Traditional Okinawan Karate was taught without changing belts throughout a practitioner’s training. Instead, a white belt was given to a student at the beginning of their training. As they would train, their belt would change color.
New karateka would begin training in grassy areas to dampen their blows when hitting the ground. Over time, this would stain their belt a greenish hue.
The training would transition to harder surfaces, such as packed earth, as their skills advanced. The belt would turn brown over time. After many years of practice, this belt would eventually become so dark it was practically black.
When Karate became popular in the United States and training became more structured into ranks, this historical concept of gauging a student’s progress visually was transferred to the belt system we have today. There are belt specific protocols connected to this history, such as never washing your obi.
|Shodan (1 Dan)||Sempai|
|Nidan (2 Dan)||Sempai|
|Sandan (3 Dan)||Sempai|
|Yondan (4 Dan)||Sensei|
|Godan (5 Dan)||Renshi|
|Rokudan (6 Dan)||Renshi|