Considering the current appeal of mixed martial arts in the United States, many people have a renewed interest in the martial arts. Children are taking an interest in traditional karate classes in record numbers. Karate itself strives to teach discipline and has different degrees of mastery.
What Is Karate?
Karate is part art, part dance and part meditation techniques with a focus on primarily self-defence combat tactics. Concentrated blows from blunt body parts are used to thwart opponents. The striking techniques emphasise mainly the hands, knees, legs, and feet combining with the force of gravity to quickly subdue an opponent so an individual can escape an attack. In training, karate differs from many forms of martial arts because the levels of mastery are not based primarily on fighting competitions or championship titles, though tournaments are held. The degrees of accomplishment are represented through belts worn around the traditional fighting garment, the gi.
The Order of the Belts
Each level and colour of belt pertains to a degree of mastery in various elements of karate. While the exact specifications for attaining each level vary from dojo (gym or training centre) to dojo, their general meanings stay the same.
The White Belt
The white belt is what all karate newcomers start with. The colour white represents purity as each student enters the dojo clean of karate accomplishments. The only requirement to attain this level is simply entering the dojo and declaring a commitment to be open to learning the skill.
The Yellow Belt
The yellow belt represents the sun. The pupil has participated in meditation techniques and is beginning to learn how to awaken his mind and focus his energy toward a goal. The exact requirements for earning a yellow belt will vary by dojo, but the basic standards are those of class attendance. At least 12 classes must have been attended. For an adult and child a combination of at least ten manoeuvres must be completed consisting of blocks and kicks. Also a preliminary defensive stance and style must be learnt by children and a more advance defensive stance and style must be completed by an adult to attain this level.
The Blue Belt
The blue colour represents the sky. The student begins to attempt more advanced manoeuvres, and might even enter some competitions at this point because the sky is limitless with possibilities. To get this belt ,at least 72 classes must have been attended and participants must complete a combination of 28 strikes, kicks, and blocks for adults. Children must now demonstrate the same defensive stance and style that was previously attained by the adults and complete a combination of 18 blocks, kicks and strikes.
The Green Belt and Red Belt
The green belt signifies growth. The sun has warmed and enlightened the pupil , and now a new green growth has developed. Training now becomes more advanced. Some general moves such as punches and kicks are developed further. All parties now must have completed at least 112 classes and an adult must perform a combination of 75 blocks, kicks and strikes. An adult now must have a total of four different defensive stances and styles and display a proficiency in those. For children a combination of 55 blocks, kicks and strikes must be completed and they also must demonstrate a proficiency in four less complicated defensive styles and stances.
The red belt illustrates heat, fire or passion. At this point in the regimen, caution is encouraged as pupils are extremely advanced now. While passion has been encouraged to this point, this heat must also be tempered with patience. At least 265 classes must be attended at this point. Adults must complete an essay showing their enlightenment to this point and pledge further devotion to the martial arts. Adults will demonstrate sparring ability with black belts and display their skills in self-defence against a live, armed attacker and also an unarmed attacker. Children must complete an essay and spar with other children who have black belts. To get this belt children must display a working knowledge of the basic self-defence techniques.
The Black Belt
The black represents darkness; however, it is not the dark of despair or night, but the darkness of the vast universe. The student has achieved the highest ranking of karate and now much search the darkness to teach others this discipline. A black belt requires a minimum of 300 classes attended. On average it will take a student over three years to attend the classes and gain all knowledge needed to get to this point. An adult must display near flawless proficiency in sparring, endurance, knowledge (through a written test), self-defence, courage, strength and commitment. Children must also complete the same requirements as adults, only to a lesser extent, with the exception of commitment.