just physical routines. They embody the core teachings of ATA Taekwondo, blending technical prowess with cultural significance. As practitioners advance through the forms, they refine their skills and deepen their understanding of the philosophy ingrained in Songahm Taekwondo.

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