What does ‘gup’ mean in Taekwondo?

‘gup’ is a Korean word meaning level or grade. A ‘gup’ is a rank of colour belt.

gup or kup literally means ‘class’, ‘grade’, or ‘rank’. You may also see it written geup or kup.

The ‘u’ in gup is pronounced like the ‘oo’ in ‘book’ and not like the ‘u’ in ‘up’. The ‘g’ is pronounced like the ‘g’ in ‘good’ and not like the ‘g’ in ‘generous’.

Each level of colour belt is called a gup. A higher gup number indicates a lower rank. Gup numbers typically range from tenth gup (or tenth grade in English), which is white belt, to first gup (or first grade), which is the belt immediately below black belt – normally red belt.

  • tenth gup / grade – white belt
  • ninth gup / grade
  • eighth gup / grade
  • seventh gup / grade
  • sixth gup / grade
  • fifth gup / grade
  • fourth gup / grade
  • third gup / grade
  • second gup / grade
  • first gup / grade – red belt with a black tag or stripe
  • first dan / degree – black belt

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Want to learn more?

If you'd like to learn more about the Korean terminology used in Taekwondo, consider buying this book: Taekwondo Terminology. It contains an extensive dictionary of terms used in Taekwondo, as well as explanations on how to pronounce Korean words, and aspects of Korean grammar.

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