A Belt is an Invitation

By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Every belt we award a student is an invitation.  Generally, with each rank, we ask you to work on making yourself a better person.  That can be done in many different ways.  Specifically, I have broken down each belt to what I think the invitation means.

-WHITE:  Welcome, let’s get to know each other better in classes.

-YELLOW-STRIPE:  You can go far.  You have proved your potential.

-YELLOW:  We’re entrusting you with the responsibility of setting a good example for your lower ranks.  (This responsibility continues and becomes greater the higher your rank goes.)

-ORANGE:  We invite you to finish learning the beginner techniques, and challenge you to strengthen up your stances and techniques.

-GREEN:  You are now an intermediate student.  Now the more dynamic stuff begins!

-BLUE:  We trust you to practice more partner work, to do so carefully and seriously, and to remember more katas and complexes.

-PURPLE:  It’s time to ramp up your training.  We’re preparing you for the brown belts with (in most cases) more time before your next test.

-3rd KYU:  You are now an advanced student.  We are inviting you to become a black belt one day.  This is the time to seriously consider if you want karate with us to be a permanent part of your lifestyle.

-2nd KYU:  Your second invitation to become a black belt.  You have the most people watching you now.  It’s time to finish your community service project and be a dojo representative in the community.

-1st KYU:  Your third invitation to become a black belt.  You won’t have the constant feedback of belt stripes, or curriculum requirements, but we expect you to trust your instructors’ wisdom and train hard.

-1st BLACK:  You are accepting the responsibilities of: being a permanent part of the dojo; setting a good example; giving back by teaching and supporting the dojo; and keeping the karate tradition going.

-2nd BLACK:  We want you to be a part of the core dojo leadership (especially adult Nidan), and we trust you with greater responsibility.

-3rd BLACK:  You have persevered through the black belt ranks, and are ready to shoulder the responsibility of supporting the dojo at a higher level.

-HIGHER BLACK (Junior): With each promotion, you gain more respect and recognition in the Alliance, and become a more skilled practitioner.  Now is the time to work into a more consistent teaching role.

-HIGHER BLACK (Adult): Your training and promotion have a lot more to do with teaching, bringing others up in karate and promoting the tradition.  The quest for knowledge is endless!

-BLACK BELT CLUB (any rank, usually blue and up): You have shown loyalty, perseverance, respect, and good spirit.  We want you to be a dojo representative.

With rank comes responsibility.  When you accept a belt, you accept responsibility.  In the living martial arts, we repeatedly invite you to work more, to train more, to give back more.  (The magic is that you help others and you benefit the world as you do so, but you benefit more than anyone in this process.)  It is up to you to continually accept our invitation.

(Note: Little Dragons have 2 additional belts between each rank.)

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