What is a black belt student called in Taekwondo?

In Taekwondo, all black belt holders can be referred to as 유단자 yoodanja.

유단자 yoodanja literally means ‘someone who has a dan rank’. 유 yoo means ‘to have’, 단 dan refers to a level of black belt, and 자 ja just means ‘person’. Anyone who holds any black belt rank – from first degree black belt to ninth degree black belt – is a yoodanja.

유단자 yoodanja can also be used as a title. You can refer directly to any black belt student with it by adding the suffix 님 nim (pronounced ‘neem’), for example: ‘Yoodanja-nim, will there be classes during the school holidays next week?’ Though this is uncommon.

What should you not say?

Do not call black belt students yoodansha. This is the Japanese pronunciation of the same word, and is used in Karate to refer to black belt students. The primary language of Taekwondo is Korean, thus the Korean pronunciation is preferred.

What does kodanja mean?

고단자 kodanja is a word used to refer to high-ranking black belts in Taekwondo. The word literally means ‘someone who has a high dan rank’. There is no standardised level at which a person can be referred to as a kodanja, but seventh, eighth, and ninth degree black belts would generally be referred to as kodanja.

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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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