How to tie your Karate belt

The karate belt knot is a simple square knot. The tricky part is getting the belt around the waist. There are two methods of doing it, the “Twist” method and the “Narrow” method.

The Twist method is easy. Find the middle of the belt. Put it on or near your belly button. Wrap the ends around your waist until they come to the front again. Then tie the knot. This produces a twist in the back where the belt crosses over itself. Some people find this uncomfortable when they roll or slap out.

The Narrow method is trickier but makes a single belt line in the back. Start with an end and place it on the hipbone. Start wrapping the belt across the belly and around until you get to the end. The end should be in front of you otherwise make adjustments to get it there. Pull the initial end out slightly from underneath the wrap. Measure that they are nearly the same lengths.

If not, then slide the whole belt around until the ends are the same lengths. Then tie the knot.

Whichever end is on top is the first link. For this demonstration, it is the right end. Tuck the right end under BOTH layers of the belt and pull until snug. Then loop the left (the same one that was right a step before) inside the right. Pull both ends until the knot is secure.

If you started on the left hip then just reverse the left and right notations. The Karate belt knot should look like a square knot. Below is a demonstration of tying the belt so you can see how it works. Play it a few times until you get it.

Our school has a few customs for tying a belt. These are not universal rules since I’ve discovered most schools have similar or no rules regarding the belt. Breaking these rules won’t result in Manner Ninjas attacking you in the night. It won’t even get you kicked out of a respectable dojo. They’re here just to provide guidelines on proper behavior and etiquette. Respect the belt and you respect your accomplishments.

  1. Perform a belt blessing before putting it on. This involves two steps. First touch the folded belt to your forehead, lips and chest representing the uniting of mind, spirit and body. The next step is snapping the belt — holding two folded ends and pulling quickly to produce a snap.
  2. Don’t let the belt ends drag on the floor while wrapping or tying the belt. This is demonstrated in the video by holding the folded section until it is wrapped around the waist. It gets easier with practice.
  3. Kneel down when a Black BeltĀ  (or higher-ranking Black Belt) dons their belt. Some schools require you to face away from the Kamiza (the portrait of the Grandmaster or front of the room).
  4. You should kneel down when tying your belt. (Although this is not observed much anymore.)
  5. Always fold your belt after use. Keep it clean and put away. This is a good practice for everything you own, fold it and put it away.

Does your school have any belt traditions or customs? I’d like to hear about them.

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