Shared by: mikew56
Black belt is the ultimate in martial arts The culture of black belt was started by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, in the 1880s. Since then the black belt has come to signify the highest level of competence. The other common colors in belt systems are orange, yellow, green and brown. These are awarded to students who have achieved different levels of proficiency. Some martial arts schools also award blue, purple and red belts but these are less common colors. The important point to note here is that colors do not stand for the same thing universally. What they signify varies from one martial arts style to another. For example, certain schools put the red belt high up in the 9th degree of Dan. Others award it to children who may have qualified technically to the black belt level but cannot be awarded the belt because they are not ready to shoulder the responsibility that comes with it. In Japanese art forms, the black belt has subdivisions called Dan grades. Higher degrees mean higher ranks. A Dan who is a degree higher will wear a black belt with more stripes than the lower degree. The added insignia depict seniority. Now both the Koreans and the Chinese are adopting the belt system. There is an interesting theory, unsubstantiated, about how the belt system came about. The earliest martial artists began their training wearing a white belt. With time, it became stained black with sweat, dirt and blood. What immediately goes against this theory is the uncommon standards of hygiene that are typical of traditional dojos. Martial art schools are not street fighting centers, but temples of learning…no bloodied or soiled uniforms would be tolerated inside. However the argument that could go for this theory is that some schools encourage that the belt should not be washed because washing it would mean washing away the knowledge. In some schools a black belt can be easy to obtain, in others it is quite hard to get. However, in most schools black belt tests are quite rigorous. Black belts tend to be handed out more easily in the West than in the land of its origin: Japan. In Japan black belts are given with time which means that the person getting them has a fair level of experience and skill. A black belt holder is certainly not a master as the westerners tend to think. It merely means that a person has reached a stage where the basic journey is over and a longer road has to be taken.