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There is no "ancient" symbol of a Black Belt in any Martial Art system. The belt ranking system is a relatively modern invention which was created in the late 1800's by the founder of Japanese Judo, Jigoro Kano. It is a method of materially rewarding a student for progress, and a visual indication of the graded levels of proficiency in the art. A "Black Belt" is usually referred to as a "Dan" (degree) as separate from the color belt grade or "geup" in Korean ("kyu" in Japanese). It represents both an honored accomplishment, and a mere beginning of a life-time of training. The Black Belt is regarded as an "expert," but the student is mainly an expert of the basics with a solid foundation of rudimentary skills and fundamental concepts.

From a philosophical point of view, many instructors have attached arbitrary meanings as analogies to what each rank might represent in comparison to common life experiences. The color black can be interpreted as a combination of all additive colors in the spectrum, thus all of the previous rank knowledge is combined, honed, and perfected to become an expert. Another interpretation is that an object which appears black absorbs all light, and reflects none. Therefore, the Black Belt student is one who is not adversely affected by his/her environment or adversaries and does not simply react to hostility, but responds with control.

Another perspective is that the color Black represents the night, darkness, or the unknown where the untrained person might be frightened or at a disadvantage. The Black Belt is said to have control over their fear of the dark or the unknown. These are all retro-fitted philosophies, and might help to inspire the student to become the best Black Belt they can be. However, all Black Belt holders are humans and are not infallible or unbeatable, yet the integrity and courage instilled in the Black Belt student, while not eliminating all mistakes and fears, is intended to teach the them to choose right over wrong and proceed with perseverance in the face of danger and adversity.

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Q: What is the ancient symbol of a black belt in taekwondo?
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