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You Give Too Many Belts

Posted by on in Ranks and Exams
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karate beltYour beginners start off with white belts, gradually working their way through yellow, gold, orange, red, green, blue, purple, brown, and black. In between each of those belts, they get little stripes of colorful electrical tape around their belts to indicate half steps in between their belts. What do you have? Twenty ranks between novice and black belt? Why?


There are not twenty discernible levels of skill in karate. I submit to you that there are probably only four or five. You are giving out ranks to reward attendance, memorization, and good conduct. You are encouraging the payment of fees for tests, belts, and for continuing lessons, but your ranks you give out do not have any real meaning. No one could look at your yellow belts and purple belts and see with their eyes which was the higher rank without you telling them first.

I recommend you only give out a few ranks far less frequently. Have a little more faith in the human ability to excel and achieve. Give out a white belt, a green belt, a brown belt, and a black belt. You have pretty much all of the skill levels covered right there. Your white belts are novices and are clueless. Your green belts have completed basic training and are able to perform techniques and can learn any kata by following along. Your brown belts are able to perform the techniques with some speed, strength, and most importantly – control and accuracy. Your black belts are experts who can do whatever they want and have some particular ability in some area of karate.

Anything you reward beyond that has nothing to do with skill. And besides, grown men look ridiculous in yellow belts.