There are some people who see their skill as the color on their belt. Which is both true and false. The belt progression is to show progress of the individual along the path of the style based on knowledge. Some instructors have a high standard, while others seem to just move students through the system. Students are often held back because the student wants to move faster than they should. I believe high standards should be met. The quality of the skill the belt holder has is far more important than the color of belt they are wearing. If they quality of skill with all the right knowledge to test to move on, then by all means, let’s do the test. However, students often fall short due to their ideas that they are entitled to the next belt without doing all the work necessary.

Belt progression is not just a color.

The color of the belt shows where one is on their martial arts path. The basic understanding is that all of us have our own strengths and weaknesses. One person might be better at kicking, while another is better at hand motions or forms. Rushing through and trying to get a black belt in record time won’t give skill, it gives you a belt. Practice, patience, and training is the essence of martial arts, and this is  reflected in the belt system. If you look at a yellow belt and compare them to a brown belt, you would say there is a stark contrast between the two. The brown belt has trained and failed much more than the yellow belt. It’s understandable that a lower belt wants to be a higher belt. However, students need to keep in mind that it is not something you can accomplish quickly.

The color of the belt is significant to the general skills required for that belt.

As the practitioner develops more skill and a greater understanding of the general or foundational skills then the color of their belt will change accordingly. Belts aren’t there to hold students back, they are there to be milestones. It is a marker on the martial arts path. The color itself denotes a student’s progress on the knowledge of the specific style’s general skills. Its common that students favor certain strikes or kicks or forms. However, it is imperative that they know everything required and the skill to utilize the knowledge appropriately for their next rank. All the while improving on the skills that came before.

Think of belt ranks as a roadmap to self-improvement.

As you learn the art, you are also improving yourself. Most people take for granted what they have already accomplished, just moving through goals and not reflecting on the path that got you there. The structure of the belt progression allows a student to see their own progress on the path. If you consider the stops on this journey to be testing, then this is a great time for reflection and introspection on what the student already knows. Often times, this doesn’t occur. It is good to move onto the next goal; but you must also reflect on what you have learned. Belt progression allows for stages of learning instead of something far more overwhelming. If you can imagine having an entire 10-year curriculum given to you and just saying ‘here, do this’.

You can also view belt progression as progress of the individual.

Since all of us are unique moving up the ladder gives us a sense of accomplishment and if we reflect, we can see how far we have progressed from when we began this journey. Insight often gives us a greater understanding on the markers on our martial arts path. Giving us time to refine and gain more knowledge about what we have already gained from our training. What we are doing wrong what we could do better and how we can become better individuals. Even on how we can take some of the lessons we learn in martial arts and employ them in our daily lives. Conscious effort and conscious thought help us make greater gains than just wandering around in the dark without a path.

Martial arts belt progression reflects on both physical and life skills.

This insight gives us perspective on our motivations and our progress to becoming the person and martial artist we want to be. We as instructors want you to gain as much skill as you can with the short time allotted to training. Knowing why you joined martial arts allows us to watch your progress down the martial arts path and the path to a better you. Higher belt ranks denote achievement and with this comes higher expectations. From their skill to the knowledge gained, everything should be refining and becoming better. Belt progression can be a fickle thing. With Mcdojos saying they can get you there in x amount of time. Usually 3 years or less. It’s hard for students to gain the full benefits of martial arts when all they want is to move up a rank.