The Legend of Rank Belts
Ever wondered why there are so many black belts and color belts in Songahm Taekwondo? Here is the legend shared by Grand Master Soon Ho Lee. Once upon a time, students of the ancient martial arts were given a new white belt when they began their training with the master. That was the only belt they would get....ever. During the many months of training, the belt would get darker and darker, as dirt, sweat, and grime built up on it. Eventually a student's white belt got so dirty it was practically black. So when someone saw a person training with a dirty, grimy, old "black" belt, they knew, that person had put a lot of time into training at the do-jahng! Eventually the modern system of belts evolved and today's belts probably smell a lot better than those belts of the ancient times.
Songahm Poome-Sae #1: 9th Grade White Belt
"Pure and without the knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo. As with the Pine Tree, the seed must now be planted and nourished to develop strong roots."
The student has no knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo and begins with a clean (pure) slate.
Purity is often signified by the color white.
Songahm Poome-Sae #2: 8th Grade Orange Belt
"The sun is beginning to rise. As with the morning's dawn, only the beauty of the sunrise is seen rather than the immense power."
The beginner student sees the beauty of the art of Taekwondo but has not yet experienced the power of the technique.
Orange is found among the many colors of the sunrise.
Songahm Poome-Sae #3: 7th Grade Yellow Belt
"The seed is beginning to see the sunlight."
The student begins to understand the basics of Taekwondo.
The sun appears to be yellow.
Songahm Poome-Sae #4: 6th Grade Camo Belt
Camouflage (Camo) Belt
"The sapling is hidden amongst the taller pines and must now fight its way upward."
The student begins to realize his/her place in the world's largest martial art. The student must now begin to spar in order to promote in rank.
Camouflage (greens) is used to hide among the trees in the forest.
Songahm Poome-Sae #5: 5th Grade Green Belt
"The pine tree is beginning to develop and grow in strength."
The student's technique is developing power. The components of the basic techniques are beginning to work in unison.
As the pine tree develops, it sprouts green pine needles.
Inwha Poome-Sae #1: 4th Grade Purple Belt
"Coming to the mountain. The tree is in the mid-growth and now the path becomes steep."
The student has crossed over over into a higher level of SOngahm Taekwondo. The techniques, poom-sae (forms), and level of gyeo-roo-gi (sparring) becomes more difficult, creating a "mountain" that must be overcome.
Mountains are often depicted as being purple.
Inwha Poome-Sae #2: 3rd Grade Blue Belt
"The tree reaches for the sky toward new heights."
Having passed the mid-way point, the student focuses his/her energy upward toward black belt.
The sky appears as blue.
Choongjung Poome-Sae #1: 2nd Grade Brown Belt
"The tree is firmly rooted in the earth."
At this point the student has mastered the basics and developed deep roots in Taekwondo.
Brown is known as an earthy color, such as dirt.
Choongjung Poome-Sae #2: 1st Grade Red Belt
"The sun is setting. The first phase of growth has been accomplished."
The first day (the period of time from white belt to red belt) of growth is coming to an end. The physical skill has been developed but lacks control; therefore, physical and mental discipline must now be achieved.Variations of red are found among the many colors of the sunset.
First Degree Black Belt Recommended: Red/Black Belt
"The dawn of a new day. The sun breaks through the darkness."
The previous day has ended, giving way to a new dawn. The student must begin a new phase of training; that of being a black belt.
The red is the sun (in a sunrise) as it breaks through the black of night.
Shimjun Poome-Sae: First Degree Black Belt - Decided
1st Degree Black Belt
"The tree has reached maturity and has overcome the darkness... it must now 'plant seeds for the future.'"
The color black is created when all the colors of the light spectrum have been absorbed into an object. That object has "taken control" of the colors and retained them. If one color was to "escape", the object would no longer be black but would appear as that color. The student has mastered the nine geup (grades) of Taekwondo. He/she has "absorbed" all the knowledge of the color ranks and overcome or "mastered" that level or training.
The colors of the spectrum are bound together and are not reflected off an object, resulting in the absence of color which we call black .
Jung-Yul Poome-Sae: Second Degree Black Belt - Decided
2nd Degree Black Belt
"With your noble character, you will develop a new permanence in your life."
Chung San Poome-Sae: 3rd Degree Black Belt - Decided
3rd Degree Black Belt
"Peace of mind and traquility."