Category Archives: History

The Shogo FAQ – The Meanings of Renshi, Kyoshi, Hanshi and Shihan

What does [Renshi/Kyoshi/Hanshi/Shihan] mean? In addition to the kyu/dan (underbelt/black belt) ranking system used by most Japanese martial arts, there is a parallel system called shogo (称号). The word loosely translates into English as title or rank. In this context, title is a bit more accurate. These titles are awarded only to dan (black belt) […]

The ACTUAL Origin of Karate Belts

We’ve now hit on two very different myths about where karate belts came from. They didn’t come from not washing belts, and they weren’t invented for lazy Americans. So where did they come from? We must recognize that what came first wasn’t the belts, it was the kyu/dan ranking system that the belts represent. This […]

How Your Karate Belt Colors DIDN’T Come To Be

There’s a legend surrounding karate belt colors. I’ve heard variants of it in many dojos, but the core of the legend goes something like this: In the beginning, the only two belt colors were white and black. Since ancient tradition dictates that washing your belt washes all your knowledge away, over time, a student’s belt […]