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Martial Arts - Belts

Among practitioners of the various martial arts, the various colors of your belt tells others how much you know about your specific martial art form and roughly where your skill level lies.

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With most types of martial arts, the color of the belt that you have will signify your rank and skill level within your particular style of martial arts.

Belts of various colors are used by many of the martial arts schools to signify rank within that particular style, although they have no universal meaning or ranking within the martial arts world overall. More or less, they tell others how much you know about your specific martial art.

The use of belt colors in martial arts cannot be classed as "modern" as it dates back hundreds of years.

The use of belts in martial arts is generally conceded to have been started by a man known as Jigoro KanoKodokan Judo: The Essential Guide to Judo by Its Founder Jigoro KanoKodokan Judo: The Essential Guide to Judo by Its Founder Jigoro Kano, who created the style known as Kodokan JudoThe First One Hundred Years of Judo Kodokan Ju Jitsu. Kano began at first using only white and black belts to signify rank within his style of martial arts. His original reason for using belts was to specify which students could compete in different activities. For example, those with white belts could not compete in the same activities as those with black belts.

Shortly after Jigoro Kano had introduced his idea of using belts to signify levels of martial arts competence, belts of other colors were introduced to the world of martial arts. Over the following years, it became an accepted method of telling what experience a student had in his style - just by looking at his belt. Over time, many styles of close combat, including Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and other martial arts forms, began to use this system as well.

The main problem with using belts to signify ranking is the fact that one school of self defense often has different requirements for achievement from another school. Even though they both may teach essentially the same style of martial arts, their ranking system, and requirements to get a particular ranking, may be totally different. This can cause confusion among practitioners and other observers as well, especially if a holder of a black belt from one school isn't as versed in the style as a holder of a black belt from another school. Even though most schools will stick fairly close to the same criteria, there are schools that choose to make use of their own unique style as well.

Even though most martial arts styles use some sort of system of belts to signify rank, there are some martial arts, such as Shootfighting, which don't use belts at all.

The styles that choose not to use belts commonly don't make use of other rankings either, as they are more or less for self defense purposes. Pitfighting is another style that does not use belts either, nor do most schools which teach street fighting techniques. These styles are great to learn for self defense - although they differ from what are considered to be the traditional martial arts.

All else aside, belts are a method that many martial arts use to give students something to aim for, and a reason to keep practicing. Most students that study martial arts aim for the highest level, most hoping to earn a black belt, which is commonly the most prestigious belt in martial arts practices. A black belt normally takes years of practice to obtain, and the student must move through many lower ranked belts before getting the opportunity to try and earn the covetous black belt.

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Martial Arts Belts - Copyright 2016 by Donovan Baldwin
Page Updated 2:05 PM Monday 5/9/2016