There is a common argument in Karate and in fact, in all martial arts as to what belt is seen as the most important. Many would claim that obviously the answer is black. Black belt shows mastery in the aspects of the art and show dedication to life long study. A refinement of skills learned through years of practice. I find this to be a very valid point but it is not the most important belt
Various colours between white and black are also seen as the most important. It is through yellow, orange, green, blue and others that we build a foundation of skills, knowledge and experience in Karate. We start to develop and refine the very basics of the art. Our fighting spirit emerges from deep within us. We mature in the art and learn not only to become Karate-ka, but better people. I find this to also be a very valid point, but none of these are the most important belt.
“Then Kyu Doug, what belt is most important?” You may ask?
The most important belt in martial arts is white belt. Hands down.
“Seriously, Kyu Doug? White belt? That takes nothing! You sign up and show up once and you get a white belt. How is that the most important belt?”
Well, consider this. Picture Karate as a house. Black belt is the fine tuning on the house. Making it a home. The furniture, the accents, the paint, the fine things. You can’t get to that point without building the walls, the floor, the ceiling.
Brown belt, purple, blue, green, orange, yellow…these are the foundation of the house. These are the walls. The electrical, the plumbing, the very foundation.
However. None of this is possible without purchasing the land. You can’t refine a house you don’t build but you can’t build a house in thin air. You have to have the property to build the foundation. White belt symbolizes this property. You cannot refine or learn skills that you do not choose to learn in the first place.
You don’t finish the race that you choose not to run. Like everything in life, you must make the conscious decision to start something before you can master it. You can’t change anything in your life without making the decision to change and then doing it.
If you want to do something, need to do something, want or need to change, nothing is more important than to start. Whatever it is in life, embrace your white belt. Be the change you want to see and make something happen.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Laozi