Since the completion of this year’s 30th Anniversary International Karate Kobudo Union (IKKU) Summer Camp, I have reflected on many things – karate. One of those things is about what our rank means and specifically, the belt associated with it.
According to Wikipedia, many Japanese martial arts feature an obi as simply put, a part of their exercise outfit. The black belt is opposite of the white belt, signifying completion and maturity in the student, and denoting a degree of competence. (I personally don’t believe any color belt signifies “completion” and that you are always, a student of the art.)
There are others who believe that a karate-ka (student) should strive to become a “black belt.” (A true martial artist does not or should not strive to become a black belt, but strive for the perfection of character and foster the spirit of effort – through the art.)
Our IKKU founder, Soke Joseph Ruiz teaches us this:
White belt: the color of a new beginning
Purple belt: the color of mild confusion
Blue belt: the color of a new and open mind (blue sky)
Green belt: the color of fresh growing things
Brown belt: the color of earth (solid and unyielding)
Black belt: the color of void (empty of all pretensions)
It is the purpose of the colored belts to indicate not the length of time in the art, but to represent the level of training and the student’s proficiency in the art. In earlier times, the intensity of one’s training was represented by the wear on the white belt, darkening with time and increased intensity of the student’s training. Soke Ruiz believes that when you acquire your black belt, you have mastered all your basics and now, your journey begins.
Which brings us to the smallest of (IKKU) belts, with a very large meaning – a pink one, with the words, “IKKU Kickin’ Cancer.” The belt was designed to show support of so many in our organization who have lost loved ones to, suffered from, or fight the battle of cancer. To all of you, who wear this belt, we thank you – and to all of you who are impacted by this disease, we hope that our spirit strengthens yours. Osu!
Renshi Sensei Nadine