Your Obi

Your “obi” or your belt is something to take pride in. I found this article from a Shurin – Ryu website.

The Obi
1999 dojo newsletter

Anyone who has been to a martial arts camp, tournament or seminar has noticed an old, faded black belt wrapped around a practitioner’s waist. For some karateka, the belt has truly trained with its owner after years and years of hard work and sweat.

Unfortunately there are more of those who have have washed them in the laundry and picked or scratched at their obi until it has received the look of a supposed expert’s.

The obi is only a visual marker of where you are in your stages through the curriculum and not an indicator of ability. In truth, what is soaked into the fabric of your obi is the symbol of your training, not it’s outside appearance. Belts are NEVER to be washed!!! By doing so, you cleanse away, forever, the remnants and memories of your training that cannot be replaced or repeated. On Okinawa, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Chibana, who assisted in the seminars and acted Hanshi Shugoro Nakazato’s interpreter during the 1999 World Tournament. He had taken so much pride in his obi that when it had frayed, he sewed black patching on the sides to repair the condition of his belt. He had likewise done the same with the tattered collar of his gi.

The colors of ALL obi change their appearance through hours and hours of HARD workouts and sweat, it cannot be avoided. However, your first black belt is the only one that you will be awarded by your sensei, therefore you should take extreme care of it. The natural, wear and tear fading of the belt is the symbol of the karateka returning to the beginning, to start the learning process over again. In our practice and research, we all need to be more concerned about proficiency beyond the minimum requirements and the satisfaction of personal growth without physical markers.

Your obi is something you should wear with pride and honor because it means more than just where you are in your art. It is more than just a status symbol. Your obi should have a deep personal meaning to you. Obis should never be simply given away. They mean more than just the deeds you have done and your adeptness in your forms. An obi is not a prize to be won or a reward for anything.

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