martial arts belts

The meaning of the martial arts belts – Grading and Ranking Behind

martial arts belt

As you may already know, the grading and ranking of the martial arts belt vary depending on skills and styles. However, for all disciplines, it typically defines the degree of the martial artist’s knowledge and practice.

The general rule is that the knowledge a (martial arts) master has gathered during his/her practice is formed into a system and certain styles in order to transfer it to their students or disciples.Though the history of rankingis long and complex, the current ranking system for the belt (the Dan ranking) that appeared shortly after World War II has been accepted worldwide in almost all of categories of martial arts.

The Origin of the Martial Arts Colored Belt System

The martial arts colored belt ranking system was originated byDr. Jigoro Kano, who was Japanese and known as the “Founder of Modern Judo”, who first devised many of the concepts that are the foundation of Modern martial arts. Dr. Kano devised the colored belt system as a visible sign of a student’s progress, awarding the first “black belts” in the 1880’s.

Gichin Funakoshi, who was Okinawan and the founder ofShotokan Karateand often referred to as the “Founder of Modern Karate” adopted the belt ranking system and other organizational and philosophical concepts from Dr. Kano, who was both his contemporary and friend.

Byung Jick Ro, who is Korean and the founder ofSong Moo Kwanand known as “Founder of Modern Taekwondo” was a student of Gichin Funakoshi, receiving his black belt from him in 1939, and thus, the color belt ranking system has been part of Modern Taekwondo since it was developed in the early 1940’s.

Meaning of the martial arts belts Colors

Originally, the white belt was simply dyed to a new color. This repeated dying process dictated the type of belt color and the order of the colors. The standard belt color system is white, yellow, gold, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red and black. Due to the dying process, it was only practical to increasingly use darker colors. All of this came about shortly after the Second World War, when Korea and Japan were very poor countries. Dying the belts to a new color was a cheap way to have a visible, simple and effective ranking system.

Martial Arts Belt Display

  • White Belt: 

White signifies a birth, or beginning, of a seed. A white belt student is a beginner searching for knowledge of the Art. The white belt is the beginning of life’s cycle, and represents the seed as it lies beneath the snow in the winter.

  • Yellow Belt or Sash:

Yellow signifies the first beams of sunlight which shines upon the seed giving it new strength with the beginning of new life. A yellow belt student is given his first ray of knowledge, opening his mind, from his instructors.

  • Yellow Belt or Sash:

Yellow signifies the first beams of sunlight which shines upon the seed giving it new strength with the beginning of new life. A yellow belt student is given his first ray of knowledge, opening his mind, from his instructors.

  • Green Belt or Sash:

Green signifies the growth of the seed as it sprouts from the earth reaching toward the sun and begins to grow into a plant. A green belt student learns to strengthen and refine his techniques.

  • Blue Belt or Sash:

Blue signifies the blue sky as the plant continues to grow toward it. A blue belt student moves up higher in rank just as the plant grows taller. The light feeds the plant so it can continue to grow. The student is fed additional knowledge of the Art in order for his body and mind continue to grow and develop.

  • Purple Belt or Sash:

Purple represents the changing sky of dawn, as once again the student undergoes a new change and prepares for the transition to advanced student. A purple belt begins to understand the meaning of the black belt.

  • Brown Belt or Sash:

Brown represents the ripening of the seed, a maturing and harvesting process. A brown belt is an advanced student whose techniques are beginning to mature, and he is beginning to understand the fruits of his hard work as a beginner.

  • Red Belt or Sash:

Red signifies the red-hot heat of the Sun as the plant continues growing toward it. As a red belt student acquires more detailed knowledge, just as the plant grows slowly toward the Sun, so the red belt student learns to be more cautious with his knowledge and physical abilities. Red is a sign of danger, and the red belt is beginning to become dangerous with their knowledge and abilities.

  • Black Belt or Sash:

Black signifies the darkness beyond the Sun. A black belt seeks new, more profound knowledge of the Art. As he begins to teach others, he plants new seeds and helps them grow and mature. His students, many whom will form roots deep into the Art, blossom and grow through the ranks in a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge, and enlightenment.

however, is a martial arts that does not utilize the belt ranking system, rather, it focuses on the color of the gloves. Beginners would start with blue gloves and they would work their way to achieving the silver/ honorary platinum gloves, the highest level of Savate practice one can attain. It usually takes about three and a half years of consistent practice to reach the ‘master’ level of the silver glove. Before World War II, you’d be interested to know that Savate practitioners used to wear colored belts, the same goes for boxers before World War I. Nowadays boxers, Savate andMixed Martial Arts(MMA) fighters, would usually compete for the world champion’s belt, somewhat a tribute to this past tradition.