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The color of karate belts signify the student's level of expertise in martial arts. The color of the belts gets progressively darker as the student gains karate skills -- mental and physical ones -- until the student earns a black belt. Karate is as much about mental discipline as physical prowess, so there is more than proper form to consider when moving up to the next belt color.
When students begin studying karate, they wear a white belt to signify their beginner status. White belt students learn the basic karate skills, most of which are designed to enforce mental discipline. When they move on to a yellow belt, they must master the 10 beginner self-defense techniques before moving on to an orange belt. After students earn an orange belt, they begin to focus more on physical conditioning and perfecting a few offensive moves.
Green belt students learn more in-depth karate techniques and skills before moving on to blue belts. This level requires the student to master nearly 200 karate techniques. Once this is achieved, the student can earn his brown belt, which is often broken up into stages. The student starts as a third-degree brown belt and works up to first-degree brown belt before advancing to the next belt color. As a brown belt, a student is expected to know all the basic techniques of karate and to have strong mental discipline and control.
The black belt is the most advanced belt in karate. However, it doesn't mean the student is a master of the art. Instead, earning a black belt signifies the student is ready for more advanced training. There are several degrees of black belt. These degrees are also denoted by a "dan" level. For example, when you first achieve a black belt, you are considered a shodan.
Other Belt Colors
Belt colors vary between karate schools, although the basic achievement colors of white, brown and black usually stay the same. Some add different belt colors, such as red or purple, in between the traditional colors. Others include stripes or tips on the belts. For example, a white belt with a yellow tip means a student has completed part of the yellow belt training. The stripes on a brown belt often denote the degree of the belt.