There are many theories why present day martial art schools use the coloured belts and sashes as a ranking system and where the concept of using belts came from. We will discuss two different philosophies, one that is widely accepted by many practitioners and another one that can be considered as a legend, or story that was passed down by your grandfather. Please keep in mind that the current belt ranking system has only been around about 120 years. Also, keep in mind that not all Martial Arts are the same, your school may have a completely different ranking system than discussed here.
One of the most common arguments comes from the founder of modern day Judo, Jigoro Kano. As an both educator and sports enthusiast, Dr. Kano used a black belt to represent his dan (highest-ranking) students in his school, the Kodokan. However, he later realized his kyu (lower ranking) students needed something as an outward tangible object to acknowledge their accomplishments and encourage their efforts. So he implemented the different colors system to signify the progress that his kyu made over time.
Eventually, other Japanese martial art styles such as Karate, Aikido, Kendo, etc. incorporated and adopted the Judo belt ranking system when Gichin Funakoshi, an Okinawan karate master and who is considered as the “Father of Modern Karate” demonstrated his martial art style, Shotokan, at the Kodokan.
The other theory, known as “the belt getting dirty” could be considered as a martial arts folklore. When new students started their training they were given the rank of white belt, which is signifying a birth or beginning. Based on this theory, students were not allowed to wash their belts, therefore the belt would “get dirtier” the more they practiced. Over time the belt would become black, signifying the amount of time the student spent practicing and typically their level of skill.
As a new student in a martial art, you will most likely be given a white belt at the beginning of the training and then you will progress through a color system on your way toward a black belt. However, contrary to popular belief, the black belt does not really signify the end of your training, but rather just the beginning. In most martial arts, once you earn your black belt you are no longer considered a kyu, you are now what is called a dan.
Dan have their own internal ranking system known as degrees. You are a first degree black belt when you first attain this, over time you can test for your 2nd degree black belt (or 2nd dan) and so on and move through. Most martial arts consider a 10th degree black belt to be at the highest level of mastery.
As you train in any martial art, don’t get discouraged if you are stuck on a certain belt for a longer period of time. It usually takes many years or more to progress through the belts and this is actually one of the lessons that participating in Martial Arts will teach you. Progressing through the belts requires a great deal of effort, time, dedication, self-confidence, patience and self-discipline. The skills that you will learn in your martial arts training will apply to almost every aspect of your life and will help you succeed in areas where you never thought Martial Arts would help.
Martial arts are essentially a set of physical as well as mental skills that are progressively instructed, developed and polished by a fitness instructor typically called “sensei” for Japanese arts as well as “sifu” in Cantonese.
Martial arts convert as “the arts of war”, as well as they consist of a multitude of weaponless battle methods, concentrated mainly on self defense.
Based upon ancient wisdom as well as approach, fighting styles not just strengthen the body of the experienced, yet they likewise fortify his mind and his spirit. In Eastern society, self control, discipline, patience, recognition, are taken into consideration to be the traits of a real warrior, and also fighting styles generally concentrate on creating these skills to practicing pupils.
In old times, martial arts were concealed as well as practiced in silence; being an apprentice in these abilities was a fantastic opportunity. Nonetheless, today there are numerous colleges that continue the typical trainings of the fantastic ancient masters.
Fighting style are separated into various styles, linked together by the universal asian way of thinking. If you want to start exercising a martial art, you must select a design that finest satisfies your needs as well as capacity. Some fighting styles concentrate much more on physical stamina, while others concentrate on technique as well as response. The best thing to do before picking the suitable style is assisting to a few training courses as well as asking the fitness instructor whether you suit or otherwise.
One more essential element you should consider is that martial arts need a lot of aspiration, dedication, perseverance as well as technique. You need to remember that the abilities are discovered progressively, as well as it requires time to accomplish higher ranks.
When you have discovered the style that fits you best, see to it that your trainer is certified and that he teaches in a friendly way. Regardless of experience or rank, not all fighting styles masters have the ability to instruct! You must seek an instructor that stands as a real “raw model”, a person whose teachings match his perfects and also beliefs.
