Are you considering karate classes for yourself or your child? Karate is a healthy and fun pastime for children and adults, and it even comes with a nifty way to track your progress as you learn – the belts that start out white and are traded in for progressively darker colors as you move through the ranks.

You already know that the belt colors can tell you where you are in terms of skill and training, but did you know that each color has a symbolic meaning as well? Take a look at what each belt color represents:

Beginner Belts

The first three belt colors are white, yellow, and orange. If you think of the discipline of karate as a garden, the white belt symbolizes the potential for new beginning in the garden, like a seed freshly planted in the earth. The next belt, yellow, stands for the sun that encourages that new seed to grow. Orange represents the warmth of the sun as it encourages the new plant – your talent and skill – to emerge from the earth.

Intermediate Belts

After the orange belt, you'll move on to the intermediate colors: blue, green, and purple. At this point, your skill in martial arts is like a seedling that's just broken out from under the earth and is reaching toward the sky, hence the color blue. As you learn more and grow stronger, your skills deepen, the way that a seedling turns a healthy, deeper green color after its roots are established and begins to bloom.

The purple belt signifies a change in the garden, like a seasonal change. It signifies that you're moving into a new phase in your training.

Advanced Belts

The next belt is the brown belt. Brown represents fall, a time of ripening and harvest. At this point, your skills have matured and ripened, and you're beginning to reap the rewards of all of your hard work and training. This is followed by a red belt. The color red again represents the sun. Now that the plant – your skill – is mature, it's closer to the sun, so the color is more brilliant and the heat is warmer.

Mastery Belts

The black belt stands for the universe beyond the sun – deep black space. Those unfamiliar with karate tend to think of the black belt as the end of the road, but it's not really an end. There are actually eight levels of black belts. Once you reach the first black belt, you've moved beyond the sun and you have a whole new universe to explore and progress through.

These symbols do a good job of illustrating why you can't just rush through your martial arts training – in order to reach each new level, you have to fully develop yourself in the previous level. The journey isn't just a means of reaching the black belt at the end; instead, the journey itself is the goal, and the black belt simply represents a whole new journey. To learn more, contact a company like H S Lee's Karate School with any questions you have.