The first of many

It is where we all started.

When you are accepted into a dojo for the first time, one of the things that will be asked of you, is that you always dress in the appropriate manner for all of your classes. While there are a wide variety of styles within the world of martial arts, in a traditional Shotokan Karate dojo all of the students and instructors wear a white gi. The gi will then be tied at the waist with a coloured belt, or "obi", which will always be in keeping with your present rank, and your place within the dojo society.

Below you will find a diagram that illustrates how this should be done. Start in the upper left-hand corner and read down that column first, then go to the upper right-hand corner and read down that column. Your belt should now be neatly tied around your waist. If in any doubt about the way it looks be sure and ask one of the other students for confirmation. Once you have learnt to tie your belt properly the manner in which you do so will not change even with any future change in rank. One way truly fits all in this case.

All beginners start with a white belt. Over time as you progress upward in rank your belt will change colour. While the order of the colours may vary from dojo to dojo, in our dojo the junior ranks go, yellow, orange, red, green, violet, blue, and then brown, of with there are three different levels. Numerically the junior ranks are counted downward from white belt, or 10th kyu, through the various colours to the last level of the three brown belt, which is 1st kyu. 

After 1st kyu come the Dan, or black belt ranks, starting with the first level, Shodan. Once you reach the Dan ranks you will find that numerically the count reverses. Black belts start counting upward, from one to ten, with 10th Dan being the highest level obtainable within the traditional Shotokan Karate-Do system.

So, put on your gi, tie your belt and enter a dojo. Then pay attention in class, follow the instructions, practice with intent, be observant, and always train with a positive attitude. If you do, then before you know it you too may soon find yourself grading for a new rank and the new coloured belt that comes with it.

Remember: "Your belt is a visual symbol of your past effort and dedication, so always wear it with pride".