Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, is known for its high-flying kicks and rapid spin kicks. But have you ever wondered about the uniform that Taekwondo practitioners wear during their training and competitions? This article will delve into the details of the Taekwondo uniform, known as the “Dobok,” and provide a comprehensive understanding of its history, significance, and variations.

Understanding the Dobok

The Taekwondo uniform, or Dobok, is more than just a piece of clothing. It is a symbol of the practitioner’s dedication to the art, their rank, and their school. The term “Dobok” is derived from two Korean words: “Do,” which means “way,” and “bok,” which means “clothing.” Therefore, Dobok can be translated as “clothing of the way,” signifying the wearer’s journey in the martial art of Taekwondo.

Origins of the Dobok

The Dobok has its roots in the Japanese “keikogi/dōgi,” used in various Japanese martial arts, including judo. However, the Dobok has evolved over time to incorporate elements of traditional Korean clothing, making it distinct and representative of the Korean martial art of Taekwondo.

Taekwondo Uniforms Called
Taekwondo Uniforms Called

Design and Variations of the Dobok

The Dobok comes in many colors, with white and black being the most common. The reverse of the Dobok may be a different color than the rest of the uniform. They are made from a variety of materials, ranging from traditional cotton to cotton-polyester blends, providing comfort and flexibility to the wearer.

The design of the Dobok can vary depending on the style of Taekwondo practiced. World Taekwondo Federation-style practitioners usually wear Doboks with v-neck jackets, modeled after the Korean “hanbok.” On the other hand, International Taekwon-Do Federation-style practitioners typically wear a newer design with a vertically closing jacket front.

The pants and sleeves of the Dobok are wider and longer than the traditional Japanese keikogi. This design allows for greater freedom of movement, particularly important given the dynamic and high-flying kicks characteristic of Taekwondo.

The Belt System in Taekwondo: A Symbol of Progress

In Taekwondo, the belt, or “tti,” is not just a functional part of the uniform; it’s a symbol of the practitioner’s progress and achievement. Worn around the Dobok, the belt’s color denotes the rank or grade of the wearer, reflecting their skill level, knowledge, and experience in Taekwondo.

Colored belts are typically worn by “geup” holders, who are students progressing through the ranks. The journey begins with a white belt, symbolizing a blank slate or a seed ready to sprout. As the student advances, they earn new belt colors, each representing a new stage of growth and understanding. The order and colors of belts can vary, but most commonly, they progress from white to yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, and brown.

Upon reaching the black belt, the practitioner transitions from being a “geup” holder to a “dahn” holder, signifying their mastery of Taekwondo basics and readiness to delve deeper into the art. The black belt is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning of a new one, as even within black belts, there are multiple degrees to achieve.

Some schools introduce stripes on the belts, running down the length of the center of the tti. These stripes indicate progress within a particular belt level, marking milestones as the student works towards the next rank.

Special Doboks for Korean Sword Arts: Embracing Tradition and Functionality

While the standard Dobok is designed for the dynamic movements of Taekwondo, practitioners of Korean sword arts like “kumdo” have a slightly different uniform requirement. They typically wear wider pants, known as “chima baji” (literally, “skirt-pants”). These pants resemble the Japanese “hakama” used in Kendo and Iaijutsu.

The chima baji’s design allows for a greater range of motion, accommodating the sweeping movements characteristic of sword arts. The wide legs and flowing fabric also add a visual element to the practitioner’s movements, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the art.

Choosing the Right Dobok: A Blend of Comfort, Durability, and Tradition

Choosing the right Dobok is a crucial decision for any Taekwondo practitioner. The uniform should not only be comfortable and durable but also adhere to the standards set by the practitioner’s school or Taekwondo federation.

Comfort is key as the Dobok should allow for a full range of motion, accommodating the high kicks and fast movements of Taekwondo. It should fit well, not too loose to interfere with movements or too tight to restrict them.

Durability is another important factor. Taekwondo training can be rigorous, and the Dobok should be able to withstand regular wear and tear. It should retain its shape and color even after repeated washing and should not tear easily during training.

When purchasing a Dobok, the material is a significant consideration. Traditional cotton Doboks are known for their durability and comfort. However, they may shrink after washing, so sizing needs to be chosen carefully. Cotton-polyester blends, on the other hand, are less likely to shrink and may provide additional comfort in hot climates or during intense training sessions.

In terms of design, the Dobok should reflect the traditions of Taekwondo. The color is typically white, symbolizing purity and the aspirational nature of the martial art. The design can vary, with some schools preferring the v-neck jackets modeled after the Korean “hanbok,” while others opt for a vertically closing jacket front.


The Dobok is more than just a uniform. It is a symbol of the practitioner’s journey in Taekwondo, their commitment to the art, and their respect for its traditions. Choosing the right Dobok, understanding the significance of the belt system, and appreciating the variations for different Korean martial arts can enhance the Taekwondo experience, making each kick, punch, and stance more meaningful.

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