History of DOBOK
Our martial art was given the name Taekwondo to distinguish its techniques, philosophy
and spiritual foundation from the other arts that exist and like everything else; it is
steeped in tradition and history.
For this same reason, the uniform we wear during training, gradings and competitions is
considered to be a primary necessity and an important part of our overall understanding
of historical significance. It is unique to our own organisation as well.
The jacket and trousers worn during our training is called a “Dobok” - in ancient Korean,
this was known as a “tobok”, meaning “Clothing of the Way”.
It is bound together around our bodies using a belt (Ti,) and is colour coded according to
the student’s rank – White through to Black.
It is also derived from a traditional Korean clothing called “hanbok”.
The origin of the Dobok is unknown but history shows that it was used during Korea’s
Three Kingdom Era and wall paintings discovered of the Koguryo dynasty show people
wearing white costumes, consisting of trousers and a long jacket, tied together with black
silk around the waist – this evolved over the years into the style of uniform we wear
Links to the dobok are also apparent from the Samurai, who when practising outside of
their outer battle armour and silken garments, would strip down to their underwear to
train – this under layer of clothing was white in colour symbolising purity and beauty in
death and is also aligned to the colour we use today.
The Samurai were also believers of not wearing shoes, when indoors and also slippers
were difficult to train in - We therefore see today that we use no footwear when training.
The traditional hanbok was based on three shapes that signify the foundation of the
universe "samilshingo." The shapes were the circle "won" that symbolized heaven, the
square "bang" that symbolized earth, and the triangle "kak" that symbolized man. The
circle is related to the number "one," the square to the number "two," and the triangle to
the number "three." The unity of the three shapes is called "han." These three shapes are
symbolized in the hanbok: the waist is the circle, the legs and sleeves are the square, and
the hip or torso area is the triangle. In comparison to the principle of Eum-Yang, the
trousers are Eum or earth, the jacket is Yang or heaven, and the belt is man, who ties
The Dobok is therefore considered a primary necessity in training, gradings and
tournaments which is important for the following reasons:
o It instills pride in the student as a practitioner of Taekwondo
It identifies the degree of skill that the wearer has attained
The style of the Dobok is symbolic of Taekwondo’s heritage and tradition
Belt and grade changes indicated by colour create incentive and position
The Dobok is extremely practical and healthy in terms of the flexibility of arms
and legs whilst training.
The official uniform distinguishes Taekwondo practitioners from other martial
arts as well as unifying people as equal.
It is very important for each student to keep their dobok clean at all times, wear it
correctly, tie the belt appropriately and treat it with respect understanding its