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Colors of Taekwondo

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Multipage spread on belt colors in taekwondo.

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Colors of Taekwondo

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  2. 2. e belts; V represent a variety of 'experieiices. They are not randomly selected and are not only the colors of the Korean martial art, but have been used through- out history in many parts of the world. .. By $taciAnne Visco Belts are more than just pieces of cloth, are more than just a color. "I am a stickler for the belt. It's more than something that keeps your pants up, it's a significant thing, it's a closure. You tie a knot in it that is symbolic of the other closures and knots you make with techniques in class. There’s a right way to make that connection. I can tell the general nature of what someone does, whether or not they use their body a lot, by the way they tie their belt, ” said Terry Dobson, an Aikido instructor. "The colors have not been arbitrarily selected. They are in fact, steeped in tradition. The colors of black, red and blue denote the various levels of hierarchy during the Koguryo and Silla Dynasties, " writes General Choi in the Encyclopedia of T aekwon-D0. They tell a symbolic story. According to Choi, white is the innocence, as that of a beginning student of Tae Kwon Do; "Yellow is the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Tae Kwon Do foundation is laid; green is the plant’s growth as skills in Tae Kwon Do develop; blue is the Heaven, towards which the plant grows into a towering tree as training progresses; red signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning opponents away; and finally black is the opposite of white, signifying maturity and proficiency in Tae Kwon Do and imperviousness to night. " This order of colors far predates the founding of Tae Kwon Do, or even Taekyon. There are many references to the order as it stands in the writ- ings of Leonardo daVinci on color theory, in Druid lore and the ancient Chinese art called Feng Shui. daVinci, while writing on the theory of color said, "The first of all simple colors is white, although some would not admit that black or white are colors, the first being a receiver of colors and the later being the sum of all colors (in pigment). Painting is but an effect of light and shade, that is, chiaroscuro; white is first, then yellow, green, blue and red and finally black. White may be said to represent light, with- out which no color can be seen. ” TAE KWON DO TIMES 96 JANUARY 1996
  3. 3. ”The first of all simple colors is white, although some would not admit that black or white are colors, the first being a receiver of colors and the later being the sum of all colors (in pigment). Painting is but an effect of light and shade, that is, chiaroscuro; white is first, then yellow, green, blue and red and finally black. White may be said to repre- sent light, without which no color can be seen. ” The Druids, whose colored robes were in the same order as Tae Kwon Do belts with one exception, felt the same way. The final robe was the sum of all the prior colors. In their world, however, the black robes were first, representing the absence of knowledge, and the white robes were the sum of all knowledge acquired in the course of study. The wearers of the white robes were to retain all the knowledge repre- sented in the previous colors. Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of geomancy or placement and color. It is interior design for the whole house——right down to cardinal orientation. According to Master Lin Yun, a scholar of Feng Shui, there are six true (natural) colors. White, yellow, green, blue, red, and black are also the six holy colors 0! Tae Kwon Do that align with the six Buddhist "true syllables, Om mani padme hum. ” According to Yun, “In sequence, these six colors represent a holy figure——a god or the Buddha, and are conceived of as conjuring great increased spiritual power. Each color is linked to a sound from the six Buddhist true syllables. The philosophical roots of the Six True Colors return to the duality of emptiness and substance being opposite ends of the same thing. The sequences initial color, white, represents a beginning (yang). Black symbolizes the end (Yin). When you add all of the sequences intervening colors symbolizing all things in the universe, the sum is black, which stands for everything in the universe. " ”Yellow is the earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Tae Kwon Do foundation is laid; green is the plant's growth as skills in Tae Kwon Do develop; blue is the Heaven, towards which the plant grows into a towering tree as training progresses; red signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning opponents away; and finally black is the opposite of white, signifying maturity and profi- ciency in Tae Kwon Do and imperviousness to night. " TAE KWON DO TIMES JANUARY 1998
  4. 4. White. .. signifies innocence as that of a beginning stu- dent who has no previous knowledge of Tae Kwon Do. ..Choi White is the traditional color of the Korean dobok or the Japanese gi. New students wear this as their first belt. In pigments, it is the absence of color; in light, the sum of all colors. White is a color of deep symbolism. It represents honor, purity, virtue, and innocence. This is why brides wear white, as do doctors, nurses and chefs. Snow White exemplified the essence of white. Her simple, honest, friendly demeanor wins out over the evil stepmother. Diamonds epitomize the “white" or colorless stone. They are the promise of love, fidelity and honor between husband and wife. White is both the beginning and the end of the belt colors. Look at the well—worn "black" belt of one whom had worked long and hard with that belt--it starts to turn white again where the black threads are worn away. White is the color that all knowledge is built upon, until, as when pigments are mixed, black is created, In true yin and yang fashion, for black to exist, there must be white. on O! Tae Kwon Do Yellow. .. signifies the Earth from which a plant sprouts and takes root as the Tae Kwon Do foundation is being laid. ..Choi Yellow is the warmth of a summer day or the sun beaming from a bright blue sky. It is the golden hue of sunflowers and the sniffles created by goldenrod. It is the bright yellow of a “Have-a nice-day” sticker, the rich saffron of the Buddhist monks robes. It is also the second belt color of Tae Kwon Do. In the East, yellow is a color of great honor. It is the