Taekwondo Blue Belt Meaning – Explained By An Expert


I’ve been training at Taekwondo for about two years now, and I’ve got really interested in the belt system.

All the belts have different meanings, but what’s the meaning of the blue belt?

In Taekwondo, the blue belt represents the sky and the heavens, towards which the tree grows as the student’s progress continues.

A blue belt is a mid-range belt in Taekwondo.

In this post, I’ll look at exactly what the blue belt means. This is both practical and philosophical. I’ll also look at the kinds of skills you’ll normally be expected to show at this blue belt stage and the meanings and skill levels of other belts.

The Meaning Of The Blue Belt In Taekwondo

The passage through the belt levels in taekwondo is seen as a personal journey in the acquiring of skills.

The two opposite ends of the spectrum are the white belt and the black belt. The white symbolizes innocence and a lack of knowledge.

On the other extreme, the black belt is the opposite of this innocence. The black color demonstrates full proficiency. There is also a symbolic nod toward the blackness of the belt meaning the owner can now battle against the forces of darkness.

The blue belt sits roughly between these two polar opposites.

At this point, the student has acquired many skills and proficiencies.

There is now a real sense of looking forward; the student has lain the foundation and is ready to push forward to achieve true mastery in the future.

Symbolically, then, the blue belt represents the blue of the sky and the heavens. That is what the student is aiming towards.

The student, in this analogy, is seen as a tree. Their roots and trunk are now strong, and their branches are now growing towards the heavens above.

Why All Belts have A Meaning In Taekwondo

Quite simply, belts demonstrate both a symbolic truth about a student’s level of progress and also show the level of skills they are likely to have mastered.

Symbolically

The symbolism of the belts tells a story. It is a story predominantly of growth.

The metaphor used is that a student is like a tree. They start as a seed, grow into a shoot, then a solid trunk, and then their branches grow towards the sky.

Practically

A belt quite simply shows the level of skills that a student has so far attained. This is a positive thing for a variety of reasons:

  • It is motivating for students to keep working on their skills and push forward
  • It creates a hierarchy in a training establishment
  • It allows students of a similar skill level to interact
  • It provides something for students to aspire to
  • It suggests the types of skills that a student is proficient in
  • It may help if students of a similar belt train together (though this is not always the case)

The Level Of Skills Required To Receive A Blue Belt

I should first say that belts are not standardized in every country.

However, that being said, here is a list of the skills you will normally witness for a student that is of blue belt level:

Blue Belt Skills

Students will normally be required to perform set forms (series of movements). They will also be proficient in a range of blocks, strikes, and kicks.

Blue Belt Forms

The main form at the blue belt level is the Taegeuk Yuk Jang

Simply put, this is a set series of movements, blocks, kicks, and strikes that a student performs individually with no opponent.

Here is what it looks like:

 Sparring

Students at this level will be engaging in 3 rounds or 2-minute sparring sessions, with a 45-second rest in between rounds

Blue Belt Blocks and Strikes

Palm Block

This is forcefully striking forwards with an open palm. This is designed for swift defense against strikes or kicks.

Double Low Block

This is kind of as the name suggests. You push both arms down at your sides rapidly, with fists clenched.

Cross Block

Simply put, the arms cross over each other to make an X in these blocks. Both hands and arms work together to defend strikes from different angles.

Palm Strike

A strike with an open palm. The base of the palm, where it joins the wrist, is the strike point.

Here’s a great demo of a palm strike:

Kicks

At the blue belt level, students are required to use kicks in combinations. I would recommend checking out all of the following on youtube if you want to learn them, as it is important to see them done well. But I will try to briefly describe each here:

Tornado kick and back kick

A tornado kick is a spinning kick. It can be used for both defense and offense (as many Taekwondo moves can be). A back kick is a high backwards kick, with your torso bent low over your front, non-kicking leg.

Rear leg round kick and double round kick

Round kicks mix body rotation with kicks in different directions.

Double round kick and turning back kick

A turning back kick is an aerial kick, combined with the double round kick, which is a rotational kick

How Are Your Skills Assessed For A Blue Belt?

Usually, skills are assessed in a ‘grading’.

Gradings are common across many martial arts. It is a set day when students are required to carry out a practical examination of their skills.

Usually, the skills are performed independently and will be judged by either your own instructor or a local instructor.

