"The Way of the Neuron"


Belt Meanings

The belt represents your knowledge in which you have gained over the years.  Originally, only one white belt was issued at the start of training.  The uniform would be washed but the belt was NEVER washed. It was believed if the belt was washed then the knowledge gained would be washed away.  So one could imagine that over the many years of training and not washing the white belt, it would eventually turn black from the accumulation of the dirt, blood, and sweat. 

10th Kup – White belt - Innocent World 

White means pure and without knowledge.  It is the introduction to a new world and the start of a new journey.  Sometimes this is overwhelming to the student, but once the format becomes apparent to them they become ready for the next rank.  This is similar to how neurons connect.  It is very difficult in the beginning but once a pathway is developed it becomes more and more efficient.  It is also understood that neurons create new connections through learning new complex tasks.   


9th Kup – Yellow belt - Rejection and then Acceptance of responsibility   
Yellow means the seed that is planted in the soil.  This is the recognition of goals and the acceptance of responsibility of the journey.  Once achieving the yellow belt some students reject the responsibility of planting the seed because they realize the amount of work necessary to achieve the next belt.  Once they begin accepting the responsibility they begin progressing to the next rank.


8th Kup – Orange belt - Patience
Orange means the nutritive soil in which the seed is planted.  They already are comfortable with the pattern necessary to progress.  Sometimes the student becomes frustrated and/or anxious in obtaining the next rank of green belt in which they tend to rush through techniques. Just as you cannot see the seed grow because it is buried within the soil.  You anxiously await the arrival of the first sprout.   


7th Kup – Green belt - External Power Source
Green represents the plant growing out of the soil. The seed sprouts and breaks through the ground and is now free to grow. Sparring now becomes an important part of the training.  Just as you learn that the letters of the alphabet create words and those words create sentences, etc...  The movements learned are now taught to be brought into a fluid motion of blocking, kicking, and punching combinations.  The student gains power from external sources, the instructor, their sparring gear, and high ranks that help nurture the sprout into the next rank of a tree.     


6th Kup – Camouflage = Dendritic Arborization 
The camouflage represents the plant growing into a tree, in which roots, trunk, and, branches, and leaves are formed. Strength and courage is achieved while sparring others.  Interestingly, the combinations that were learned previously, the student now begins to create their own combinations.  This is similar to the neurons connecting to each other creating different neural networks (dendritic arborization).  This foundation of kicks and punches taught previously allow for a variety of different combinations that branch out like tree branches from the base trunk of knowledge.    


5th Kup – Blue belt - Infinite Potential   
Blue belt represent the plant growing towards the sky.  This symbolizes the infinite possibilities in which one can develop towards.  The plant will grow towards the light.  If one wants to grow fully, light needs to encompass the tree.  For a student to grow the brain needs to develop within a similar balance.  Such as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west shinning light onto both halves of the tree to allow the branches to fill in evenly.  The brain needs to develop in a similar fashion first with focus on the right hemisphere then followed by the left hemisphere. (Realize, just because the focus is on the right does not mean the left is not active.  Just as if the light is on the east side, this does not mean the west side is not growing.) 


4th Kup – Purple - The Trials 
The purple represents the blossoming of the tree.  The blossoms are a symbol for perseverance and resilience despite the challenges of the environment.  This is where the student's skills are challenged.  Without this challenge their potential will not be realized.  Just as the type of flower on the tree will determine the type of fruit it will bear. Understanding one's strengths and weaknesses allows you to be able to focus on your talents and abilities that will make you productive in life in which leads into the next belt.  


3rd Kup – Red belt - Fruition of Potential
The red represents the tree bearing fruit.  This is the students' realization of their potential and how they are to be able to bring it to fruition. This is achieved as as the student begins to break boards.  This is the real application of their techniques which builds confidence in the skill set that they are beginning to master.  Though Bruce Lee stated, "Boards don't fight back," lets be honest, how else are you going to determine whether or not you techniques are gaining power without breaking your sparring partner's bones.  I guess you could use pressure sensors but it would not be as exciting or as satisfying as breaking boards and bricks.       


2nd Kup – Brown Belt - Symbolic Death 
The brown represents the shedding of the fruit and the leaves off the tree.  In order to continue to progress the student will need to mature and get ready to let go of their old self and prepare for the new self.  As seen above, the realization of the student's power also brings about the duality that is within all of us, in which their is a temptation away from the true path.  This may lead the student towards using their knowledge in a destructive way.  During this time the student also needs to let go of what they have already learned in order to learn more.  This is similar to the old Zen story in which the Zen master told a learned man, "If you do not empty your cup, how will you be able to taste my tea."  Sometimes the knowledge we have can blind us from true understanding.                    


1st Dan – 1st degree black belt - Success / New Beginning
Attainment of the Black belt is a great achievement and it symbolizes that you are a Master of basic technique.  This represents the mixing of all the color belts and can also represents the emptiness of space which contains everything.  It is the realization of the beginning of a new life cycle.  Initially, a plain black belt is awarded, in which a period is devoted to practicing in order to achieve the 1st degree. 

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