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The Enigma Behind Taekwondo Uniforms

Not many people know that the principle behind taekwondo is even followed in the construction of the training uniform or tobok.

It can be noted that many Eastern philosophic doctrines are the basis behind the principles of Taekwondo. In their concepts the harmony in human life is very important. They input the same ideas in the creation of their taekwondo uniform.

The Tobok is said to be taken from the national Korean costume. The three geometrical shapes are combined in it:

1. Square in the sleeves and trousers,

2. Circle in the belt around the waist.

3. Triangle in the V-neck and tights.

According to the Yin and Yang theory, the three main components of the universe and the geometrical shapes of tobok have their significance - the trousers symbolize the Earth, the belt stands for man and the upper garment represents heaven.

The endless form of the belt, a circle, symbolizes the course of human life among heaven and earth. The white color is the purity of consciousness and peace.

The belt is a non-separable part of the Taekwondo uniform. It stands for the rank of degree of the practitioner.

There are five colors of belts - white, yellow, blue, red and black one.

There are 9 ranks of degree for students (gup) from white belt to the red one, and 9 masters (dan) - all of them black belts. The ultimate number in the decimal system is 9. So the initial degree is the 9th gup and the highest one is the 9th dan.

Takewondo uniforms are distinguished according to grades.

For colored grades:

A white traditional uniform is the only accepted uniform for all colored belt grades. The belts are plain colored belts as designated by each dojo. Exceptions are allowed if the style does not use traditional attire.

For black belt levels:

No red shall is worn by anyone below the fourth degree black belt level. Since various martial art styles vary in uniform color configuration, patches worn, etc., it is suggested that there be some simple organized standard.

Other suggested taekwondo uniform recommendations are:

1. Provisional First Degree Black or Regular First Degree Black

This is the separation between the second, third and fourth degree. Black belts are used here. A traditional white top with black bottom should go with the belt, with no trim or other identifying decoration.

The belt is plain, with no bars or other marks, and the belt for the Provisional First Degree should have 1/4 inch white stripe sewed in the center around the entire belt or as a large tip.

2. Second Degree Black or Third Degree Black

These degree levels are of greatly matured levels compared to the First Degree and could be distinguished with a trim uniform, of different color, or different colored bottoms, bars on the belts, etc.

3. Fourth Degree Black, Fifth Degree Black, Sixth Degree Black, Seventh Degree Black. Eighth Degree Black, Positional Ranks

These are considered Master's Ranks. The practitioners in this degree have the liberty to wear any respectable uniform design, color configuration, or trim.

Master's belts are traditionally either extra wide black belts with a 1/2 inch red stripe around the center, or either red and black checkered or red and white checkered, and in some cases one will see a wide solid red belt with a 1/2 inch black stripe around the center.

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