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Old 01-03-2007, 08:25 AM   #1
pezalinski
 
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Question "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

A friend of my remarked on how his white belt had darkened to a dirty brown color over time -- he noticed this just before taking his nikyu test... It was quite worn and well used...

So I raise the question: Is it possible that the simple color-belt ranking system (white-brown-black) is just the result of obvious indication-of-time-trained as marked by the condition of ones belt, systematically formalized to actual colors?


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

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Old 01-03-2007, 09:05 AM   #2
Moses
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Basically, yes
Originally it was rope that was used to hold up yer pants, if you've been practicing a while your 'rope' belt would get old & dirty
Moses
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:34 AM   #3
Ron Tisdale
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Yikes.

The Myth that just won't die. Do a search on this topic...

Best,
Ron

This link should be informative.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...5&page=1&pp=25

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:02 AM   #4
DonMagee
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Must resist posting......

Drat! I can't. Ok, must resist being on topic....

Phew!

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:37 AM   #5
crbateman
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Seek professional help, Don. Dr. Seiser? Paging Dr. Seiser!
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:00 PM   #6
mriehle
 
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Peter Zalinski wrote:
So I raise the question: Is it possible that the simple color-belt ranking system (white-brown-black) is just the result of obvious indication-of-time-trained as marked by the condition of ones belt, systematically formalized to actual colors?
Absolutely. What else could it be? It's obvious, isn't it? All that stuff about Kano Sensei inventing the system was just him stroking his own ego. No really. I have this on Good Authority from A Very Reliable Source.

Trust me.

Would I lie to you?

On a serious note: this myth has been around forever and will never die. Those of you who'd like to see it die will just have to get used to it. For one thing, it's a nice myth whose value has nothing to do with its veracity or credibility. For another, it has the ring of an idea which ought to be credible even if it isn't.

So, there ya go.

Myths are myths because they speak some truth to part of us that often has nothing to do with the facts (or non-facts) as presented.

So, maybe a worthwhile question is what truth does this myth speak to us?

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Old 01-03-2007, 12:03 PM   #7
ramenboy
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

what ron said.

found this

"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."

all i know is the only other color my white belt ever got was off-white.

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Old 01-03-2007, 12:19 PM   #8
Ketsan
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Wash it. You don't know what's living in it.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:27 PM   #9
Ron Tisdale
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Wash it. You don't know what's living in it.
Ego?


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Old 01-03-2007, 12:36 PM   #10
Aristeia
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

It's true! Sensei sokittomi told me so and that's all I need. *sticks fingers in ears* lalalalalalalalalalalala

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:47 PM   #11
Ketsan
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Ego?

I prefer the term ki
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:51 PM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Repeat after me...

OWA

TAGOO

SIAM


Ron Tisdale
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Old 01-03-2007, 01:55 PM   #13
Ketsan
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Repeat after me...

OWA

TAGOO

SIAM

Think I'll pass. Kotodama's not really my thing.
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Old 01-03-2007, 02:30 PM   #14
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Actually, my ninjitsu sensei said that the belts corresponded to the hardcore hazing rituals back then. First, they peed on you - yellow belt. Next, they beat you with oak sticks wrapped in leaves - green belt. Then, they stabbed you with tanto - red belt... turning to brown belt. Finally, they dragged you behind a horse until the belt turned black. These endurance trials were vital to the development of one's ki. These were done away with after WWII because the occupation forces wanted to prevent the development of insurgent bujutsu armies - they knew that warriors so-trained were impervious to bullets and could kill with kiai shouts that could travel great distances and penetrate armor. Since then, these ki development practices have never been reintroduced because a bunch of wusses are always whining about human rights and lawsuits and such. The loss of these secret ki development techniques is why Aikido is such a wimpy art today.
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Old 01-03-2007, 05:34 PM   #15
mriehle
 
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

I'm really happy to see that everyone is taking this thread so seriously.

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Old 01-03-2007, 08:27 PM   #16
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

As seriously as it deserves

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:34 PM   #17
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Michael Riehle wrote:
On a serious note: this myth has been around forever and will never die. Those of you who'd like to see it die will just have to get used to it. For one thing, it's a nice myth whose value has nothing to do with its veracity or credibility. For another, it has the ring of an idea which ought to be credible even if it isn't.

So, there ya go.

Myths are myths because they speak some truth to part of us that often has nothing to do with the facts (or non-facts) as presented.

