Occasionally you may notice a student wearing a purple belt in Jinhwa Taekwondo. Maybe you’re wondering where did they get it or why and does everyone get one? In this post we will explain the purple belt, who it is awarded too and why.
To start simply, a purple belt is a lighter representation of a black belt. This demonstrates that the holder possesses the required knowledge however, is not yet as physically capable of possessing a black belt. The purple belt was introduced to be awarded to younger members who meet all the requirements of black belt but still require some physical and mental development to be capable of undertaking a full black belt grade. As a general rule of thumb, purple belt is reserved for members aged 12 and under.
The key driver behind introducing a purple belt really comes down to the requirements to hold a black belt and what it means to the art. We’ve talked before about a black belt being awarded to a member based on training effort, technical ability, mental preparedness, stamina, role modelling and ability to defend yourself. While many of our junior members do display a lot of these traits, there is also an expected level of maturity that is required to wear a black belt which for the most part, is not possessed by people under a certain age. In time gone by, a junior member would hit a certain level and that would be the highest they could go till they reached a certain age. Other arts have used methods such as dropping back to a lower belt when reaching a certain age. The purple belt allows a student to train right through, then continue to develop as a senior member of the class.
Once awarded a purple belt, it is expected that the member will continue their training and working towards earning a black belt. The member will still train at the front of the class however will line up with black belts during our bowing out. At this time the member will learn the Kwang Gae Pattern which is the first of the black belt patterns as well as training in all colour belt patterns. Purple belt members are also invited to join in black belt training to help develop their ability and prepare for the transition to a black belt. There is no minimum or maximum time spent on the purple belt, a junior member will be invited to apply for a black belt when their instructor determines they are ready i.e. capable of performing several patterns including the Kwang Gae pattern effectively, breaking boards, sparing demonstrations and displaying the attitude expected of a black belt.
Hopefully, this has shed some light on the importance of a purple belt for junior members in training. It really comes down to the fact that we can’t expect the same of children and adults alike and by giving the option of a purple belt, we are able to reward the efforts of our junior members and continue their development without holding them back.