University of Leicester Taekwon-Do Club

(Dan Gup Jedo)


The use of coloured belt to signify rank and mark progress within a martial art was introduced in Judo by Kanō Jigorō in 1883; initially only white (Kyu grades) and black (Dan grades) were used. Later, new belts were added to differentiate between lower and higher Dan grades; and in 1935 Kawaishi Mikinosuke introduced coloured belts for lower grades. Over time, the system of belts (and indeed the entire training uniform, or Gi) used in Judo was adopted by other martial arts, who expanded and changed the number of grades and colours used to suit their own styles.

Current Practice
The current ITF system, as used in ULTKD, has nineteen grades in total, starting with complete beginner and ending at Grand Master.
There are 10 kup (or student) grades, counting downwards from 10th to 1st kup, followed by nine dan (senior) grades, counting upwards from 1st to ninth dan.
Each grade is marked by a different colour of belt, and each colour has a meaning (see the Meanings page for these).

Above the kup grades are the dan grades, signified by a black belt. There are 9 dan grades in total, counting upwards from 1st to 9th. The correct term for these is in the form nth degree (also written as ) or nth dan. The holder should be addressed as e.g. Mr. Derbyshire, 3rd Degree or Mr. Derbyshire, 3rd Dan, or if using the Korean form, Mr. Derbyshire, Sam Dan.

Instructor Ranks
The dan grades are further subdivided into three groups: Junior (1st to 3rd degree); Senior (4th to 6th degree) and Master (7th to 9th degree); with additional titles attributed to each level:

1st DegreeAssistant Instructor (Boosabum)
2nd Degree
3rd Degree

4th DegreeInstructor (Sabum)
5th Degree
6th Degree

7th DegreeMaster (Sahyun)
8th DegreeSenior Master (Sonim Sahyun)
9th DegreeGrand Master (Saseong)