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Taekwondo Belts

White Belt

"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.

Orange Belt

"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.

Yellow Belt

"The seed is beginning to see the sunlight."
The student begins to understand the basics of Taekwondo. The sun appears to be yellow.

Camo Belt

"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.

Green Belt

"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.

Purple Belt

"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) become more difficult, creating a "mountain" that must be overcome. Mountains are often depicted as being purple.

Blue Belt

"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.

Brown Belt

"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.

Red Belt

"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.

Red/Black Belt

"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.

Black Belt

"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.

Belts and Rank

The concept of belts and rank is probably one that most people associate with Taekwondo and martial arts in general, even if they have only 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, Sparring, and Forms.

Basic Moves

Each rank in Songahm Taekwondo has basic moves (also known as techniques) that the practitioner must learn and demonstrate competence in before they may move on to their next rank. These techniques have been carefully developed to help the student maximize their potential at their current level of knowledge, as well as preparing them for the techniques they must learn in their next rank. In Songahm Taekwondo, everything builds on what has come before.

Although there are many moves in Songahm Taekwondo, and martial arts in general, they can usually be categorized into these types: hand movements (strikes and blocks), kicks, and stances.

Hand Movements There are two basic types of hand motions. The first is striking, an offensive technique. The second is blocking, a defensive technique. To develop the quality of the techniques, one must focus on proper starting position, execution, rotation, direction, and ending position. To improve the power of hand movements, one can add body movements such as twisting the hips.
Kicks The term kicks is used to describe the element of foot motion. To develop the quality of technique in kicking, it's important to focus on the the stages of foot movements and body posture. The stages of kicking include the following: proper chamber, execution, rotation, direction and re-chamber. To achieve excellent kicking technique, movements of the foot must be combined with proper body posture.
Stances Seo-Gi (stances) are structured body positions. In Songahm Taekwondo, their primary purpose is as a training tool to allow students to execute techniques in conjunction with various body movements. By learning stances and executing techniques from these stances, they learn to add power to their techniques while remaining stable, and also to become more relaxed in executing their techniques over time. The secondary purpose of stances is conditioning, both in muscle development and in stretching.

It should also be noted that very few stances are actually developed for combat or sparring. Given the structured nature of stances, and the chaotic nature of combat, attempting to fight from a stance would actually put a Songahm Taekwondo practitioner at a disadvantage.


Gyeo-roo-gi (sparring) is the way that Taekwondo students prepare for self-defense.

ATA One Step Sparring In Songahm Taekwondo, a student first learns a form of preparatory moves known as 1-step sparring. This exchange of techniques is under strict control, and by memorizing these moves the student needs only practice distance and timing without the fear of responding to spontaneous techniques from an opponent. In this way, the basics of sparring can be safely developed before the student's reflexes are challenged. 1-steps also help a student acquire the confidence they need for sparring with a real opponent.

ATA Sparring Later in their training, a Songahm Taekwondo practitioner begins applying the basics they have learned from 1-steps into true sparring, which can be thought of as reflexive responses against an unplanned attack. Essentially, they learn to move beyond the predetermined series of movements they have relied upon in favor of spontaneous movements designed for true self defense.

Although we learn sparring as a form of self defense, it is also very important in Songahm Taekwondo for other reasons. It helps display proficiency in techniques, and for this reason at the Camo Belt level and beyond sparring is evaluated for purposes of advancing to the next rank. It is also an important part of tournaments, where students can display their abilities in a safe, controlled competitive environment while still showing respect to their opponent.

ATA Songahm Taekwondo Forms

In Songahm Taekwondo, each rank has its own unique poom-sae (form) designed specifically for the techniques taught at that rank level. The form is part of a complete system of teaching the Songahm Taekwondo student.

Why must students learn forms? Many martial art styles have discontinued the use of the poom-sae or use them only for the purpose of testing or tournaments. This means they have taken the "do" (as in TaekwonDO), which means "the way", out of their style. They have in essence taken the "art" out of "martial art."

POOM-SAE/FORMS. The Korean word "poom-sae" means a "form" or "pattern of movements." It is actually a planned series of movements that combines the physical skills (such as blocks, strikes, kicks, stances and more) with the mental skills (such as balance, coordination, discipline, strategy, focus and more). The target of these movements is an imaginary opponent of the practitioner's own size.

The copyrighted Songahm forms have been arranged as a system to gradually increase the student's skill, develop technical balance equally on the left and right side of the body, train muscles, and to develop students from the beginner level through the rank of Grand Master. This is why each Songahm form does not repeat most techniques more than twice and also why every technique which is done with a right arm/leg is also repeated with the left arm/leg.

These forms, designed by Eternal Grand Master H. U. Lee, were the first that truly emphasized the tradition of the art of Taekwondo, unlike older forms (hyung) which were based on Japanese and Okinawan Karate forms. Not only do the Songahm forms train the student in each rank, but they also provide excellent warm-up prior to a work out.

The "system" that encompasses the 18 Songahm forms is based on traditional philosophy, as well as being designed for for easy memorization.

Form Philosophy

All goals require a poom-sae or pattern. Even in life we have structured patterns. When you're born, you learn communication and basic skills in the home. A few years later, you are enrolled into kindergarten or elementary school. Following this comes high school. During high school, we begin to decide the direction we will take in life. We choose a college and/or a career goal. This is the pattern of the first part of our life. If you choose a good pattern, you can be a success. If your pattern is poor, you may not be as successful in your life endeavors.

Similarly, your chances of success in Songahm Taekwondo are much greater by following the solid series of patterns (forms) we have developed for our students.

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