The entry below is an excerpt from the book-
The Budo Karate of Mas Oyama, written and illustrated by CAMERON QUINN.
We thank the author for his insightful words and reference that we can use.
Pictures & descriptions with thanks to students of Shihan Patrick’s Teo President of World Karate Organization (WKO) Shinkyokushinkai Singapore.
Upon entering a dojo (training ground) for the first time, you would notice that students are denoted by the different belt colors they wear. The belt colors not only symbolize seniority, but also serves as inspiration and guidance for each student of Kyokushin Karate at different levels; both in techniques as well as the attitude in daily life.
In the journey of grading, the belt color changes from that of junior’s to senior’s.
Here’s a brief outlook at the special symbolism behind each belt color:
Level of purity and potential
Being new, unaware of the requirements of Kyokushin Karate and lacking in experience of it, the white belt’s heart is said to be full of hope. From this hope sprouts the first enthusiasm to train and learn.
Apart from black belt, white belt is most important of all in the life of a karate student.
There will be new techniques to be acquired, new rules and requirements of the dojo, and new demands on the body and mind. With perseverance and dedication through this stage, your whole life can be changed forever. The distance you can go is up to you and only you.
There should be sheer determination to never give up, and have no rush. Work steadily on your fitness.
A female white belt practicing
An unspoken rule of the dojo is that one is only recognized for one’s willingness to make the effort.
There is no shame in being a white belt. Wear it with pride.Remember, even your instructor was a white belt once.
Level of stability
Progressing from white belt comes the orange belt. The first color after purity level which is associated to earth (soil) color. The major focus at this level is understanding the physical base.
Power and progress are built upon a solid foundation. Fundamentals such as your stances (eg. sanchin dachi) are very much reinforced and expected to be perfected.
At this stage, a lifestyle and vision of ambition, gratitude, persistence and vitality should be adopted. Every student must establish a commitment to attending classes. There can be an internal battle for each individual in overcoming self-defeating stubbornness that resists the desire to attend lessons.It is your battle to win.
Orange belts should be enthusiastic in training, treasures dreams of greater things to come.
Level of fluidity, adaptability
Blue, the symbolism for color of water.
Blue belt at this level develops a basic ability to adapt and react fluidity. Just as water adapts to the shape of whichever object is holding it. Adaptability grows through kumite (sparring).
Independence begins to establish itself, the student learns to adapt karate to best suit his physical strengths and weaknesses. Development for a strong body, especially in the torso and arms takes place. Special attention is paid to training push-ups using the forefists and finger tips.
In terms of flexibility (physical and mental), students at this level should do relatively well in stretching (which can be achieved through regular stretching).
Enthusiasm wanes sometimes to the point of despair, with desire to give up. Remember these are part and parcel of training; being able to recognize stumbling blocks in your journey of learning and appropriately dealing with them successfully is essential.
Stay calm in the midst of a raging battle (be it during kumite or your internal battle), the spirit and mind of a true Kyokushin Karate student shall remain unshaken.
Level of assertion
Apart from concentrating purely on physical skills (such as balance, stability, eye/hand co-ordination, and general technical ability) as compared to previous belts, Yellow belt also requires serious consideration to the psychological aspects of training- perception, awareness, assertion, and other manifestation of will-power. Students are expected to apply his/her intellect and awareness in co-coordinating the basic physical concepts of karate with his/her own mind’s immense potential.
Be confident in your growing abilities and be decisive in your every actions. Do your best to refine your karate knowledge and learn to perform all the movements in a pure and correct way.
Fears are overcome by confronting them confidently.
Never be tempted to rush through the grades. Every individual should realize that the most difficult enemies to overcome are selfishness and egotism. Any goals you set to train towards are standards of comparison within yourself, not with others. Learn to train humbly, but with indefatigable determination.
Green is first level of the senior colors.
The green belt is now more aware of his unique discriminating intelligence and the importance of benevolence and compassion. He would realize that power without wisdom and compassion is destructive, dangerous and callous. Just as Sosai states: strength without justice is violence; justice without strength is impotence.
The green belt would, by now have excellence in all his basic techniques, basic movement patterns, and be able to deliver all required kata. He learns to combine his technique with speed and strength that has been developed through hard training.
At this level, all green belts should work on the power aspect of karate. Kyokushin is power karate. The green belt should be able to demonstrate this power.
Sensitivity and timing- one must learn to feel the opponent’s intentions and balance, and how to time the use of techniques for maximum effect. You should also look into advanced technical concepts and methods; finds personal likes which you will begin to adopt into your own karate.
Remember, actions are reflexes, not premeditated moves. A technique happens naturally, without thought.
The green belt should have glimpses of the state of mind known as zanshin, where the body acts perfectly without conscious effort.
Every green belt should strive to develop a mature and fearless attitude in kumite, while mastering a deceptively calm and unassuming approach to self defense and daily life.
Practical / creative level
This is a very important level in training, which should be undertaken in serious, responsible and mature frame of mind.
By now, the brown belt should be very strong and very comfortable in the execution of all techniques, whilst continuing to strive to achieve ever higher levels of skill.In sparring, the ability to control a junior opponent through timing, distance control and sensitivity, should be highly developed.
Junior students tend to feel that they can trust the brown belt and the brown belt should respect that trust through honesty, integrity, and loyalty.
You must constantly take a step back and look at yourself, make sure you are in control of the personality and the contents and prejudices of the mind; & not vice versa.
Every brown belt must brace himself with a brave heart and a will of iron, have faith in the beauty of the unknown that lies ahead.
Improvements in own technique are gained through participation in tournaments. Through that, one can then truly see if one’s training has been effective.
All too often, the brown belt becomes complacent at brown belt, satisfied with being at the top of the junior grades.
Be aware of this and learn to overcome through continuous hard training and moving on to the next belt level.
Do not stop your Kyokushin Karate training path here.
“Bathed in sweat, devoted entirely to what what I am doing, in training sessions I transcend both life and death.”Words by Mas Oyama.