White, orange, blue, yellow, green, brown, and black are the different colors of martial arts belts. They indicate student’s skills, development, and experience in Martial Arts. However, people also believe that colored belts indicate rank or ability of an individual in martial arts.
The modern look of martial art uniform includes comfortable baggy pants and belted smock. This uniform was first introduced by the Kanō Jigorō, the founder of Judo. Kanō Jigorō first took up Jujutsu in efforts to be more strong. When he started to pursue martial art, he weighed just 90 pounds and was only 5’2 feet tall.
Kanō Jigorō was a polymath and well-regarded martial arts teacher in Japan, Jigorō invented Judo in the late 1800s.
After founding Judo in the early 1880s, Jigorō started awarding some of students Shodan rank, which meant beginning degree, which is the lowest black belt rank, the first two students who got this black belt were Saigō Shirō and Tomita Tsunejirō.
The belt rank system
The martial arts ranking system was taken from the Dan ranking system. Before this, more experienced students in martial arts in Japan were given scrolls, which indicated their abilities.
During the Judo’s early days, the students never wore the grab we today associate with many forms of martial arts. Rather, Judo was first practiced wearing a full-length robe known as Kimono, secured with a belt known as Obi.
In the year 1907, Jigorō introduced the current modern uniform known as Judogi and its thinner Obi. But colors were limited to white for less experienced students known as Mudansha, and black was for more experienced one known as Yudansha. The Judogi’s white uniform denoted purity and simplicity, and the white belt of the neophyte showed that the students started empty, but were now filled with knowledge.
With passing time,there was a need to appreciate even bigger wins and skills. By 1930, Jigorō incorporated Black belts with Red and White panels, where red denoted the sacrifices made and desire to learn. Today, these belts are known as 8th, 7th, and 6th-degree black belts.
Another judo master teaching in Paris, Mikonosuke Kawaishi, is credited for using different colors in the uniform around 1935. It was a way to motivate students to achieve better. After the success of the belt rank system in Martial arts, Taekwondo and karate masters also adopted the belt system.
The belt rank was basically incorporated in martial arts to motivate students to do better. The black and white belts were introduced in 1907 by the inventor of martial arts Kanō Jigorō, and all the other colored belts were introduced in 1930 by Mikonosuke Kawaishi.