Traditional Japanese Karate School

Belt Colors

White Belt Red Belt Blue Belt Yellow Belt Green Belt Brown Belt Black Belt

Click on the belt color above to learn more

White Belt White

White is the symbol of purity, at least in the English and Japanese based cultures. The new white belt student might be described as pure, being completely ignorant of the requirements of the art. The purity is lost as soon as the first exercise is performed in the dojo. The pristine color is gone forever through sweat and dust, and the journey through the color spectrum begins. There is no shame in being a white belt and the instructor, more than the others, is aware of this because he or she too was one once.

In the Honbu dojo in Japan, while under Mas Oyama, the tradition was that uchi-deshi (live-in or full-time students) white belts would shave their heads as a sign of their dedication. The third year uchi-deshi, newly graduated blackbelts, also did this to indicate humility, symbolising the return to the spirit of a beginner.

 

Orange – Stability

In some countries or dojos, the red belt is not used. For a while, in Japan the white belt gains first one black stripe, then a second one.  Currently (1997)  the system for the IKO(1) is an orange belt.  The reason for the change is that in some karate systems, the red belt actually denotes a very high rank e.g. 5th dan or higher, and to have junior kohai wearing such a belt would belittle those red-belted yudansha.

In the run-up to and throughout the red belt training, you develop the very basics of karate. You unlearn any ideas you had about how to fight, and you learn about your body. (Anyone who has been through this stage will tell you that this is where they learnt their body had muscles where they didn’t even know they had places!) It is here too that you begin to develop a sense of balance and coordination between the various body parts, with an emphasis on stance.

You should also be familiar with dojo etiquette at this stage.

 

Blue Belt Blue – Fluidity and Adaptability

While the red belt aspects of training must be continued, now the karetaka begins to work on the upper body, strength, flexibility, and coordination. It is here that you learn to overcome the urge to “Take it easy”, and if successful, training becomes a pleasure. The student begins to feel the benefits of training with an increased sense of well-being, a bigger bounce in ones step, and overall better fitness.

Here the karateka must start taking control of mind and body. This might take the form of not showing the pain of being hit during sparring, not showing exhaustion during training, not wiping the drop of sweat of ones nose because

one hasn’t yet been told to, not yawning despite extreme tiredness etc…

 

Yellow Belt Yellow – Assertion

Here you learn to focus your power, by concentrating it on the hara (the general area of the lower abdomen) or even the tanden (the single point in the lower abdomen that more or less is located at the centre of gravity of the body). Fortunately for most of us, this point is just behind where we tie the knot of our belts.

This is the first level where training begins to concentrate the psychological aspects of training, with an emphasis on mind-body coordination. It is here that the karateka must begin to develop both power and speed when performing techniques. The yellow belt is the last of the “raw beginner’s” belts and the karateka begins to take control of his or her life. body, and environment.

 

Green Belt Green – Emition and Sensitivity

Just as a plant starts to change to the colors of autumn, so too does a karate student change as he gains seasoning.  The green belt discovers that, to mature in the martial arts, he must begin to focus less on himself and more on helping others. This starts at green belt and continues through the brown belt level. A student also works on the proper names of his actions and their  meanings.

 

Brown Belt Brown – Practical and Creative

The brown belt student is the hardest worker in the training hall and cannot seem to absorb enough knowledge.  Whatever knowledge he gains, he gladly shares with the lower ranking students. One begins to see the futility of the process of learning; it limits your growth and inhibits spontaneity. While it is impossible to learn everything in life we must be prepared to face anything. The student therefore meditates often to find himself; to allow the inner self to open out so that spontaneity can flow. This is important because from now on he learns not to look at techniques just as a method to counter a situation, but as a necessary and spontaneous energy to meet an opposing force.

 

Black Belt Black

The black belt is seen not so much as an end, but rather as a beginning, a doorway to advanced learning: the individual now knows how to walk and may thus begin the journey.