Obi (martial arts)

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Obis for budō. The colours range from yellow to brown corresponding to judo kyū levels from 9th to 1st.
The way of tying the obi used in judo, aikido and karate.
In some Japanese martial arts the obi is hidden underneath the hakama. Pictured is a kyūdōka.

Many Japanese martial arts feature an obi as part of their exercise outfit. These obis are often made of thick cotton and are about 5 cm wide. The martial arts obis are most often worn in the koma-musubi knot (square knot); in practice where hakama is worn, the obi is tied in other ways.

In many martial arts the colour of the obi signifies the wearer's skill level. Usually the colours start from the beginner's white and end in the master's black, or red and white.

Aikido[edit]

Unlike in many other martial arts, adult practitioners of aikido do not wear coloured obis,[1] though in some schools different colour codes have been formed,[1] especially for children. The children's obis range from white for beginner level to 5th kyū, other colours for the rest of the kyū levels, and black for levels 1st dan and up.[2]

In some aikido schools, wearing a hakama is a privilege earned by reaching the first dan level. In other schools, all practitioners may wear a hakama. After taking up using a hakama, the colour of obi does not matter since it will be covered by the hakama.[2]

Example of colour range in aikido[edit]

Below is a typical example of obi colours per level in aikido:[1]

Level Obi colour
6th kyū yellow
5th kyū orange
4th kyū green
3rd kyū blue
2nd and 1st kyū brown
1st-3rd dan black
4th-9th dan black and red, or
white and red
10th dan red

However, aikido schools worldwide may use their own systems with little reference to other schools save the use of a black belt for at least some dan grades.

Atarashii naginata[edit]

The outfit used for Atarashii naginata practice includes a hakama that covers the obi. The obi is always white; its colour has no significance beyond simply blending in with the white keikogi worn when practicing the art.

Iaido[edit]

The outfit worn to iaido practise includes a hakama, which is worn over the top of the obi, which fastens the keikogi. The obi colour has no meaning in iaido,[3] and is usually chosen to blend in with the kimono or hakama worn by the practitioner.

Jōdō[edit]

The outfit used for jōdō practise includes a hakama that covers the obi. The colour of the obi has no significance.

Judo[edit]

Below are the colours of obis worn for judo practise. Junior practitioners have a different colour range.[4] There are also other colour ranges used worldwide.

Level Obi colour
beginners red
10th kyū white
9th kyū yellow
8th and 7th kyū orange
6th and 5th kyū green
4th and 3rd kyū blue
2nd and 1st kyū brown
1st - 5th dan black
6th and 7th dan red and white
8th - 10th dan red
Shōdan-ho brown and black
("temporary black")
1st – 5th dan black
6th dan and higher red and white

Jujutsu[edit]

The colours for obis used for jujutsu practise range as follows:[5]

Level Obi colour
beginners red
10th – 8th kyū red
7th kyū white with
a red stripe
6th kyū yellow
5th kyū orange
4th kyū green
3rd kyū blue
2nd kyū violet
1st kyū brown
Shōdan-ho brown and black
("temporary black")
1st - 5th dan black
6th dan and higher red and white

Jūkendō[edit]

The outfit used for Jūkendō practise includes a hakama that covers the obi. The colour of the obi has no significance.

Karate[edit]

Wado-ryu[edit]

The obis used in the wado-ryu style range in colour as follows:[6]

Level Obi colour
beginners white
10th kyū white
9th kyū white with
a advance tab
8th kyū yellow
7th kyū orange
6th kyū green
5th kyū blue
4th kyū violet
3rd - 1st kyū brown
1st dan and higher black

Shotokan[edit]

The obis used in the shotokan style range in colour as follows:[7]

Level Obi colour
9th kyū orange
8th kyū red
7th kyū yellow
6th kyū green
5th kyū violet
4th kyū violet with
a white stripe
3rd kyū brown
2nd kyū brown with
a white stripe
1st kyū brown with
two white stripes
1st - 10th dan black

Kendo[edit]

The outfit used for kendo practise includes a hakama that covers the kendogi. An obi is optional; if worn, its colour has no significance.[8]

Kyūdō[edit]

The outfit used for kyūdō practise includes a hakama that covers the obi. The colour of the obi has no significance.

T'ai Chi Ch'uan[edit]

The outfit used for T'ai Chi is either loose-fitting, comfortable clothing or the same kind of uniform as Kung Fu. Some schools also include coloured sash, but no standard for their order has been established. They commonly follow the same basic rules as Kung Fu, beginning with white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, brown and black. Some may skip a rank, others may subdivide them with a stripe or tag.

References[edit]

  • Bennett, Gary (1997). Aikido techniques & tactics. Human Kinetics Publisher. ISBN 0-88011-598-X. 
  • Goodman, Fay (1998). The Ultimate Book of Martial Arts. Lorenz Books. ISBN 1-85967-778-9. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bennett p. 8-11
  2. ^ a b Goodman s. 70
  3. ^ Goodman p. 230-231
  4. ^ Goodman s. 134
  5. ^ Goodman s. 101
  6. ^ Goodman s. 32
  7. ^ Goodman s. 52
  8. ^ Goodman s. 214