THIS WEEK: We delve into the history of the belt colours, the belt order at LIONS Self Defence & Leadership Martial Arts in Leicester and the belt symbology of the belt colours!
There are countless tales of how the martial arts coloured belt system came into existence, and it’s fun/interesting to know about them…
Some people say that ‘in the old days’ a student would wear a white belt to hold the uniform together and after many years of training the blood, sweat and dirt would turn the belt black. This is very unlikely because the martial arts come from a very long tradition of cleanliness.
Another such story talks of how certain soldiers could wash their uniforms but not their belts and so their belts took on the colours of the environment in which they were deployed. The darkness of the belt represented that they had been on many deployments. However there is no evidence for this story either.
The martial arts coloured belt system was founded by Dr. Jigoro Kano Sensei. He was an instrumental pioneer in Japanese martial arts (predominantly JuDo). The belt colours were created to be a visual symbol of a students progression and journey through the arts.
Gichin Funakoshi Sensei who was the founder of Shotokan karate (the primary style upon which our LIONS system is based) adopted the coloured belt system in Karate from Dr Jigogo Kano Sensei.
Since then many schools, styles and systems have adopted the belt system. Some schools have more belts than others depending on the time between belts. For example some schools only have 4 belts but have a time of 1 year between each belt whereas others have 15 belts with a shorter time between belts.
The colours in each school also vary depending upon the founders lineage and their own interpretation of the belt colours.
LIONS BELT COLOURS AND THEIR MEANING
White belt – The white belt represents purity, the breaking of the plant shoot through the snow as it sees light for the first time. At LIONS this stage represents the student taking the first brave step to being a LEADER and a FUTURE BLACK BELT!
Gold belt – The yellow sun rises, the seeking of the source of growth. Here the student is yearning to learn more. They have shown perseverance and achieve their uniform. This is an exciting time!
Red belt – The sun at its closest point with rays directly on the plant – soaking with passion and energy to grow. Now the student has settled in and learned the etiquettes of martial arts and begins to learn how the lessons can be applied to home and school.
Orange belt – The sun at its highest point, a goal for the plant to reach to. Now the student is striving to be their best self.
Green belt – The plant gets greener (more knowledge), grows in the direction of the sun.
Blue belt – The plant sets its sights on new heights as it reaches towards the sky. The sky represents the vastness and infinite amount of learning as well as the open-mindedness of the student.
Purple belt – as the sun begins to set, the plant beings its journey into the darkness like the student contemplating what their shortcomings are and what areas to work on. This is the stage where self-awareness begins.
Brown / White Belt – Roots begin to take into the ground. Foundations become stronger and the lessons of the arts begin to sink in.
Brown belt – The plant bows its head to the earth from which it came, learns humility for all things learns how the art can be used to serve others. At this stage the student can be invited to join the ranks of the prestigious LIONS S.T.O.R.M team (Student Team Of Role Models). S.T.O.R.M team members represent LIONS at special events and can begin to take additional qualifications.
Brown / Black Belt – The plant begins to shed leaves in the same way the student begins to disregard errors and physical mistakes / shortcomings.
Black / White Belt – The student begins to disregard their ego and understands the true essence of martial arts as the pursuit of perfection of character.
Black Belt- Represents the death of the ego and separatist thoughts. It also represents the darkness and life long search for enlightenment. No other colour shows up on black representing that the martial artist is a leader and other people’s bad habits or traits do not rub off on the martial artist. Black belt represents the mastering of basics and the start of the journey towards mastery!
As well as the variations of colours and numbers of belt in each style and system there is also a variation on how the belt should be tied. I have a video on Facebook of how the belt should be tied but will be writing a full post about it next week!