What does it take to be a Black Belt?
Well, first you have to go through all the ‘color’ belts. Different schools may have a different order to their belts. Here at CAMA, this is what we use.
CAMA’s beginner’s program consists of our white, yellow, and orange belts where we teach the basics of taekwondo. We have students from 7 years old to 107 and we design our curriculum for each belt class and age group to let each student progress at their own rate.
- White Belt: The lack of color signifies purity & innocence. The novice has no knowledge of taekwondo.
- Yellow Belt: The color of the rising sun. Seeds the ground to begin to germinate to grow.
- Orange Belt: The color of the setting sun. You will soon be leaving the beginners program & reviewing all the basics you have learned.
- Orange/Purple Belt: This is our transition belt from the beginners to the intermediate program.
Our purple, green, and blue belts rank mark our students as no longer beginners. At this stage, our students can join the black belt club, start sparring and learning to use weapons.
- Purple Belt: Royalty – you are no longer a beginner and will start your path to black belt.
- Green Belt: The color of growing things that can be seen. Power begins to develop.
- Blue Belt: The color of the sky which growing things reach for. Physical and mental power start to stabilize.
Brown, red, and Cho Dan Bo are the last belt before you begin the black belt candidacy program. At this rank, you can clearly see the maturity, respect, and honor in each student. At this rank, we ask that students assist in class and they can become part of the leadership team after the red belt.
- Brown Belt: The color of the ground where growing things become rooted firmly. Stability of physical and mental power is apparent.
- Brown 1 Belt: Brown belt with a black stripe in the middle
- Brown Black Belt: Half brown belt, half black belt. (black worn on top)
- Red Belt: Danger – The color of blood, the essential life force. Maturity, honor, and respect are exhibited.
- Red 1 Belt: Red belt with a black stripe in the middle.
- Red Black Belt: Half red belt, half black belt. (black worn on top)
- Cho Dan Bo Belt1: Restricted Black Belt – review and perfect your previous training and get ready to start your candidacy for black belt. (Half Black, half white)
- Cho Dan Bo Belt 2: Restricted Black Belt – Black belt in training. This is where you start your 16-week candidacy program to earn your black belt. (Black Belt with a white stripe in the middle)
We talk about stripes. This is a record of the required steps to the next belt ranking. It is a simple stripe of tape on the tail of the belt.
- Red Stripe – Sparring & Combos
- Black Stripe – Kicking & Breaking
- Gold Stripe – Kickboxing Combo
- White Stripe – Self-Defense
- Blue Stripe – Forms
- Green Stripe – Complete an activity
- Brown Stipe – Tournaments/Seminars
Testing for Black Belt is a comprehensive program. While the test is impressive, these candidates actually test for 16 weeks. They have experienced a rigorous program proving they have earned the rank they have achieved.
This 16-week process includes:
400 Forms (rounds of forms as taught in the do jang)
4,000 Kicks (as taught in the do jang)
2,000 Traditional Basics
120 Rounds of Sparring/Grappling
80 10 minute sessions of Flexibility Training
40 Miles of Running (Not all at once, in weekly sessions)
13 Black Belt Classes (Minimum)
1 CAMA Tournament Participation
Acts of Kindness and Compassion/Home Help – Adults, 400 – Juniors 300 + 100 Home Chores
Reading/Writing – Read 4 books, Write 1 Book Report and 10 letters
Perseverance Training – 1,000 repetitions of the technique of choice (not necessarily martial arts related)
Healthy Habits Eating clean for 5 days (no caffeine, sugar or alcohol)
Righting Wrongs – Mending 3 relationships
Leadership/Mentoring – Mentor someone for 10 sessions
Meditation/Quiet Time – Minimum of 5 minutes per day
Day of Empathy – Choice of Blind, Deaf/Mute, or Wheelchair for a 24 hour period
(This is intense and has changed many student’s lives)
Team Community Service Project – Past groups have raised over $40,000 for Down Syndrome, Red Cross Japan and Breast Cancer, just as examples.
First degree candidates do Higher Self Defense I
Higher belts do Higher Self Defense II
REQUIREMENTS TO PROGRESS to Second Degree
All CDB (First Degree Candidates) forms in addition to Black Belt forms (see forms list below) prior to the bo test. (lots of specifically named forms)
CDB Forms: Tae Guek Yuk Jang, Tae Guek Chil Jang, Tae Guek Pal Jang, Choong Moo Hyung)
Black Belt Forms: Koryo Poomse, Gae Baek Hyung, Gwan Gae Hyung, Tokyo Nomeno Nokuno Dye
Minimum 1.33 years between first degree and second-degree test
12 years old
5 Bo stripes (stripes given for specific accomplishments between tests)
BO STRIPES (equivalent to a Belt test on the way to 2nd Degree)
3 Bo Stripes are tied to testing on curriculum (Can receive 1 Bo stripe for volunteering for 18 participation events)
The Brown or Red Bo – Forms Yuk thru 1st & Physical Requirements (see below) .
Break 1 inch board with spinning Hook kick
15 push-ups, 15 chair kicks
These are very specific requirements. We left the Korean names in to show how much has been learned by this point.
The requirements for those testing for higher belts include these items plus many more stringent requirements at each level.
How Many People are Black Belts?
Just how special is it to be a Black Belt? Here are some incredible statistics about Black Belts as researched by CAMA’s own Master Chris Turnquist.
What you should know:
A Poom is awarded if the participant is under the age of 15, a Dan if they are 15 or over.
Level 10 is only granted after death to those who have achieved special status.
The population for the United States used for these calculations as of May 20, 2017, was 326,002,603
Feel free to say Wow several times! And if you are a Black Belt of any level, congratulations. Now you know just how special you are.
CAMA’s Grand Master Chris Natzke is a 7th degree Black Belt, Master Tim Luft and Master Chris Turnquist are 5th degree Black Belts. We have many 4th degree throughout the three schools.
|Poom||Dan||Total||% of US|
|Total Black Belts||350,672||0.10757%|
|7 Grand Master||450||450||0.00014%|
So that’s how you get to be a Black Belt. It’s not easy, it’s not quick, but oh my goodness, it is so worth it.