Having discovered the best instructor as well as training gym, all you need is equipment. Martial arts equipment is sometimes optional and it mainly contains an uniform or sparring and protective devices such as boxing handwear covers, head gear as well as breast defense. You can either acquire these traditional attires, or make them yourself. Consult your teacher as well as figure out his requirements pertaining to the appropriate training attire.
The fighting style equipment likewise consists of a belt. It is made of a certain textile material as well as its objective is to distinguish the ranks of the students. The black belt marks the highest degree of experience and it can be gotten with years of discovering and also technique.
Whether you pick to practice martial arts as a sport or for self-defense, its advantages are substantial. Martial arts enhance your physical problem, along with your concentration, interest and also ambition. They enhance the body and mind entirely and aid you achieve pride, self-confidence and also balance.
Once you’ve decided that you want to take up the training for a martial art, you’ll need to decide which one is best for you. You may well be restricted by the schools available in your area, but if you’re lucky you’ll have the choice of at least a few different types. There are many different types of martial arts (and even many variations within those basic types) so it’s important to make sure that you research the techniques and features to find the best fit for your fitness, lifestyle and needs.
It’s also important to note that there are as many interpretations of the martial arts styles as there are instructors who do it differently. Many students also interpret the class differently than other students in the same class, so other people’s opinions are not always the best determiner of what style you should pursue. While you are trying to find the martial art that’s right for you, it is helpful to also try a few classes to get a feel for the style, instructor and school.
Karate can be translated as “empty hand” which means that it is a martial art performed without weapons. While the history of Karate is somewhat vague, its ancient roots have been traced back to China in the 5th century B.C. The more modern form of Karate began in Okinawa, Japan during the late 1700s. There was a weapon ban in Okinawa at this time, so people had to come up with system of self defense that used empty hands – they combined aspects of Chinese martial arts with the Te traditional to Okinawa. By the early 1900s it began spreading throughout Japan. In 1964, the Federation of Karate Organizations was formed as a means to create some continuity for Karate world-wide. Even so, there are many different styles and variations of Karate today.
Karate is a linear martial art. It uses a wide variety of movements: kicks, punches, blocks, strikes, evasions and throws. Training focuses on having a strong offense and puts equal importance on the three areas of the art: basics, sparring and forms.
• People who practice Karate use their hips to generate power. • Ranks, values and styles differ from organization to organization. • Karate, which can be hard and straight line, is very disciplined and some traditional schools might seem very harsh.
Using the influences of the traditional art of Daito Ryo Aikijo-Jitsu, Japanese fencing, spear fighting and Omotokyo, Moriehie Usehiba developed the martial art of Aikido (“the peaceful art”). He first used this name for it in 1942. The basis of this art is to live in a spirit of protection instead of physical domination. The art of Aikido is ruled by the International Aikido Federation in Tokyo, Japan.
Aikido is a circular martial art. Instead of winning a fight with physical domination, Aikido teaches its participants to control and redirect the negative energy. This leads to a commitment to both peaceful resolutions of conflict as well as self-improvement through training. People who practice Aikido learn to use throws and pins as well as how to immobilize their attackers. They don’t use punches and kicks, except as a distraction. The basis of the art is to learn how to stay out of the line of attack and gain control of the attacker’s balance in order to stop the attacker.
• Aikido does use weapons: jo (a 4-5 foot long staff), Bokken (a wooden sword) and a Tanto (a wooden knife). • Aikido is a non-violent method of self-defense. • The quality of the belt ranks is strictly regulated. • Aikido lacks many of the kicks and strikes common to other martial arts.
Dr. Jigro Kano developed Judo after he was enrolled at Tenjin Shinyo ryo School of Ju-Jitsu because he was frustrated with all of the student injuries. Judo is a gentle martial art that helps its participants strive to perfect themselves and to be a value to society. Judo, which means “the gentle way”, improves physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Judo uses throwing, grappling, pins, holds, locks and choking. However, the training focuses on safety – participants need to work towards top conditioning and Judo is always practiced on mats. Judo participants learn the art through a series of forms that consist of throwing and sparring – there are no strikes in competitive Judo.