color of honor, wealth, royalty, and well—being. In China, yellow was the imperial color. In fact, "Yellow has been so closely associated with the imperial household that the entrance to the palace is known as the ‘yellow door. '” (LC, p. 15) To many Americans, yellow is a color that has dual associations: that of great joy and that of cau- tion. Yellow is spring, daffodils and Easter eggs. But, yellow is also the color of cowardice. It is yel- low journalism or having a yellow streak. To wave a yellow flag at a race or see a yellow stoplight sug- gests caution and care. Yellow lines divide the two directions of traffic on a road. Green. .. signifies the plant’s growth as Tae Kwon Do skill begins to develop. ..Choi “It's not that easy being green, " sung Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street. Green belt, the third color in the belt system, is the level many students drop out of the martial arts. Psychologically it's a heavier color, denoting the start of true study in Tae Kwon Do. The first of the intermediate colors, it is here that many realize how much there is to learn and how far there is to go, and they quit. But green is the color of spring, of growth and of life itself. Green and blue are the most prevalent colors in nature. Green is the color of shade in a forest, of cool soft grass coated with morning dew, or of spongy moss. It is the green light saying, "Go. " Green Tara is a goddess in Tibetan Buddhism. Best known for helping Sakyamuni reach Buddhahood, Green Tara helped him to avoid the temptations, evils and obstacles that might have diverted him from his path. Green Tara is also Master Stephen Barrett promotes a young student to yellow belt. known for curing sickness. The Chinese call her Lu Du Fwo Mu, or the “Green—Colored Mother of the Buddha. " Blue. .. signifies the Heaven, towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Tae Kwon Do progresses. ..Choi In the Western world, blue is the color most peo- ple claim as their favorite. It is the bright blue of a summer sky and the mysterious deep hue of night. TAE KWON DO TIMES JANUARY 1993 98
  5. 5. It is the fourth belt color as well. Blue denotes authority, truth, loyalty, and mystery. It also symbolizes quality. Police officers have blue uniforms. The Marines, the Navy, Air Force officers, and the Army all wear dress blues. The ubiquitous blue suit dominates the business world. A blue rib- bon means first place. Blue chip stocks are the most consistent and high in value, as is a blue chip in poker. Brides traditionally wear something blue at the wedding. It is the color used for the Virgin Mary's Robes in Christianity; of Merlin’s robes in Druid lore. It is also the color of academic robes worn by philosophers at American universities. Blue is the calm, peaceful night falling or the true blue of friendship. Blue evokes the mystery of the Hope Diamond; the turquoise of ancient Egyptian and Zuni cultures. It is the secrecy of the Blue Lodge of Masonry. To wear a blue belt is to start to learn the vast history, philosophy and mysteries of Tae Kwon Do. Red. . . signifies danger cautioning the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away. ..Choi Red is the first color an infant sees after black and white. It is the color used most frequently in flags. Red evokes excitement, anger and intensity. It is the last color belt before black belt. Red increases appetite, adrenaline production, strength, and blood pressure. It’s the color of true love: a Valentine, red lips and nails, and a long- stemmed rose. In China and Bolivia, it is the color the bride wears, representing sensuality, joy and love. A common understanding of the red belt is "dan- ger” to both self and others. Here the thrust for black belt comes into full force. Red is danger and authori- ty. In China, all royal decrees were issued in red. Mars, the Red Planet is named after the Roman god of war. It’s the red of a stop sign or of a fire truck. Red commands attention which is the reason why most flashing lights for emergency vehicles use it. In Brazil, red cars were outlawed due to the number of accidents involving them--the same reason that in the United States, some insurance rates are higher if you drive a red car. There is great joy and passion in red: painting the town red, getting the red carpet treatment, red—letter days. It's the color of Captain Kangaroos coat and Santa’s suit. It’s the color of the devil and of Rudolph's brilliant nose leading the way home. Black. . . is the opposite of white, therefore, signifying the maturity and proficiency in Tae Kwon Do. It also indicates the wearer's imperviousness to darkness and fear. ..Choi Black belt fever--it’s the belt most recognized and most desired belt. For some, it’s a rush to get one. For others, it's a long, winding road. Black is the color most people associate with the martial arts. To TAE KWON DO TIMES Monique ”Nil(l(i" Torro receives her yellow stripe from instructor Stephen Barrett. The color yellow in many Asian cultures is symbolic of royalty. a non-martial artist, to have a black belt is to have mastered the art. To a student, it symbolizes just beginning true learning of the art. As my instructor puts it, "A black belt is just another piece of cloth. You can buy one at any supply store; but to earn it, to earn the right to wear it, that's another issue. " In the West, black is the color of death or nothing- ness. It is not so in the East. In Asia, black is the color of wisdom, silence and eternity. Black is the mystery of the Ninjas, the inky color of a moonless night. The color of most graduation gowns, it is also wisdom and depth of knowledge. Black leather cov- ers are the most common for the Bible. A man's black book is a treasured item, not to be shared. It is also the color of a priest's shirt. Black is the final belt color. To have a black belt is to have the sum of all knowledge from prior belt lev- els, and to move on to new levels. According to Lin Yun, “White represents a blank sheet, and black stands for everything in the universe. White is like an empty piece of paper. When it is inscribed with a black character, the white becomes more apparent in contrast to the black. Without black, the white is nothing. On About the Author: $taciAnne Visco, a blue stripe, trains at the deepest level of , he Kala Academy meaning. there is a i in Williston, VT, Wtlh continuous cycle: Mailer slephen Barrett and Ms. white helps create black, from which white is born. " Denise Perron. She is an avid writer and photographer. JANUARV1998 99—

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