Colored belts signify the position/rank of each student in the dojang hierarchy. The higher the belt/rank, the higher the position, and the more respect deserved. After years of studying and training, a student may reach the top of the belt/rank hierarchy, the black belt level. Since rank is awarded based on tenure, performing certain minimum skills, and on making substantial personal improvement, it is a more a social and psychological status than it is an indicator of fighting ability. A higher rank many times indicates the person has higher tenure in the dojang/organization, not necessarily that the person has a higher skill level than persons of lower rank. Skill level does not always equate to rank. Just because a young red belt may be able to consistently beat an older 6th degree while sparring, it does not demean the 6th degree nor raise the red belt's esteem.
The practice of Taekwondo requires strict order and discipline, which comes from respect of the seniority of the belt system. The more respect a student has for the significance of the belt system, the more serious he or she may become in his or her Taekwondo training.
Purpose of Belts
In Korea, the ordinary belt is addressed as "horitti" or "yodae" (meaning waist belt). The belt used in Taekwondo is called "tti." In Taekwondo, the belt serves the utilitarian purpose of holding the uniform together, but its main purpose is to document a student’s progression through Taekwondo training. Just as the "The sapling is hidden amongst the taller oak trees and must fight its way upward," students must struggle to achieve Taekwondo proficiency. The belt system rewards them for their struggle and perseverance, and encourages them to develop their skills, discipline, and self-control so they may progress to even higher belt levels. Belt color denotes the proficiency level of the wearer and it is the outward expression of the wearer’s inner level of confidence and wisdom.