Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Close Look at Martial Arts Belts

With most types of martial arts, the color of the belt that you have signifies your rank within your style of martial arts; although they have no universal means or ranking within the martial arts world. More or less, they tell others how much you know about your specific martial art.

The use of belt colors in martial arts is an old practice, dating back hundreds of years. Belts and their use in martial arts all started by a man known as Jigoro Kano, who created the martial arts style known as Kodokan Judo. Kano started out by using only white and black belts to signify rank within his style of martial arts. His reason for using belt, was to specify which students could compete in different activities. For example, those with white belts couldn't compete in the same activities as those with black belts.

Shortly after Kano introduced his idea of using belts, other belt colors were introduced to the world of martial arts. Over the years, it became a great way of telling what experience a student had in his style - just by the look of his belt. Other styles began to use this system as well over the years, including Karate, Taekwondo and several others.

The only problem with using belts to signify ranking, is the fact that one school may have different requirements from another school. Even though they both may teach the same style of martial arts, their ranking system and requirements to earn a certain ranking may be totally different. This can cause confusion in ranks, especially if a black belt from one school isn't as versed in the style as a black belt from another school. While most school adhere to the same criteria, there are some schools that choose to incorporate their own unique style as well.

Although most martial arts styles use belt to signify rank, there are some martial arts such as Shootfighting that don't use belts at all. The styles that choose not to use belts don't use a ranking system either. They are more or less for self defense purposes. Pitfighting is another style that doesn't use belts either. These styles are great to learn for protecting yourself - although they differ from the traditional sense of martial arts.

All thing aside, belts are an innovation to martial arts. They give students something to aim for and a reason to keep practicing. Most students that study martial arts aim for getting a black belt, which is the most prestigious belt in martial arts. A black belt takes years of practice to obtain, as the student will promote and move through many lower ranked belts before getting the opportunity to earn the black belt.

Lora Severson is a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. She will be earning her second degree this year. She is also a photographer and offers a complete line of Martial Arts Gifts, Cards, Posters, T-Shirts and Apparel. All belt rank colors are represented and are suitable for karate, taekwondo, kung fu or judo.


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