Archive for September, 2015

Karate Belt Colours And Their Meaning

Two years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the idea that practicing martial arts has the potential to achieve a higher spiritual connection with God. Since I had always associated martial arts with defense, the idea did not immediately occur to me.

There are 10 Kyu grades up to Black belt

There are 10 Kyu grades up to Black belt

On my part, I was only looking for a change…  a change from my mundane tasks after work, some way to charge up myself…. As I already got my son enrolled into the Karate club and didn’t want to sit idle, I signed up for a free karate lesson. Within the hour, I was hooked.

A week later, I found myself on the Dojo (in Japanese it means the place where you learn the martial art).

Two weekly classes keep me fit today, but I now realize that the rewards go way beyond the physical.

My sensei (karate teacher), a dark sturdy man in his late thirties, has been a real inspiration. Concerned about the less number of women attending karate classes in the city, he is aiming at creating a pool of women – of all age groups – who can not only use self-defense when attacked but can also strike back at the enemy with sheer confidence in a given situation.

Karate is full of surprises and the best thing about it is challenging yourself, physically, emotionally as spiritually. This is done through a grading system. The coloured belt gradings are like stepping stones on the path to a student’s goal of Black belt. A grading represents that a student has reached a competent level with their current techniques and is ready to move on to learn and develop more advanced techniques and skill-sets.

Most traditional martial artists have high regard for their belts. It represents their determination and accomplishments of the ancient masters. Some believe the belt or obi is to the karate as the sword was to the samurai. It may be even be considered an extension of their being and each colour has a deep connection with the physical, emotional and spiritual state of mind.

Sensei explained, Just as you cannot rush a plant through its growing stages, a martial artist must progress slowly and naturally through the belts to achieve proficiency and maturity.

The idea of ranking karate belts according to colour was introduced by the Japanese at the turn of the 20th century. Each belt signifies a progression in skill, but more importantly a change in attitude. Today there are many different ranks in countless systems across the world. Let me explain to you what each colour belt signify based on Wado Kai technique (there are other explanations as well.)

White belt means absolute beginner, a clean slate, and is the colour of innocence. There is no shame in being a white belt and the instructor, most of all, realizes this because he or she was once one.

Yellow belt and Orange belt-these colours represent a new beginning as these colours are seen at sunrise. They reflect enthusiasm, passion, and energy. Yellow is also associated with hope. Orange is a darker colour, reflecting greater maturity than Yellow.

Purple belt represents springtime and creativity. It is the stage where a student is still fresh, but is becoming increasingly creative in applying techniques.

Blue belts are reaching toward the blue sky and show maturity in the middle stages on the road to black belt. The colour blue means calmness, responsibility, strength, and reliability, and blue belts typically embody these qualities. Also, in a blue belt you can see the fluidity of movements, like water.

Green belts are the last in the intermediate stages of training. Green signifies the branches and leaves growing upward and outward, reaching toward the sky. The change in colour from green to brown also portrays the change in colours to autumn as the student gains experience.

Brown is the colour of the earth and is the first advanced belt. It represents the roots of the tree planted firmly in the earth. It is a steadfast and reliable colour. At this stage the student becomes more watchful and critical, and is striving for perfection.

Black belt signifies power, both mentally and physically. It also represents mastery, calmness, and dignity. It is just the start of a path to true mastery of the art as the student climbs the ranks of black belts, 1st degree through 10th degree.

For a martial artist, the journey of perfecting technique doesn’t end with a black belt, it demands continual dedication and training. “Karate is like a pot of boiling water, and constant training is the fire that keeps the water boiling,” As a Dojo mate, who’s another Karate mom like me summed it up aptly.