Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Belt colours in aikido

I was reading a few of fora and web pages about grading systems in aikido and it seems aikido organisations and individual dojos are very creative when it comes to the colour scheme of their belts.

Firstly I'd like to say that our organisation (and hence, our dojo) has a very simple a rule about the colour of our belts: it's either white or black. White (6th kyu to 1st kyu) until you become yudansha and from then on black (1st dan, 2nd dan, etc.). This is the same for the traditional/classical/original aikido - aikikai - which is lead by the doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba (Ueshiba is his surname in Japan).

As far as I know, the other colours (yellow, blue, etc.) have been invented for westerners as this would fit into our culture better. In my opinion, having these colours is against the spirit of martial arts as it focuses on some goals at different levels and not on actually doing aikido, practicing. It shouldn't be the end of the road that matters but the way you get there. You should enjoy doing aikido and should not pursue the 'next belt'. This is not a competition.

Our black-and-white system can be a bit frustrating when you go to seminars where a 5th kyu plucks up the courage to instruct you on how to do a technique and you are, for example, a 3rd kyu. However, as someone gets closer to his/her dan level it becomes obvious that until you actually get there you are basically a beginner, really just tasting what aikido is. And it is said that real learning starts when you become a black belt aikidoka.

To see the colours of other aikido dojos and organisations, I created a figure (from top to bottom: from many kyu to dan levels) and then went artistic with it. Try to use the polar co-ordinates photoshop filter on the first figure yourself to get these pictures.


Scott Zrubek said...

One reason we have multiple belt colors (white, green, brown, brown, brown, black) is in a concern for safety. Some of the techniques learned by the brown belts require the uke to get some air time to take the fall properly. With the colored belts, we know which students, at a glance, are able to uke for given techniques.

Zolley said...

Thanks Scott, you have a point there. I'm planning to post something about safety soon, I hope you will share your thoughts about that as well.

Charlie san said...

Scott u r right, but I think its supposed to be pretty obvious in a club, that who is in what level...unless u r 100 guys over there and u r not going out together after every class :oP