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shotochem
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 29 Dec 2001
Posts: 901
Location: New York
Styles: Shotokan, Kempo, BJJ, Baby-Do-Jitsu

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe a simpler explanation:

Those embroidered belts are quite pricey.

I still have trouble parting with my old ghi's. I'm just a cheapskate.
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Sauzin
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 04 Aug 2003
Posts: 593
Location: Boise, ID
Styles: Okinawan Kenpo, Goju-Ryu, Kobudo

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

smr wrote:
Sauzin wrote:
Actually any blackbelt worn for 10+ years of consistent training will tear up and start to look "raggedy". That's why they say a black belt becomes a white belt again at some point.


Not true. One of my instructors has had her belt for over a decade, and it is a little dull but it is definitely still black.


I didn't mean to infer that they become completely white. What I was trying to point out is that the "raggedy" look is where that adage came from. Of course it also points to the ideological return to the beginning that a master makes.

smr wrote:

Why don't you watch them work and listen to them speak before you give them your instant respect. A belt is just a belt. There are many ways to make a high-quality black belt fade premateurly.


First off I want to say that there is a certain level of respect that I give anyone upon first meeting them. From there I look for clues that key me into who they are. For example if I see them do a kata that impresses me, they gain more respect. If I talk with them and they show a lot of knowledge and experience, they gain more respect. If I see they have a black belt that has been worn down by years and years of practice (it would be very hard to duplicate both the uneven fade and worn tear of the matted fibers), again I would respect them more. It would be silly to only judge a person by the wear of their belt. Of course you should take other things into account. But a belt is often the first sign you see of a person's experience. I think it would be equally silly to ignore it.
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aefibird
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 26 Oct 2003
Posts: 4416
Location: UK
Styles: Past and present: 2 styles of Karate, TKD, Aikido, Wing Chun, some Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shotochem wrote:
Maybe a simpler explanation:

Those embroidered belts are quite pricey.

I still have trouble parting with my old ghi's. I'm just a cheapskate.


That's the best explanation I have heard so far!
Yeah, I'm a cheapskate too - I don't like parting with old gi either...
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Samurai Shotokan
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 166
Location: Springfield
Styles: Shotokan Karate, want to learn kendo or iado

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well my Shihans black belts is faded and and it looks a light blue and when he demosrates a kata it is insane the power he has. So he has my respect there........sorry for boasting about my instructor i am just proud to train under him
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Grenadier
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 213


PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It boils down to the individual's beliefs and practices.

Some folks want to hold onto their original belt, because they believe it symbolizes something. Over the many years of dedicated training, it will wear out, start "cracking," and fraying, and will lose a lot of its original solid black. This can happen regardless of whether someone wants to wash it or not.
There are some folks (of any age) that are given a satin black belt. These are much less durable, and will fall apart with regular use.

There are some younger folks, that are given such old belts from their instructors as gifts. It's quite an honor if your teacher is willing to part with one of them.

There are some folks (mostly kids, though) that will constantly wash their belts at all opportunities, just to get that weathered-in look. I regard such individuals with disdain, since they're trying to show that they are something they really are not (an experienced martial artist).



Now, onto the next part:

Is washing a belt a horrible thing? Again, that depends on the individual.

Some people believe that the belt has a fixed amount of energy in it, and that washing the belt washes out the energy. Even if it starts to fester and smell like a locker room containing a spilt over beer keg, they will refuse to wash it. IMHO, this is a rather limited belief, since the black belt is simply a strip of cloth. The real essence of Karate (or insert other martial arts here) is in the man wearing the belt, not in the uniform or belt itself.

Some people don't have a need to wash their belts, since they might not leave so much sweat on them, or maybe they take time to store them properly (hung in the air), so that anaerobic microbes can't flourish and generate bad-smelling compounds.

As I stated above, some people will wash their belts all-too frequently, either out of an abnormal fear of germs, or because they want to get that "weathered-in" look. I have already stated my disagreement with such methods.

