What is a black belt ? Who invented it and what does it stand for ? When I first met my karate instructor Nick I was very impressed because he was wearing a white suit and a black belt, I had heard when I was very young that to be classed as very skilled and very good at a martial art you had to be a black belt, at school kids would say a black belt means you are as hard as nails and that no one will mess with you if you are a black belt.
My aim as soon as I began my karate studies was to get me a black belt, I trained with white belts, green belts, yellow belts, brown belts and purple belts. In the early days of my training I was fascinated and in awe when talking to the higher graded students and I couldn’t wait until junior students could come up to me and ask me how long did it take for you to get your belts and can you beat up anyone that you want. My belief was that if you had a black belt you would be invincible, I liked that idea, (but only towards the bullies).
After watching and training with the higher graded students I found myself doing what they were doing and my punches I thought looked as good as some of the green belts, brown belts, and even some of the black belts, this can’t be right surly me being a white belt means I should have no chance of getting anywhere near these higher graded students. It was only after a few months of training that I noticed the black belts were doing the same kicks as me and the same punches as me, my dream of being the next Bruce Lee were becoming broken this can’t be right.
The Meaning Of A Black Belt
What does having a black belt actually mean ? this is not good, my dreams are being destroyed by normal people wearing black belts. Since I was a child I thought that you had to be a ninja type person to get a black belt and to my horror there were children with them so what is it all about ?
The systematic use of belt colour to denote the rank was first used by Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo who first devised the coloured belt system using obi (sash), and awarded the first black belts to denote a Dan rank in the 1880s. Previously, Japanese Koryu instructors tended to provide certificates. Initially the wide obi was used; as practitioners trained in Kimono, only white and black obi were used. It was not until the early 1900s, after the introduction of the judogi, that an expanded coloured belt system of awarding rank was created. Other martial arts later adopted the custom or a variation of it (e.g., using colored sashes) to denote rank. This includes martial arts that traditionally did not have a formalized rank structure. This kind of ranking is less common in arts that do not claim a far eastern origin.
Black Belt Test
I think most people especially the young can quite easily be mislead or misinformed when it comes to what a black belt actually means there seams to be no definite standard as to what a black belt should mean or or what you should gain from having one.
In some systems students have to perform a series of movements that may or may not be to do with fighting or self defense, these moves are called kata and they are an imagined fight against an opponent, this is fine as long as you realize that doing kata or sets of prearranged movements alone will not make you invincible and to think so could put you great danger in a real life situation.
Black Belt Exam
In the video is an example of a grading, martial arts training offers much more than just learning how to defend yourself they offer self discipline focus fitness a place to meet people and a nice place to have a common interest(which is nice), so when you are looking to learn a martial art find out what you expect to get from it because it may not be what you are expecting, do your homework then you won’t waste your time chasing the unattainable. Keep in mind that what you are learning has come from someone else’s mind, all martial arts had a beginning so train with an open mind. Not all black belts are the same or mean the same thing.