How Does the Belt System in Karate Work?
There are many different types of martial arts, and each has a ranking system. Most rankings go from beginner to experienced master. Rankings vary widely between the many arts. Belts and belt colors vary even more than rankings do. Belt colors will almost always be different from one karate school to another, and the same is true in different types of martial arts, and even some instructors will vary on the way they use their belts. Some martial arts don’t even have belts, while others have only white and black belts. More commonly, however, karate schools carry a rainbow of colors to signify the advancement of their students from one level to the next. Instructors are also different in their behaviors.
Some karate instructors hand out belts like candy, yet others are very careful not to advance a student that doesn’t deserve it. A given color will commonly signify different ranks in different arts. But most importantly to note is that each school, art, and instructor is different when it comes to belts. It is important to note that while there are seven main colors of belts, many schools will add in additional colors.
The following belt system is used at Sandoval Freestyle Karate:
White has always been the symbol of purity. This is quite suiting, as those who begin in the art of karate are innocent and unknowing to the work and discipline required of them to achieve mastery of the art. This is the beginning of a voyage from innocence to mastery, and this level introduces the first ideas of karate.
Once a student has a yellow belt, he/she has advanced from the introductory level. He has now transformed from a pure novice to developing a basic understanding in the art of karate. The yellow belt is representative of one’s energy. In this mastery, the student has gained greater control over his body’s energy.
Stability is the symbol of an orange belt. Karate practice includes basic postures, punches, blocks and kicks. The white, yellow, and orange belts are the basic principal building blocks, and all other methods learned in higher belts are built upon these basic skills.
When a student has achieved purple belt status, this student have advanced from the beginner level to the intermediate level. Students at this belt color should understand all standard blocks and strikes, while also knowing how to contort and move their body to achieve the desired block or strike.
Once the basic skills of the white, yellow, orange, and purple belts have been mastered, the student must learn to become more adaptable to given situations. The purpose of the blue belt is to reflect that the student has demonstrated fluidity and adaptability. With fluidity comes greater strength and confidence.
The green belt is the belt where students become humbled and dedicated as training becomes harder and more serious. With this transition comes a great flow of emotion and sensitivity.
When a student achieves his/her brown belt, this is the introduction to the advanced level of martial arts. This belt symbolizes that the student is experienced and knowledgeable in the art that they are studying.
Those who reach red belts are nearing at mastery. Students are required to be both practical and creative in their techniques. Confidence sets in as one’s own personality is integrated with the many techniques they have already mastered.
A black belt is the summit of achievement in the martial arts. Many people work years to accomplish the mastery of a black belt. While the black belt is a symbol of great achievement, the belt itself is not the ultimate goal. The real reward is in the new self-awareness this belt represents.