In TaeKwon Do, character development, fortitude, tenacity, and technique are graded as well as individual capacity. The promotional scale is divided into nineteen ranks – 10 grades (Gups) and nine degrees (Dans). Gup ranks start at 10th grade and promote up to 1st grade. Degrees begin with the first degree (Dan) and ends with the ultimate ninth degree (Dan). New students will start at the rank of 10th Gup – White Belt.
9.5th Gup 1st Yellow Stripe
This is an unofficial rank serving as a checkpoint while learning the fundamental movements. A
small stepping stone to make learning the movements more achievable in preparation for the first
pattern. This rank can be omitted at the discretion of the instructors given the student shows effort,
knowledge and discipline of a 9th Gup.
Probationary Black Belt
Transitioning from Gups to Dans
The rank of probationary is when the student becomes a leader. They are given guidance on how to
be the best instructor. This is the time when they look within themselves to discover just how much
Taekwon-do means to them. In order to be promoted to the rank of 1 st Degree Black Belt, the
student must assist with instructing classes, be a role model to the other students, and demonstrate
all of the required patterns and techniques. In addition they are expected to attend tournaments,
demonstrations, and other TKD events.
Why 9 Levels of Black?
There is significance in the numbering system. With degree, the number 9 is not only the
highest single digit number but is also the number 3 multiplied by 3. In the Orient, three is
the most esteemed of all the numbers. The Chinese character ‘3’ contains three lines: the
upper line symbolizes the heaven, the middle line mortals, and the bottom line earth.