Belt Testing

Tangible signs of progress, responsibility, and accomplishment are important in life—serving to instill a healthy pride. And so, just as military personnel boast stripes and other indications of rank on their uniforms, martial artists wear belts of various colors, which increase in stature as the student advances in ability and skill.


The tradition of “colored” belts is linked to myths, legends, and 200-plus-year-old facts.

  • Myths and legends state that the belts or sashes worn by the ancient martial arts practitioners turned from white to brown to black with the wear-and-tear of training and experience—eventually turning white again as the belts wore even further into the fabric; symbolizing that the learning process always continues. That no one is ever really a master.
  • The now-accepted facts are that the first actual black belts signifying rank were given by Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo, in the 1880s. It was not until the early 1900s, after the introduction of the gi (traditional uniform), that an expanded colored belt system of awarding rank was created.

Visit Belt Ranks & Themes for a full explanation of our system’s rank progression.


At Old School Kenpo, each belt must be earned. Promotions are awarded when an individual student is ready—not according to a set schedule.

Each promotion is exciting. Every time a student is honored in a belt ceremony before fellow students or enters the studio wearing a higher-ranking belt, it is a source of tremendous pride—for both the student and the school.

Further details about each step of the process are provided under Testing Principles, Test Procedures, and Belt Promotions.