Obi – the belt

Obi (jap. In Japanese, the word for belt is generally worn, whether for the kimono or the keikogi (actually: tracksuit; in Western countries but rather dedicated for clothing in martial arts).

The word derives from Obebe, an ancient word in the Kyoto dialect for kimono. ( )

Functions of the belt

When Martial arts there are three general functions of the belt.

The first and most banal is the cohesion of the suit jacket. For this purpose, in most martial arts, the belt is wrapped several times around the hip and with a – very special – knot (jap. Musubi). As e.g. during judo, you can watch the video linked below.

The the second meaning of the belt is its colour as a symbol of the Qualification. From "brighter" to "darker" takes the experience that acquired knowledge of the carrier. The darker a belt is, the qualified, therefore, the fighter. The number of colours sometimes varies very strong. In Japan, for example, only "white" and "brown" are common as student grades. In Germany, on the other hand, the following basic colours are for the grades (Kyu) Known:

  • white (9.Kyu)
  • yellow (7.Kyu)
  • orange (5.Kyu)
  • green (3.Kyu)
  • blue (2.Kyu)
  • brown (1.Kyu)

To exams, especially in the first years of training, should not be the number of tasks in order to obtain the next higher belt and created the following intermediate graduations, which are can be identified by two-tone belts:

  • white/yellow (8.Kyu)
  • yellow/orange (6.Kyu)
  • orange/green (4.Kyu)

With the acquisition of the Master Degree (Dan), the belt to be worn is black. There are a total of 10 master grades and only up to to 5.Dan the belt remains black. Carriers of the 6.-8.Dan are red/white striped belts, while from the 9th Dan a red belt is to be borne. So most people are mistaken when they see the black Keep belt for the highest belt.

And in the Iaido e.g. the color of the belt has no meaning at all.

The third function of the Obi only comes into play in selected martial arts. In this case, it is still used to pick up the sword. Since the judo (with few exceptions in the Katas) is not the case, we do not wish to go into this in more detail here either.

Dimensions and binding type

The belt is usually 4-5 cm wide. Especially for sports where a sword is worn, the belt is also available up to 8 cm wide. Further up we had already mentioned that the belt is usually tied twice around the waist and then knotted. From this it is relatively easy to calculate the length for the wearer of the belt. This results from 2x of the hip circumference, about 10 cm for binding the knot plus 2x 20cm, which the belt should hang down at the ends. This rule of thumb fits very well, at least for judo.

In detail, we have provided you with the tying of the belt as a video.


The Following the functions described above, the Obi is often made of very strong Fabric. Cotton is usually used, and occasionally silk is also seen.

Proper storage

After the workout, the belt should first dry. It is often the case that during intensive training sessions the belt also absorbs moisture. Once dried, the belt should not be rolled, but folded. Especially with high-quality, stable belts, this is important in order not to affect the stability. Simple belts do not take any damage when rolled. Personally, I have a bag that has a separate belt compartment into which I put my belts neatly into.


For many fighters is their Obi also jewelry or jewelry. a sign of the connection to their martial arts. They therefore often leave it with Japanese characters, embroider names and so-called Dan strips.

Author: Kay