Some people (like me) will wash their belts if it accumulates enough "stuff" to start smelling odd. I see no harm occasionally washing my belts (well-made Pine Tree and Tokaido belts) in a GENTLE cold cycle, using a small amount of detergent, and then hanging it to drip-dry. While they may be slightly faded compared to a brand new black belt, they still look great, and no evidence of accelerated wear and tear is seen. I've not had to wash them more than once a year.

If I have to get a new black belt to replace these, I'll do so without any hesitation. I know that the black belt part of me is, well, within me, and not something that I wear.

The way I see it, if a belt smells that badly, then you're creating a distraction to the others that are trying to train. You and your fellow karate-ka are there to learn, not to be distracted by the more physical things in the world, and by making sure you maintain at least a minimum level of cleanliness, you are helping them by not providing distractions.
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smr
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 105

Styles: Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sauzin wrote:
If I saw someone with a high quality black belt that was nearly white they would gain my instant respect.


I was responding to this quote. I just know that many people, like was said earlier, will cut their belt to cause it to fray. Others use sandpaper. I'm just saying that the uniform can be deceiving.

As far as sentimental attachments to your belt - Sure! Of course you're belts have sentimental value. You've earned them. Keep that first black belt forever. Even if it's faded, freyed, or torn in two. But don't be afraid to clean it when it stinks or to replace it if necessary (a good quality belt probably won't need to be replaced for a long, long time).
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pers
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 25 Dec 2004
Posts: 503
Location: England
Styles: shotokan

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never realy pay that much attention to belts ,I bought one in 1992 and it can still hold my gi together ! thats all they do ! belts don't fight and save you in the dojo and more importantly in the street.
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ShotokanKid
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 14 Nov 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Southern California
Styles: BJJ, Shotokan Karate, Judo, FMA/Inosanto Kali

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At my dojo, if you have a black belt that's worn, it's better than having a new looking black belt. They look worn because the retract hand creates friction that wears down the belt. It's the true test of whether or not your doing your retract hand correctly.
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Jussi Häkkinen
Purple Belt
Purple Belt

Joined: 28 Aug 2003
Posts: 507
Location: Turku, Finland
Styles: Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Seibukan Karate-Do

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ShotokanKid wrote:
At my dojo, if you have a black belt that's worn, it's better than having a new looking black belt. They look worn because the retract hand creates friction that wears down the belt. It's the true test of whether or not your doing your retract hand correctly.


Usually, most of the wear is in knot area and in the edges of the belt. Those are caused by tying and wearing the belt, as well as carrying it around in a training bag.

If your hikite is really low, well, it may wear off the belt as well. I'd still believe that even the persons who have some wear in hikite area have more wear in knot area.
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CheekyMusician
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 28 Dec 2002
Posts: 413
Location: Scotland
Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just thought I'd add my two cents...

My Sensei wears a faded belt, and I've certainly been asked by friends who have came along to a class with me why his belt is that colour. To be honest, I don't know how I personally feel about raggedy black belts. On one hand, they look messy and the uninitiated beginner might get confused about why his instructor is still a white belt! Heehee. On the other hand, I quite like the idea of the circle from white to black to white again. Also, people do tend to get sentimental about stuff like this and old belts do tend to tie easier and feel more comfortable on than new ones.

I don't know what I'll do if I ever reach the raggedy black belt stage...I'm a sentimentalist at heart so wouldn't want to stop wearing it, but then again, I'd feel really messy training with it, so I don't know.

As for the belt washing thing...I don't think that it's really an issue underneath shodan. After all, at some clubs you might only be wearing your coloured belt for a matter of weeks. My club only tests once every 6 months, but even in that time the belt doesn't get too pongy. I only found a problem with my white belt as I wore it at karate for 6 months, by which time it was fairly dirty, then I started an Aikido club and was wearing it again and it got even dirtier until I was forced to wash it.

If you're wearing a belt for an extended period of time and it starts to smell or whatever, then I don't see a problem with washing it. As others have said, it wont need washed all that often, but washing it once or twice a year shouldn't hurt. I think it is rather silly saying that the hard work will be washed out of it, even if you mean it in a symbolic sense. Fair enough, keep all that hard work "in" the belt up to a point, but once it starts to get unhygenic, then it's time to pop it in the wash!
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