Belt Tying 101

Obi is the Japanese term for your belt. Back in the days when dojo had earthen floors, students were issued one belt, at the beginning of their training. This was their white belt. They would wear this belt, without washing it, until it eventually became black. Even today, we do not wash our belts. The purpose of this is to recognize the “blood, sweat, and tears” that go into earning each belt.

Learning to tie one’s obi can be something of a challenge. Learning to tie one’s child’s obi, even more so. On this page, we will go through the steps to tie one’s belt. Please note that there may be different methods to make this same knot, and that different dojo may use different methods – or even different knots! The method here is the one taught at Rising Sun Martial Arts.


This video was filmed at Rising Sun Martial Arts on June 27, 2015.  All camera and video editing work was done by Sensei Amelia Gallup.


If you are interested in seeing the old version, with still photos, click here.  Please note that Kyoshi uses the same belt in this video as he did all those years ago when the photos were taken.  If you look closely at the photos, you will notice that he is wearing a Renshi patch on his gi.  The belt, which is a Renshi belt, is worn differently depending on the rank of the wearer…

  • Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt) – white stripe on top, black side facing out.
  • Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt) – white stripe on top, black side facing in.
  • Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) – red stripe on top, black side facing in.

In the video above, Kyoshi Baker holds the rank of Nanadan (7th Degree Black Belt).

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