The Karate Belt "Obi"

Ok.... lets keep this simple,

In the beginning way back before the Japanese martial arts had been arranged into individual structured systems the only reason for a belt to be worn was to hold up your pants !

This was because the practice of Japanese martial arts was more a way of life (Budo) for the Samurai rather than a sport or pastime, each discipline evolved as part of the Samurai's military training and skills development in relation to close quarter combat.

Eventually, as the Samurai's time faded into history each discipline separated into structured systems in an attempt to simplify and form a structured learning method as well as encourage a disciplined learning method, partly to keep the traditions alive and partly as a sporting enterprise.

Much like many other disciplines such as Judo, Karate followed suit and it was decided that the different student grades (KYU) would best be represented by a coloured belt system in an attempt to distinguish between the different levels of technical skill and time spent studying.

Only when the KYU grades had been surpassed would the student be considered worthy to teach the more advanced skills and this was signified by a black belt or (SHODAN) each level of black belt was then separated into levels once again called (DAN) each Dan would signify the students development into even greater knowledge and skill, each Dan being represented by a simple thin red bar across the end of the belt.

Although there are some variations in the coloured belt order depending upon the system or style practiced the significance in relationship to each colour tends to be much the same and follows the principle that we start the journey at white which signifies purity and a willingness to learn and we travel into the darker colour's as our minds become more full of knowledge, eventually returning back to white as can be seen by the use of a worn out black belt that in time turns white,

which signifies that the wearer embraces the beginners mind again (SHOSHIN).

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