• Judo has a strict set of rules and a clear instructional sequence. • Judo rules, training and ranks are fairly standardized throughout the world. • Judo helps develop complete body control, fine balance and fast reflexes. • Judo uses a lot of grappling, throws, grabbing and ground work. Because of this, it often reminds people of wrestling.
While the beginnings of Taekwondo can be traced as far back as 30 B.C., modern Taekwondo began after Korea was liberated in 1945. Koreans wanted to eradicate all Japanese influence on martial arts, so they began connecting the Korean martial arts schools and styles to create a national sport. The name Taekwondo (“the way of the hand and foot”) was chosen in 1965. 1973 marks the beginning of the World Taekwondo Federation. It became a part of the Olympics in 2000.
Taekwondo consists of four disciplines including patterns, sparring, self-defense and a break test. Taekwondo is primarily a kicking art and there is a large emphasis on sport. People who train Taekwondo need to combine philosophy, mental and physical discipline and ability to their training.
• Taekwondo is recognizable by its high kicks. • Taekwondo black belts exams require a break test. • Taekwondo training can include the use of vital points to attack an enemy. • Taekwondo schools are often kid- and sport- oriented. • Taekwondo students often are expected to compete in many tournaments.
The development of T’ai Chi (translated as “the supreme ultimate”) is credited to Chang San-feng, but Wang Chung-yueh and Chiang Fa elaborated on the original art. They took San-feng’s 13 postures and devised continuous sequences that linked them together. T’ai Chi used to be a greatly defensive art – even deadly. So much so, that the families who knew it guarded it fiercely. Now, T’ai Chi is less violent and is used to get rid of more figurative enemies such as stress and fatigue.
People who practice T’ai Chi may use weapons, but the underlying theory is that the art is used to unify the mind, body and spirit. It is often now used to guide negative energy away from oneself. There are two ways to practice T’ai Chi. The long form can take 30 minutes or more while the short form can take less than 10 minutes. The forms focus on continuous movement that leads to relaxation and solid stances. In T’ai Chi, each arm is used to protect half of the body and the hands never reach past the toes. T’ai Chi can be done alone (forms) or with a partner (self-defense training).
• T’ai Chi teaches awareness of balance and what affects it in oneself and in others. • T’ai Chi has five major styles, but there are always new ones developing. • The basis of T’ai Chi’s self defense is to meet force and stick with it until can be redirected instead of resisting it. • T’ai Chi focuses on slow movements, so people who like vigorous exercise often find this martial art to be boring and slow.
Kung Fu (translated as “skill and effort”) actually refers to over 200 styles of martial arts (most of which stem from Chinese martial arts). Kung fu can be traced back to the shoalin temples where the monks used it for health and spiritual developments as well as a method of self defense. During the early 1900s, Kung Fu, also called Wu Shu, spread throughout China when fighting arts became very popular. In the 1960s and ‘70s Kung Fu’s popularity grew due to the Bruce Lee movies.
Kung Fu is central to the Chinese culture and is used both for physical wellness and artistic expressions. Within the many different styles of Kung Fu, there are variations from hard and linear to soft and circular in technique. Some use weapons (including the common sword, saber, spear and cudgel) and others do not. The seemingly common thread through them all, however, is to teach the students to respect the teacher and other Kung Fu styles. Kung Fu also requires (as well as builds) mental strength in addition to physical strength to be successfully practiced. Kung Fu students also often practice some techniques individually and others with groups. In many schools, beginning training starts with what is called the Southern Fist style. It involves footwork, kicks and hand combat techniques.
• Kung Fu refers to the hundreds of different styles of martial arts in China. • People who practice Kung Fu learn many different fighting techniques including fist fighting, weapon fighting, routines and combats. • Many Kung Fu styles use similar principals such as, proper diet, and breathing, concentration and meditation exercises. • Some Kung Fu styles use weapons while others do not. • Kung Fu training improves physical conditioning through strengthening of the joints and increases speed and reactions. • Kung Fu’s major difference over other martial arts is that it not only focuses on outer, physical power, but also involves training the mind and inner power through breathing exercises and meditation.