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In Korean Taekwondo, the term "geup" (sometimes translated as gup or kup) is written in Hangul (Korean script) as 급, and means "grade." It is typically used to refer to the temporary levels of a student working toward a Black Belt Degree which is called a Dan ( 단 ; pronounced with the "ah" sound as in the name "Don") for adults 15 and older, and a poom ( 품 ) for junior Black Belt under age 15. (note: In Japanese Martial Art systems such as Karate-Do, the term for grade is "kyu," but Dan is the same) In most Taekwondo schools the students wear different colored belts to represent a new grade level. Some schools use fewer colors, and add taped stripes for certain grades, while other schools use a different color belt for each grade, but it is not the color that is of great importance as the grade and skill required to attain that grade which the belt represents. Belt colors are an easy visual cue for students and instructors to quickly identify the expected progress of a particular student. The grades progress from the beginner at what is often referred to as "mu geup" (no grade) to a student who has been tested once to the "gu geup" (9th grade). Some Taekwondo schools use the number 10, or sip geup for the initial grade (pronounced "sheep" with a very soft "h" sound). The grading system starts at the higher number for beginner students, and decreases to the lower number as the student goes up in grade (9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1). As a student learns the basics of Taekwondo training (class procedures, customs, beginner terminology, stances and techniques) they are given the opportunity about every one to three months (depending on the organization or instructor's requirements) to test for promotion. A geup test (grade promotion) typically entails a group setting (sometimes 10 to as many as 100 or more students) of various rank level applicants demonstrating skills before a panel of Black Belt judges. The material for a geup promotion includes a demonstration of current rank techniques, forms exhibition (pre-arranged patterns called Poomsae, Hyung, or Tul - similar to Japanese Karate Kata), one-step controlled sparring with a partner (Hanbo Gyorugi), self defense tactics (Hoshinsul), Board Breaking (Kyukpa), and Free Sparring (Jayu Gyorugi). The students are also graded on other areas such as knowledge, attitude, appearance, courtesy and manners as well as a report of behavior outside of the Taekwondo Dojang (school) to include respect of parents and teachers, and good grades in school. The adult Black Belt Dan is a permanent rank where the belt remains Black for the rest of the student's life, but the level of expertise is indicated by degrees of the Black Belt (Dan) from 1st Degree (Il Dan) to 9th Degree (Gu Dan). 10th Degree is typically an honorary rank conferred upon retired Grandmasters or posthumously (after death). Black Belt degrees are usually indicated on the belt with taped stripes or sewn thread of various colors (often white or gold), or it is written in Roman Numerals or the script of the Asian language represented by the art (i.e.: Korean Hangul for Taekwondo). The geup is a grade of students learning the essential basics, or foundation of the art which focuses on individual techniques and some basic application. These grade progressions are similar to going through Grammar school to reach a Diploma upon graduation from Senior High School. The Dan is pursuing an advanced education like that of a college degree. It is like the building which is erected on the foundation of the color belt education. At the Dan level, more difficult techniques are mastered, more advanced fighting theory and applications are learned, including more emphasis on real life self defense scenarios, but also there is a greater focus on philosophy, spiritual enlightenment, ethical behavior and the wise use of their Martial Art skills. Also, the Black Belt learns the duties and responsibilities of a leader and role model for new students, to be humble in life, and a positive participant in the community. There are many different organizations and schools for Taekwondo education (including well-established federations, independently run associations, and improperly trained and uncertified instructors. Taekwondo is the South Korean National Martial Art and their world headquarters is at the National Academy called the Kukkiwon (Kuk - Key - wahn). http://www.kukkiwon.or.kr/english/examination/examination08.jsp?div=01

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Q: What is the differences between a kup and dan?
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