Martial Arts Belts Meaning and What each colour represents

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martial arts belts - karate taekwondo ju jitsuIn the traditional sense martial arts belts have been used in Japan and Korea for hundreds of years, in the sense that they are part of traditional dress. The coloured martial arts belts, to denote grade and ability, is a fairly modern addition to the traditional martial arts class. Founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano first established it and it as taken on by Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate and founder of Taekwondo, Byung Jick Ro.

This grading system has caught on and is now popular all over the world in many Japanese martial arts and Korean martial arts. Styles include Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and even Kickboxing and really recent Brazilian Ju Jitsu has taken on the belt ranking system.

Even though they are relatively new in a traditional sense certain meanings have been attached to each of the belt’s colours. Almost every system has a different way of ordering the belts. The most out of place is the red martial arts belts, which can appear almost anywhere is the order. Let’s have a look at what each one of them means:

White Martial Arts Belts

– The white belts signifies the birth or a new beginning. The student in most styles (but not all) starts with a white belt, showing they are just beginning. Some say it represents a seed beneath the snow in winter.

Yellow Martial Arts Belts

– Think the first ray of light on a seed, starting a new life into the world. The opening of new knowledge and experience.

Orange Martial Arts Belts

– The orange colour represents the glowing warmth of the sun giving life to the newly growing plant. The student at this point is starting to acquire some techniques and put them into practice, just like the growing plant going up in the world.

Martial Arts Belts - Judo Ju jitsu Aikido

Green Martial Arts Belts

– As the plant grows it begins to leaf. It continues to grow and produce more and more leaves. The student at this point is getting a basic understanding of the style and the amount of training necessary to move forward.

Blue Martial Arts Belts

– The plant grows taller and taller and is reaching for the sky. This stage is all about growing and developing, the building of knowledge and starting to perfect the basic techniques.

Purple Martial Arts Belts

– Purple can also be represented by the sky, the changing light at dawn or dusk. Purple belts can be before or after

blue martial arts belts

. With either the blue belt or purple belt there is an understanding about what the style is all about and what you’ll need to become a black belt and instructor of the style.

Brown Martial Arts Belts

– Brown Belt is the strengthening of the bark on the plant, the toughening of the plant and protecting itself. The plant is strong enough to start spreading it’s knowledge and helping other grow in the same direction. Brown belts will start to help other students in class and help build their own knowledge through teaching and practice.

Red Martial Arts Belts

– A full burst of the sun to fill the plant with all the nutrients and life it needs.

Black Martial Arts Belts

– As new seeds start to grow on the plant and fall to the ground the seeds need to find a black space in the ground to grow and be nurtured. This is the black belts job, to help other develop their style while growing themselves. It s never ending circle of development and growth.

martial arts belts for karate and jiu jitsuAs you can se the order of martial arts belts is that the colours get darker and darker, it would be possible to simply re-dye your belt each time for the achieve grade. During the world wars and in the aftermath this was a cheap and affective way to have you new belt colour.

Myths and Legends on Martial Arts Belts

There are some myths about Martial Arts Belts, some say that the belt system was developed by a white belt getting dirtier and dirtier until it became black. Lovely a thought this is, with all your knowledge, sweat, blood all being poured into one belt and taking that one belt with you on your journey, it unfortunately has no historical truth. Japanese and Korean martial arts training spaces are pretty clean and no stinking dirty belts would be allowed in.

Another is that each stage represents an act that a student much undertake to achieve the grade. The most talked about is the red belt, a student must go into battle and survive to get their red belt. The blood of enemies staining the belt. This is also not true, especially as many styles have red belts in the lower ranks around the yellow and orange belts. It’s only Taekwondo that has it just before black belt.

Personally the reason I think the coloured belt grading system has caught on so well is because we all like small bite size goals to work towards. Whether is the next competition or events, the next belt is a reason to go to training and make sacrifices in other parts of your life. Without it many people would find it harder to train and be motivated. Any way to help people train more and be excited by martial arts is fine by me.

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