Is there a meaning to the order of the coloured belts in Kenpo (EPAK)?

Mauthos

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The title says it all really.

I ask this question as it is well documented what the dan grades represent within the world of kenpo from Junior instructor (1st) to Professor (6th) to the dizzy heights of Senior Master of the Arts or Grand Master (10th).

However, the order of the coloured belts, white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green then the 3 browns do not seem to have anything associated with them.

I am curious as research from several sources reveals many reasons behind the colour scheme used within the martial arts such as:

- You only ever wear one belt, your white. Forbidden to wash it so over time (can wash your knowledge out :() dirt, grime etc, gradually turn it black (not sure I trust that one)

- Again only one belt was worn as it used to be difficult to obtain different coloured belts, therefore the white belt was dyed every time a new rank was attained, therefore the colours were lighter to start with becoming progressively darker etc (doesn't quite work for Kenpo)

- There is a story behind the colours. I know from a friend who teaches Tang Soo Do that the order of their belts has an interesting story explaining how your knowledge of the art develops and grows like that of the tree, the various changes in colour of your belt therefore reflects your growth in regards to that reflecting the growth of the tree.

Personally, I think it could just be a order decided on simply to make up the syllabus right at the start, however, I would like to think there is some kind of reason and story behind the specific order, like that of Tang Soo.

If anyone has any ideas or input, please share below :)
 

J W

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Tracy's website says that the belt colors were chosen based on what was available from their supplier at the time.

http://www.tracyskarate.com/FAQ'S/orgincoloredbelts.htm

If this is accurate, then looks like there wasn't much thought put into the colors other than what they could readily get back then.

These guys assign a bit more meaning to the belt colors: http://www.millersdojo.com/2011/02/belt-ranking-in-american-kenpo/

Not sure if those meanings came from Ed Parker or if that's their own take, though.

I don't have any real expertise on this subject, this is just what I found on Google.
 

Flying Crane

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I do not believe there is any meaning to the colored belts, other than to organize a curriculum of material that the student is to be taught. If some people try to attach some deeper meaning, that is their own take on it and should not be seen as the position of the larger community, either within kenpo or otherwise.
 

Carol

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The white belt turns black from grime is a myth. Kind of a gross one too IMO. Washing dirty gear doesn't cause a person to lose knowledge. Not training or practicing causes a person to lose knowledge ;)

Having different belt colors originated with Judo. Having colors that went from light to dark (white, green, brown, black) made it easier for the students to re-dye their belts as the practice was spread around Japan and Europe, at a time when dying fabric was rather expensive. There was a practical aspect as well, for the mudansha (students with colored-belt ranks) and their instructors alike. It provided motivation and structure to the more junior students. It also gave their instructors at chance to see at a glance who is at what level.

For Kenpo, the importance isn't in the colors themselves but rather in how the techniques are structured. They build on on one another. Techniques learned at lower ranks aid the student in what is taught at higher ranks.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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From what i know, as carol said t started out with Judo. What I've heard about the meaning for them was not for the instructors or the students, but rather for guests to the dojo knowing the relative level of the people when they enter. As for kenpo, completely agree. They use it until black simply as a way to structure the techniques and help know when to teach people each technique so techniques aren't taught too early or ignored by accident.
 

Touch Of Death

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As for the belt meanings, in my system the belt levels do carry meaning: Yellow and Orange are the mechanical levels; purple represents proficiency of the mechanical and introduction to more complex ideas; Blue Belt is an introduction to fluidity, and or making fluid what you already know; Green Belt is Speed; Brown Belt is Power... if memory serves. :)
 

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