Thread: Washing Belts
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Old 04-12-2002, 02:43 PM   #12
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
Stinky obi

Originally posted by Arianah

What is the tradition with this? Is there an actual origin, or is it just something that our instuctors did, and their instructors did, and their instructors did, etc.? It can't go that far back, since, as my limited knowledge understands it, the use of belts as sign of rank is a relatively recent integration, right?

There's an old dojo legend that says if you wash your obi, you wash out all your knowledge. It's persistent, pervasive and wrong. The story goes that back in the old days, everybody just wore white belts till they got all grungy and dark, eventually black. When you belt was black (by which time, in MY belt-wearing experience, the thing would be a rag anyway), you were an expert.

It's bogus. Lots of folks like the romantic sound and feel of the tale, though.

Nobody wore anything resembling the modern judogi/karategi and obi much before the late 19th, early 20th century anyway (and there's some good evidence there was western influence on its design, too!) ...

Like so many other cherished dojo traditions, it's new, romantic and not necessarily the truth.

It is, however a neat tale!


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