You are then usually told if you have passed your next training session, and awarded a belt (and sometimes a certificate) if you’ve been successful.

You will be told of what to perform ahead of the grading, so there should be no surprises.

It will often be a combination of the skills set out above.

How Long Will You Need To Train To Receive A Blue Belt In Taekwondo

There is no exact timeframe as to how long it will take you to achieve a blue belt.

I would say the average timeframe is around two years, but this will depend on a range of factors.

The amount of time required to receive a blue belt in taekwondo will be impacted by a few different things, including:

  • The minimum time that must pass is dictated by some taekwondo associations (depending on which part of the world you are in)
  • The amount of time the student is able to train
  • The speed at which the student is able to make progress in learning new skills
  • The quality of the teaching

Let’s look at a few of these issues in greater detail:

The Statutory Timeframe

In many countries, there will be a defined period of training and time that must take place in between gradings. This will also be the case for individual taekwondo training centers.

Though schools and academies will differ, the International Taekwondo Association defines the time required to advance between each belt from white to blue as the following:

Tae Kwon Do RankTime Required To Advance In Rank
  10th Gup White Belt2 Months (36 Hours)
  9th Gup White Belt With Yellow Stripe2 Months (36 Hours)
  8th Gup Yellow Belt2 Months (36 Hours)
  7th Gup Yellow Belt With Green Stripe2 Months (36 Hours)
  6th Gup Green Belt2 Months (36 Hours)
  5th Gup Green Belt With Blue Stripe3 Months (54 Hours)
  4th Gup Blue Belt6 Months (108 Hours)

(Source)

The minimum timeframe, then, to progress from white belt to blue belt using this timeframe is nineteen months. The Association suggests that this would equal 242 hours of training.

How Often You Are Able To Train

Clearly, an individual that could only train once per week would then take a much longer time to

The International Taekwondo Association states that a standard month of training would equal 18 hours. This would equate to about 4 hours per week. This could be done across four 1 hour sessions, or two 2-hour sessions.

Anyone training at this intensity would be in line to move through the belts at the timeframe they suggest.

Anyone training at a lower intensity (which I would suggest would be the majority of students) will move more slowly through the belts.

The Speed Of Learning

Of course, the amount of training alone does not indicate how quickly a student will progress and learn the skills. Many other characteristics are important such as:

-Your general health

-Your flexibility

-Your age (with younger students tending to progress at faster speeds)

-Your commitment to a regular schedule, whatever the frequency of that may be

The Meanings Of Other Taekwondo Belts

The whole journey of a student through belts is represented by a story of growth. A student begins in a state of innocence and then grows as a tree would toward excellence.

Here is what each of the main belts means in taekwondo:

White Belt

A white belt signifies innocence. There are no skills required to be awarded this belt, and it just signifies entry into the martial art.

Yellow Belt

The yellow belt is the first belt to be awarded based on a student’s proficiency. It symbolizes the earth.

This is the beginning of the growing metaphor. The student is like a seed that is planted in the earth, from which it will now grow.

Green Belt

The green symbolizes the shoots and leaves of the plant as it begins to grow.

Blue Belt

As discussed above, this is where the tree has now developed a strong trunk and roots and is now aiming towards the blue of the sky.

Red Belt

Coming away from the growth metaphor, red symbolizes danger. A student now has a range of skills and is dangerous as a warrior.

Black Belt

A student now has full proficiency (although you can still progress from here through the Dans system).

The black belt is two things:

  • First, it is the opposite of the white belt and the opposite of innocence
  • Second, it is the darkness that the student is now a force against.

How To Train For Taekwondo

Although some online resources exist, every student I have spoken to strongly recommends that you seek out a good quality local taekwondo training center.

Here are some ways to find the best one for you:

  • Read around some reviews on social media or reputable sites like Trust Pilot
  • Word of mouth is powerful. If you already know someone who trains in taekwondo, then speak to them about the best training schools in your area
  • Go and visit, and maybe observe. Often a school will have a pay-as-you-go system whereby you only need to pay for each session one at a time. Therefore, there is little risk as you are working out if a setting is right for you. Alternatively, they may be happy for you just to go and watch a session

Jacob Wilson

Jacob loves sports. He did karate for 3 years in elementary school, and played volleyball and basketball in high school. He has also been training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for a year, and is a 2 stripe white belt. You can find out more about Jacob at https://sportscentaur.com/about-jacob-wilson/

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