Karate Belts: The Story Behind the Different Colours
When you’re training karate for a couple of months, there’s only one thing on your mind: “When will I get my black belt?” You probably know someone with a black belt and think you will never get that good as to earn one yourself. The truth is, there’s a whole rainbow of colours before you get to black, all of which symbolize your growth. In fact, the colours of karate belts are not there to intimidate you, but to let you know how far you’ve progressed as an individual – both inside and outside of the technique.
So, what’s the story behind all the different colours of karate belts, anyway? To help you better understand what each colour symbolizes, picture the life cycle of a plant. Just like mastering karate, the plant also goes through different stages of change – from birth to development and maturing. Here’s a quick explanation of what each colour represents.
When a seed is planted, it breaks through the ground and is met by bright and white sunlight. Similarly, beginners wear a white belt that symbolizes birth, the beginning of a cycle. Another metaphor for the white belt is a seed lying beneath the snow in winter, waiting for spring to unleash its powers.
Yellow signifies the consistent beam of sunlight that warms the seed and strengthens it for further growth. With that being said, the yellow belt represents the student’s eagerness and ability to receive their sensei’s teachings with an open mind.
After spring, comes summer when the sun’s rays intensify from a soft yellow glow to a bright orange one. Just like orange represents the strength of the sun, an orange belt is given to a student that has mastered the 10 basic self-defence moves in karate, and is now stronger and more prepared to meet a variety of challenges.
Because the plant received plenty of sunshine and grew stronger, it starts to get greener and develop new leaves and sprouts. And so the green belt means that the student has reached a notable growth and mastered the initial training, with his strength and skill increasing with each passing day.
Like a plant, the student is standing tall, growing and reaching for the blue sky. Thus, a blue belt is awarded and the student reaches yet another level. A blue belt also signifies that the student’s mind has also grown to receive the philosophical teachings of karate.
Purple signifies the colour of the dawn – an intermittent stage between night and day. With that being said, a purple belt means that the student is transitioning into the more advanced stages of the technique.
Brown represents the plant experiencing ripening and being ready for harvest. Just like a plant that’s ready to be cultivated, a student is ready to begin to reap the benefits of his skills and hard work to get to the final stage.
The end is here, the plant begins to turn black and die. But as it returns to the soil it becomes food for new plants to grow, and thus a new cycle will begin. So, once a student has received a black belt, he can begin to teach others and plant seeds in them that will help them grow and mature. His students will also grow and form roots of their own and eventually blossom through the ranks in this never-ending cycle of growth and enlightenment.