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Philosophies and Belts of the WTTU / ATA / STF

The concept of belts and rank is probably one that most people associate with Taekwondo and martial arts in general, even if they only have a passing interest in the subject.

In Songahm Taekwondo, our belts reflect a member's proven level of competence and (just as importantly) the progression of colors reflects an inner journey that never truly ends. Each belt achieved is truly an accomplishment worthy of respect.

It is also worth noting that achieving a belt isn't just a matter of "spending enough time" in a previous belt. In order to achieve their next rank, a student must demonstrate their proficiency in their current belt's techniques, to include Basic Moves, Forms, Sparring and Board Breaks.

Below is some information on the Philosophies and Belt ranks in the WTTU Songahm Taekwondo system. The Korean word Songahm means "pine tree temple" or "pine tree and rock". The pine tree is the symbol for everlasting and the rock is symbolic for a sure foundation. Each rank has a philosophy tied into the belt color that symbolizes a pine trees growth.

18 moves in Poome-Sae
"Pure and without the knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo. As with the Pine Tree, the seed must now be planted and nourished to develop strong roots."
The student has no knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo and begins with a clean (pure) slate.
Purity is often signified by the color white .

23 moves in Poome-Sae
"The sun is beginning to rise. As with the morning's dawn, only the beauty of the sunrise is seen rather than the immense power."
The beginner student sees the beauty of the art of Taekwondo but has not yet experienced the power of the technique.
Orange is found among the many colors of the sunrise.

28 moves in Poome-Sae
"The seed is beginning to see the sunlight."
The student begins to understand the basics of Songahm Taekwondo.
The sun appears to be yellow .

31 moves in Poome-Sae
"The sapling is hidden amongst the taller pines and must now fight its way upward."
The student begins to realize his/her place in the world's largest martial art. The student must now begin to spar in order to promote in rank.
Camouflage (greens) is used to hide among the trees in the forest.

34 moves in Poome-Sae
"The pine tree is beginning to develop and grow in strength."
The student's technique is developing power. The components of the basic techniques are beginning to work in unison.
As the pine tree develops, it sprouts green pine needles.

44 moves in Poome-Sae
"Coming to the mountain. The tree is in the mid-growth and now the path becomes steep."
The student has crossed over over into a higher level of Songahm Taekwondo. The techniques, poom-sae (forms), and level of gyeo-roo-gi (sparring) becomes more difficult, creating a "mountain" that must be overcome.
Mountains are often depicted as being purple .

42 moves in Poome-Sae
"The tree reaches for the sky toward new heights."
Having passed the mid-way point, the student focuses his/her energy upward toward black belt.
The sky appears as blue .

44 moves in Poome-Sae
"The tree is firmly rooted in the earth."
At this point the student has mastered the basics and developed deep roots in Taekwondo.
Brown is known as an earthy color, such as dirt.

46 moves in Poome-Sae
"The sun is setting. The first phase of growth has been accomplished."
The first day (the period of time from white belt to red belt) of growth is coming to an end. The physical skill has been developed but lacks control; therefore, physical and mental discipline must now be achieved.
Variations of red are found among the many colors of the sunset.

46 moves in Poome-sae
"The dawn of a new day. The sun breaks through the darkness."
The previous day has ended, giving way to a new dawn. The student must begin a new phase of training; that of being a black belt.
The red is the sun (in a sunrise) as it breaks through the black of night.

1st Degree Black Belt - Shim Jun
81 moves in Poome-Sae
"The tree has reached maturity and has overcome the darkness... it must now 'plant seeds for the future.'"
The color black is created when all the colors of the light spectrum have been absorbed into an object. That object has "taken control" of the colors and retained them. If one color was to "escape", the object would no longer be black but would appear as that color. The student has mastered the nine geup (grades) of Taekwondo. He/she has "absorbed" all the knowledge of the color ranks and overcome or "mastered" that level or training.
The colors of the spectrum are bound together and are not reflected off an object, resulting in the absence of color which we call black .

2nd Degree Black Belt - Jung Yul
82 moves in Poome-Sae
"With your noble character, you will develop a new permanence in your life."

3rd Degree Black Belt - Chung San
83 moves in Poome-Sae
"Peace of Mind and Tranquility"

4th Degree Black Belt - Sok Bong
84 moves in Poome-Sae
"Crest of Granite Mountain" which interprets to "You will live comfortably and in peace."

5th Degree Black Belt - ChungHae
95 moves in Poome-Sae
"Mastered all kinds of things and utilizes this to do many things."

6th Degree Black Belt
More info to come!

6th Degree Black Belt, Master Instructor
During the first year as a 6th Degree Black Belt, the student begins a new journey, that of becoming a Master Instructor. There is a 9 step process to the Masters Ceremony which is performed during that year. The climax of the process is performed at World Championships Opening Ceremonies every year in Little Rock, Arkansas.

7th Degree Black Belt
More info to come!

7th Degree Black Belt, Senior Master Instructor
More info to come!

8th Degree Black Belt
More info to come!

8th Degree Black Belt, Chief Master Instructor
More info to come!

9th Degree Black Belt, Grand Master Instructor
More info to come!


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This site is part of Rahn's Black Belt Academy - Creating Confidence © 2009 All Rights Reserved. | All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners. Rahn's BBA, Rahn's Leadership BBA, Rahn's Black Belt Academy, Karate for Kids, WTTU Martial Arts, SongahmTaekwondo, ATA, American Taekwondo Association Yes I can! and STF are all registered trademarks.


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