The Meaning of Karate Belts
Although the West’s general understanding of Asia is limited, it has
adopted a few of Asia’s traditions whole-heartedly. Among the most
prominent imports are martial arts. They are just too cool to overlook.
Beginning with Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and the “Karate Kid” movies, the
West has embraced martial arts as both a sport and a self-defense
But even though we are all familiar with the words “karate, karate-chop,
wax-on, wax-off, and black belt” most of us don’t really know much else.
If you’ve ever been curious about what the different colors mean and
what exactly karate is, here’s a quick summary:
Among the most popular forms of marital arts are the following. Karate, Judo, and Jujutsu are from
Japan. Taekwondo is Korean. Kung Fu is Chinese. Muay Thai is from Thailand. Most of these use belts
as an indication of rank and skill. While each art and even school uses variations, the following is one of
the most common orders of belts and some indication of their meaning.
The Levels of Belts!
White: A novice wears white, which some say symbolizes the pureness of birth or a beginning.
Yellow: The next level is yellow. It can be compared to the first beam of light the seed meets, which will
give it strength to develop further.
Orange: Next comes orange, which represents the growing power of the sun. As the student continues
to learn from his/her master, he/she will gain strength and continue to develop.
Green: As the student develops, he/she can be compared to the green plant that is growing and
developing into a recognizable organism.
Blue: (Sometimes precedes green.) The middle stage is blue. It
is often compared to the blue sky that the growing plant is
reaching towards, just as a student progresses to higher ranks.
Purple: As the student progresses towards advanced levels
he/she becomes a purple belt. This can represent the changing
color of the sky at dawn which indicates a new development of
Brown: Once a student reaches brown belt, they are considered
advanced. The brown is said to represent the ripening of the seed, preparing for harvest and the fruits
of their labor.
Red: (Red is the most variable – sometimes representing novice, other times coming before/after brown
and even black. However, red usually comes before or after brown.) The red usually represents the red-
hot sun. As the student/plant reaches higher levels, they also learn to be more cautious with their
developing powers. Red can also represent danger, as the student’s skills make him/her dangerous.
Black: Black represents the darkness beyond the sun or the universe. As a master fighter, the master
seeks further, mystical knowledge of the art and begins teaching students of their own. There are ten
rankings within the black belt category that masters can work to achieve.
If you or your children would like to learn a form of martial arts, there are great opportunities right in
your neighborhood with Taekwondo in Provo or Martial Arts Summer Camp.
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