The Soo Bahk Do belt system explained

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Soo Bahk Do belt system
Students of different belt ranks in Soo Bahk Do making a fun group photo after class!

A great benefit of a martial art style such as Soo Bahk Do is its belt system.

With a belt system, we can track and celebrate our progress.  

At every stage our aim is to demonstrate more advanced skills and techniques.  To achieve this, we need to be consistent in our training in order to enable physical adaptations that support our goals.

Along with the physical, we undergo a mental transformation through the process.  Our confidence, focus and perseverance skills are developed along the way.  

No two journeys are the same.  

Each belt that is awarded marks both a personal and collective journey.  The fact that our belts are earned after hard work makes achieving each milestone that much more rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been training for a while, in this article we explain the significance of each belt in the Soo Bahk Do martial art.

Soo Bahk Do belt system overview

At a glance, this is the Soo Bahk Do belt system:

Soo Bahk Do belt system
Soo Bahk Do belt system

All the colours before midnight blue signify ‘geup’ levels.  We progress through on our journey to achieving the black belt (Dan) rank.

Once we’ve achieved the Dan rank, we become a 1st Dan.

But the journey doesn’t stop there for the dedicated!

There are many more levels ahead that challenge us to continue personal development and growth in mind and body.  This makes Soo Bahk Do a great activity for lifelong training!

Oh, and before we move on, you might be wondering:

What do the belt stripes mean?

Well, these mark our training progression as a martial artist. When we advance in a rank, this doesn’t always mean that a belt is changed.  Sometimes, we advance in the category that we are in.

Speaking of the Soo Bahk Do belt categories, the Soo Bahk Do is designed with the four seasons in mind. 

Let’s explain this in more detail.

The Soo Bahk Do belt system: White belt – Beginner

This belt represents the season: Winter.

Everyone’s martial arts journey starts here.

Your potential is like a seed hidden under a thick layer of snow, ready to reveal itself in time.

Yellow to Orange with 1 tag – Beginner advancing

These belts represent the season: Winter progressing into Spring

You’ve committed to your martial arts training now for a while – congratulations on your perseverance!

As winter transitions into spring, the snow starts to melt. You’ll find that your moves and techniques become easier to do than before.  In fact, many at this stage often mention that they don’t understand why they found the white belt content challenging to do in the first place!  As skills become sharper, self-confidence boosts.

The Soo Bahk Do belt system: Green belt – Intermediate

The ranks within green belt represent the season: Spring

In spring, we start to awaken our energy and activity levels begin to rise.

At this level, you’ve now officially made it into the intermediate geup level stages of the Soo Bahk Do martial art belt system.

Here, you’ll find yourself wanting to push your fitness further as you’re met with more advanced techniques to master.  More dynamic moves, such as jump kicks, become easier. 

You may also find yourself in a position to help beginner members overcome challenges that you once faced through short teaching experiences at class.  It’s a great feeling to reach a stage where your understanding and skills can be used to support others.

In Soo Bahk Do, your jacket changes to have a green trim on the lapel to mark your progression along with your vibrant green belt.

The Soo Bahk Do belt system: Red belt – Advanced

The ranks within red belt represent the season: Summer

The summer season is when our energy and activity are at its highest.  This runs parallel to our geup level martial arts journey.

Confidence and energy is very high at this level. After all, you’re nearing the black belt (Dan) rank!

In Soo Bahk Do, your jacket changes to have a red trim on the lapel to mark your progression along with your red belt.

Within the red belt ranks, you’ll acquire a deeper understanding and connection between knowing detail and being able to demonstrate techniques very well.  

There comes a point where it ‘clicks’ – that the body can now do what the mind knows how to do.

Your teaching experience continues to develop in class, which greatly improves your public speaking and communication skills.

The Soo Bahk Do belt system: Midnight Blue (black) belt – Dan member

The ranks within the Dan belts represent the season: Autumn

The autumn season is symbolised by the harvest.  This is where our hard work over the past seasons have grown fruit that we now collect as the reward.

In Soo Bahk Do, that means achieving the respected black belt!

It’s a significant accomplishment that takes perseverance and commitment to the martial arts journey despite the challenges and obstacles.  

This is something that’s not widely achieved because many give up in the process.  

But not you.

In the Soo Bahk Do martial art, you’ll be issued a Dan Bon, which is a black belt number from the World Moo Duk Kwan.  This places you on the global record book of the martial art.

You’ll have the opportunity to have your belt embroidered and you’ll now wear a Dan jacket that has a midnight blue trim on the label, sleeves and jacket rim.

We consider everything you’ve learnt up to this point as putting tools into your toolbox.

Now as a Dan member, if you continue to train and keep going, you’ll learn how to use and combine different variations of these tools in many ways that you never thought about.

Midnight blue (black) belt with red – Master level member

The Korean philosophy of um (passive – blue) and yang (active – red) combine at the level of 4th Dan and beyond.

This is the final belt change in the Soo Bahk Do martial art belt system, but in no way signifies the end of learning!

At this point, your training practice becomes a way of life physically, mentally, and spiritually throughout the seasons that follow and over the years to come.

You train to promote the longevity and happiness of the mind and body.

Wrap up

The Soo Bahk Do belt system has a much deeper meaning than from first glance when one just sees the colours and ranks.  In line with the philosophy of nature itself, you’ll find yourself experiencing a mental and physical transformation at every stage.

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