One of the most discussed topics in the world is the belt. Why is it important, if it is important at all, why bother with the rank, why so many colors, why do we care about it? These are questions that have created controversy throughout the years in the martial arts world.  “I don’t care about the belt. I use it to tie my pants.”

Martial arts ranks are different, still they have one thing in common: they “mark” the ascension from beginner level to advance level. The modern life requires many compromises and one of them is considered by some, the “rainbow” made up by all the colors from white to black. In today’s world, we need to know how to set minor goals and know how long it will take to reach them to mark the achievement accordingly. We need the colors to see where we stand in the dojo, in our line between beginning and the new beginning (shodan rank).  We should understand that these ranks are relevant in our system. Sometimes you will hear “a brown belt is not better than a green belt in another system,” this is because in every school things are done in a certain way. Ranks are awarded according to a certain set of values.  When you receive a higher rank, its is because your instructor feels you are ready for new challenges. With a higher rank comes more discipline and dedication, accurate techniques, stances, and effort. It is an honor and an obligation.

Our system does not have the “rainbow” of colors, we don’t put stripes on every belt. Although we know the importance of progression, that is not the main focus; accuracy, ability, and consistency–being able to walk out of the dojo and KNOW what to do in a situation is the ultimate achievement.

How do you measure your progression? Rank or…?