So, maybe a worthwhile question is what truth does this myth speak to us?
Ok. Seriously, I agree with what you say about myths in general, but this particular myth doesn't seem pregnant with a lot of meaning. Guys training until their belts get dirty is not exactly the myth of Sisyphus or Icarus. Deconstruct it and you get the idea that people are willing to believe people trained really hard and didn't wash their clothes much. I think this is a little more like an urban legend than a real, meaningful myth.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:47 PM   #18
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

actually in fairness it's a bit more than that. It's the underlying message that a grade is to be earned through hard work blood sweat and tears, rather than something to be conferred every three months as long as you're paying your fees.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 01-04-2007, 02:03 AM   #19
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

That might be the intended 'moral of the story' of people who propagate it, but I can't see how you can say that is there as a meaning in the story itself. The question was about what is true about us that is there within the story that gives it appeal, not what uses you could put the story to. Analagously, it's like saying that the myth of Sisyphus is about how you shouldn't wasting your time doing pointless things or you should come up with creative solutions to problems. Sure, you could draw that conclusion, but that's not really what the myth is about or why it has remained interesting to people for so long.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:04 AM   #20
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

For those that are on the fast track, I found a way to hasten the process. In addition to not washing the belt, don't wash yourself -- ever!! Not only will your white belt eventually turn black faster, but so will your entire gi!!

(I actually have it on good authority that this is one of the gokui for the origins of ninjutsu -- though that peeing on the belt thing may have been another lost facet)

Sincerely . . .
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:16 PM   #21
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

When I started Aikido, I too have heard stories about the belt colors (green = grass stains, brown = dirt stains, black from practicing). I suppose the myth doesn't really lend much purpose besides explaining the colors. However, I have also heard that once achieving a black belt, eventually the belt will fray and the inner weavings will show. Also, what I was taught was that Aikido eventually will help the practitioner understand harmony which would lead to him or her avoiding fights or at least redirecting attacks. This would obviously lead to fewer ukemis and fewer stains. The belt will then fade back to an off-white color, thus demonstrating some sort of cyclical development (white to black to white again).

That's what I heard anyway.
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:30 PM   #22
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Wehn I started training my sensei's belt was all frayed and worn out.When I asked him about it, he told me it was from washing it, and that every time he wears out a black belt he goes out and buys a new one.
Considering he got his shodan in 1970 or so, it is hard to believe any belt would last that long.

Q
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:19 PM   #23
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
actually in fairness it's a bit more than that. It's the underlying message that a grade is to be earned through hard work blood sweat and tears, rather than something to be conferred every three months as long as you're paying your fees.
A good way to put it.

I'd also suggest, though, that some people see this as an indictment of the grading system altogether. They see it as proof that it's just an artificial construct meant to represent - badly - the hard work that goes into attaining skill.

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
That might be the intended 'moral of the story' of people who propagate it, but I can't see how you can say that is there as a meaning in the story itself.
Oh, but see, any truth in a myth is the truth we read into it. By definition that would be the "moral of the story".

Or maybe to be more accurate, the myth represents some truth to us regardless of the truth of the myth.

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
The question was about what is true about us that is there within the story that gives it appeal, not what uses you could put the story to.
These are actually the same thing in this context.

My question may not have been 100% clear. It's not so much "what truth is there in the myth" as "what truth are people seeing in the myth that makes them want to hang on to it in the face of all evidence to the contrary". We've already established that the myth isn't true.

I think Michael Fooks nailed it, really. That's the message people get from this myth and that's the "truth" that makes it hard for them to let it go.

As a side note that I'm sure will just cause trouble: I sometimes visit a dojo where everyone wears a white belt until they get their shodan. People there wash their belts (at least one of the people that I talk to there does). I can't help noticing that even though the belts get washed they still get darker over time. Maybe you just can't wash out all that ki?

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Analagously, it's like saying that the myth of Sisyphus is about how you shouldn't wasting your time doing pointless things or you should come up with creative solutions to problems. Sure, you could draw that conclusion, but that's not really what the myth is about or why it has remained interesting to people for so long.
It does make you wonder, though, if the modern world actually gets it right when it comes to ancient myths. We know what we believe they're about...

...in fact, I believe we mostly do, but I'd bet there are one or two that those ancient people would be laughing pretty hard about our interpretation.

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Old 01-04-2007, 01:25 PM   #24
gregstec
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote:
For those that are on the fast track, I found a way to hasten the process. In addition to not washing the belt, don't wash yourself -- ever!!
So, that explains that smell....

Greg
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:31 PM   #25
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Re: "Brown Belt, Black" term origination...

Quote:
Greg Steckel wrote:
So, that explains that smell....

Greg

No, no, you're confusing my 'ki' with my 'gi' again . . . silly Steckel.
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