Martial Arts Belt Colors


The colors of order received of belts varies in different martial arts. Black belts are universally recognized as the sign of excellence, but not everyone who is a martial arts expert needs to have one. Bruce Lee was fond of saying that he wore no belt whatsoever except the one that kept his pants up. Still, most who study martial arts will earn belts, and there is a fairly consistent group of colored belts handed out in more or less the same order.

White Belt

  • Almost all martial arts students anywhere start out as white belts. White symbolizes purity and innocence of all martial arts knowledge. The white belt is like an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Just as white belts must show respect to their senior belts, white belts must also be handled carefully and encouraged, never discouraged.

Yellow Belt

  • Students attain a yellow belt generally after they have gotten a decent overall grasp of the basics of any martial art. Yellow tends to signify the first rays of sunlight as it shines upon the seeds of learning that have been planted in the student. The yellow also signifies the student receiving the first ray of knowledge that is illuminating his world through martial arts training.

Green Belt

  • A green belt follows yellow and signifies the roots of knowledge having taken to the earth and sprouted upward into their first growth. The student should now have a solid basic foundation of martial arts skills and be ready to begin building on them.

Blue Belt

  • The blue in a blue belt symbolizes the sky. Blue belts have continued in their growth from green belts, and as martial artists they are growing upwards toward the blue sky. Additional knowledge of the martial arts enters these students like the clear, blue air of the sky as their knowledge and skills develop.

Red Belt

  • The red in red belt signifies danger and the heat from the sun. Danger because they student is now in possession of a formidable arsenal of martial arts skills but not yet in complete control of these skills or his own temperament. The red symbolizes the sun in that the student has continued to grow skywards in his development and is headed toward the light of the sun.

Black Belt

  • The black in a black belt signifies the darkness that lies beyond the sun. As a black belt, a student can become a master. As masters seek to explore the infinite world of the martial arts they can now teach others, planting seeds and continuing the cycle of self-growth, knowledge and the pursuit of enlightenment.

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  • Photo Credit Yin Yang box image by Pete Linforth from
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