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Old 04-30-2003, 11:22 AM   #20
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,997
Re: Colored belts:

Opher Donchin wrote:
I think that putting on a hakama at 5th kyu or 6th kyu like we do in ASU dojos is just plain silly.
Why do you think it's silly?
Dave Miller wrote:
The use of colored belts is pretty much an American invention to allow for some visual encouragement of progress.
Actually, as the rec.martial-arts FAQ states, "The belt system, as a formalized method of indicating rank, was popularized by Professor Jigoro Kano, founder of Kodokan Judo, around the beginning of [the 20th century]. There are varying opinions as to whether the practice predated Kano's use of it, and where it may have come from, but it certainly wasn't common (the more traditional practice in Japanese martial arts was, and is, the granting scrolls indicating various levels of abilities. The practice was adopted by Karate, formerly a fairly obscure Okinawan folk art, as that art as brought into the mainstream of Japanese martial arts."

The FAQ continues a few sentences down: "Some of these schemes are elaborately hierarchical; some schools use no belt ranking system at all. White belts almost always indicate beginners, black belts indicate those who have reaches some level of ability. There are various colors used for rankings both below black belt, and for high ranking black belts, and various explanations as to what they mean. The color schome -- and the implications for school etiquette -- vary from system to system and perhaps from school to school."

And to hopefully head off the inevitable "black belts came from a white belt gone dirty" urban legend, I'll continue to quote from the FAQ: "An often heard story holds that the colours are explained as follows: a trainee's belts, which, traditionally, were never washed, became progressively dirties with time (starting out white, becoming yellow with sweat, green with grass stains, and so on), finally changing to black over the years. This explanation, alas, is almost certainly fanciful."

-- Jun

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