View Full Version : Which belt to wear?

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

03-17-2004, 03:09 AM
Hi everybody!
I have a question concerning the colored belt custom. I found a very interesting thread on this topic in this forum, but it confused me even more.
I currently train in a German Dojo associated with the DAB, hold the 4th Kyu and for that reason wear a orange belt.
Now I will be going to Japan for the next 2 years and plan to train there as well.
So here is my question: do I wear my orange belt or the white one ? What would be the politest way?

03-17-2004, 03:23 AM
So where in Japan?

Anyway the short answer is find a dojo and do what they do. You will find, with a few exceptions, that it is just white or black. Secondly, mudansha grades are usually not transferable by right but if you let the instructor know he may (or not) give you the same grade or let you test as soon as possible. Once they've seen how you move and know that you are serious about training - most instructors are pretty accomodating.

By the way - I've trained in a couple places where certain non-Japanese have insisted they wear their coloured belt in a sea of white and black. No one ever said anything but ....

Yann Golanski
03-17-2004, 03:48 AM
I've cross trained at a few dojo. I tend to tell sensei my background. Then I ask if I am welcome to come and train. Then I ask which belt should I wear and I need to wear a hakama or not.

As a rule, I found that most sensei don't really care about what you wear as long as you are honest about your training and are there to learn what they have to teach.

03-17-2004, 04:48 AM
When I first went to Japan, I took my coloured belt with me (coincidentally orange) as I didn't have a white one at the time. There was no problem with me wearing it for the week I was training, but they thought it was very "interesting". On subsequent trips I made sure to take a white belt for their keiko.

When I moved to Japan on a two year secondment through work, I had to drop my grade. My English association was not recognised by the Aikikai, therefore, when I joined the Aikikai Hombu, and a local dojo in Tokyo, I joined kyu-less. I was fortunate to have a Sensei at my local dojo who recognised that I had a little ability. I still had to accumulate the required number of hours between tests, but they jumped me up a few levels on the first test. I got back to where I "started" on the second.

Take a white belt and be prepared to continue from the beginning.



03-17-2004, 08:54 AM
When in Rome. I would recommend wearing what they wear. There is no requirement to recognize mudansha grades anywhere. Even dan ranks do not transfer across groups not affiliated.

L. Camejo
03-17-2004, 09:58 AM
John is correct.

Grades are generally not transferrable across organisations, though as a visitor one may be recognised at his/her level for the time being and not be required to restart at White belt unless becoming a permanent member of the school.

When I visit dojos of other styles I always pack a white belt as well as my current rank belt in the style I do. I tend to ascribe to the Gracie theory of "The belt only covers 2 inches of your a$$ the rest you gotta back up with skill.":) So it does not matter to me what colour belt I wear. There have been dojos where as a Brown belt I was asked to wear White, as a Black belt I was allowed not to wear hakama (I never take it with me) and I have also been asked to wear a White belt after informing the instructor that I had Black in one dojo.

As said earlier, you can't go wrong carrying a white belt imho.


John Boswell
03-18-2004, 10:47 AM
"The belt only covers 2 inches of your a$$ the rest you gotta back up with skill."
HA HA! That is about the funniest and truest thing I have ever heard about martial arts! :D

Thanks for sharing that one! ;)

03-18-2004, 11:10 AM

Great comment. I don't particularly care what color belt someone wears when visiting. When at a seminar it is better to follow the rules (some don't allow colored belts). Your point is well taken. I have seen all kinds of colors come through from various organizations-the real test however, it when they get on the mat.

03-18-2004, 11:54 AM
I don't even ask - I just wear my white belt. It doesn't really matter, all I want to do is train. Your rank is not relevant. It shows that you haven't overcome your ego yet. Like John says, when in Rome.... Don't EVER make a statement like: "In my dojo we do this"..... It just shows your true intent - you're trying to show off what little you know!

Choku Tsuki
03-18-2004, 10:34 PM
do I wear my orange belt or the white one ? The white one; it is more pure, plus it is less likely to get you into trouble. Be glad it's not orange with a black stripe; wear it and the next sound you'd hear is your wrist twisted like a stalk of celery (I'm thinking nikkyo and a 6'2" 5th kyu friend at hombu whose only offense was being tall). Good luck to you.

03-18-2004, 10:46 PM
If you're wearing a hakama, they can't see your belt anyways, right?

03-22-2004, 05:55 AM

Now I can at least save 20 grams of luggage weight by leaving my orange belt at home.

I´ll be in Tokyo by the way...

David Edwards
03-26-2004, 07:12 AM
I'm a kyu-grade, in an Aikikai association that doesn't have coloured belts except for kids (because it's a good motivational thing for them, and they like to have coloured belts). If I go and practice somewhere that has all sorts of coloured belts, I don't feel remotely out of place to be wearing a white one.. although I have belts in colours from white to black in other MA, it would feel funny to wear a coloured belt now as I associate them in my mind with two things: kids, and competetive MA. I realise this isn't always the case, as there are a lot of offshoot Aikido associations that don't have competetive attitudes yet do have coloured belts for adults.

David Edwards
03-26-2004, 07:19 AM
Oh, another related point, I remember several yudansha of varying grades from my dojo talking about this... if they go to some nearby dojos, they immediately out-rank the instructor. Does that mean they can't go and practice there? The sentiment tends to be that it's a bit underhand to turn up in a white belt if you're actually a fourth dan, but that it's overbearing to turn up in all your fourth dan glory when the instructor's just a shodan...

03-26-2004, 11:08 AM
I had a 4th Dan visiting on a regular basis when I was teaching as a shodan. No problem for either of us. We both learned. I occasionally asked him to teach. He occasionally accepted. Mainly he just trained.


David Edwards
03-26-2004, 11:34 AM
Then that's obviously the best situation; Aikidoka in general do not have huge egos, and therefore can be quite happy when somebody of a higher grade than themselves comes to join their class... I suppose I was just observing that these people who are going to the dojo can often worry about such things as how they might unintentionally overshadow the instructor, or something... Especially if the teacher there is someone that they don't actually know, if they've not been to that dojo before / met each other at courses / etc...

03-26-2004, 11:42 AM
I've been told, rule of thumb is wear white if you're a kyu, black if you're shodan (unless it's not recognized by association.)

But you can NEVER go wrong with a white belt.

Except in rooms that say "black belts only"