Sunday, December 20, 2015


Belts are a big deal in the martial arts. There's always a conversation somewhere about what a black belt is or what it means. In most discussions about martial arts you can often find the comment "they're not a real black belt," or "our black belts have to earn it." Even in dojo where the phrase, "a belt is for keeping your gi closed," there's some sort of belt system. There's numerous arguments for why a belt system is needed, and most of them have to do with making it easier on instructors, who don't spend enough time with their students and dangling a carrot in front of students, so they work "harder."

It seems rather disingenuous to talk about how the belts don't matter and then have a belt system. Students should really work hard, because they want to work hard and learn. If they work hard, they get to learn new stuff and if they don't work hard than they don't learn new stuff. Simple really.

As far as making it easier on instructors, this is ridiculous. Instructors should know their students. They should know what they're capable of and a simple question like "who knows (blank) kata?" is simple enough to do to separate people into different groups. The question is usually asked anyway.

In my opinion, belts devalue skill, place emphasis on rank and make people cling to organizations and associations, so they can keep their precious black cloth. 

The only reasonable argument for belts is for sporting classification. For this you really only need white, brown and black. Novice, intermediate and advanced.