In many karate schools, it is traditional to give gifts to students who have recently earned their black belt. Something karate-related is most appropriate. The sensei's gift will be the new black belt. The tradition of the sensei's handing the belt to the student, or tying the belt around the student's waist, is an important part of the right of passage to black belt. Family or fellow students may wish to give new gear, traditional weapons, a book or memento of the promotion.
Black belt students often wear a better quality gi, or uniform, than the beginning students. A good quality, heavy-weight gi, especially one like the gi his sensei wears, would make a good present. Tokaido, Shureido, Toyo and Juka all make good quality, heavyweight gi. Some schools require black belts to wear a different color gi from that of colored-belt students. Make sure to check with the sensei before ordering a new gi to be sure it fits within school guidelines.
Mementos of the black-belt test or ceremony make a good gift. One possible memento is a DVD of the test and ceremony. Check with the sensei well in advance to make sure recording is allowed. A nicely framed picture or collage of pictures of the black-belt ceremony is also a good gift.
New sparring gear makes a good present as well. Leather gear is typically more comfortable than entry-level synthetic gear. A pair of leather sparring gloves, or leather bag gloves, would be an appropriate step up in quality for a new black belt used to sparring in vinyl.
Some schools reserve training in certain traditional weapons for black belts only. Kama, for example, are considered to be advanced weapons in many schools. Check with the sensei to see if the student's school will be introducing him to a new weapon. Custom weapons also make good black-belt presents. If the new black belt has been working with off-the-rack bo, tonfa, sai or nunchaku, custom-made weapons would be a welcome gift.
Books are a traditional gift. Martial arts books containing legends of past masters are a possibility. Also appropriate are books containing supplementary skills: stretching, resistance training, herb use or self-defense skills. A copy of the Bubishi, sometimes known as the Bible of Karate, is a possibility. The Bubishi contains advanced knowledge that few students can thoroughly process before black belt. Giving it to a new black belt is an acknowledgment of advanced skills.
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