Everyone has heard of the colored belts that signify different skill levels in Tae Kwon Do and many martial arts, but not many people know exactly what these different ranks signify, particularly in Tae Kwon Do where they can be a little different than what you might expect. In addition to the skills they have gained in Tae Kwon Do martial arts in a physical sense, the belt color also reflects the progress they have made in understanding the philosophy of Tae Kwon Do. What this means is that you do not simply get an upgraded belt for spending enough time training? That is, belts are not like moving up through grades in school. There isn’t a yearly graduation or anything like that. Instead, to move up a belt, you have to show that you have mastered the skills that were part of the previous belt level. These can include different martial arts forms and basic moves, as well as excelling in sparring.
The different belt colors also have symbolic meanings. For example, a white belt signifies a pure, clean slate. That is, the student does not yet have any knowledge of Tae Kwon Do. As the student progress up the colors to black, he or she will gradually be mastering all of the skills present in Tae Kwon Do. When the black belt is attained, the significance is that the student has absorbed all of the knowledge about Tae Kwon Do that can be taught by his teachers, just as an object that is black absorbs all colors of light and doesn’t let any escape. After this, the black belt is still in training, but he or she must now learn on his own, gaining wisdom and seeking out new techniques and training methods to improve themselves.