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The Meaning of the Belt Colours in Cobra Martial Arts

The Meaning of the Belt Colours in Cobra Martial Arts

The belt system is not just a representation of rank and skill advancement, it is also an acknowledgement of personal growth towards self-mastery. Such advancement signifies not only growth within the dojo (training studio), but also outside of the dojo in all areas of life.

Each belt is a goal to be achieved and the belt system trains the student in the goal setting process which they will then apply in their life. Once a goal is set, it is created in an energy field as a hologram. The more emotional energy you consistently feed it through visualisation, the faster it materialises into dense energy as a physical manifestation. People call this energy field the 'imagination', however realise that it is a real, non-physical place where all creation begins.

The interpretation of the belt colours which follows, is but one of many possibilities. For example, the colour blue is known to represent water, sky and/or peace/calm. See if you can relate your belt colour to the challenges of the stage of training you are at.  


White Belt The beginning. Simplicity. Planting of the seed. The birth of a new martial artist. The beginning of the learning of ancient, sacred knowledge, and the quest for Self-Mastery, being mastery of the body, mind, and spirit complex. Humility and willingness to learn and grow. Searching for knowledge and personal growth. Belt Theme:         PUNCTUALITY

Eighty percent of success is showing up. - Woody Allen

You need to maintain punctuality to your classes until attendance becomes a habit.

Research shows that it takes about 66 days to develop a habit. Mental, physical and spiritual discipline is now part of your life, just like, brushing your teeth. Ensure you average your required TWO lessons each week. Remember to phone the school if you will be away for ONE or more weeks and to make up those missed lessons. Many senior students have maintained their average of two classes each week for over 10 years and their results are clearly evident in their positive attitudes, character, confidence, physique and self-defence capability. Punctuality is a trait of a true Black Belt Martial Artist for Life.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - Lao-Tzu.


Yellow Belt

Yellow is associated with Sun. The rays of sunlight which shine upon the seed, giving it strength, hope, ambition, creativity, and life. The student has been given the first seeds of knowledge. The student’s mind is opening and preparing for growth in body, mind, and spirit. The colour yellow is known to increase the production of serotonin in the brain.

Belt Theme - Probation Yellow:         GOAL SETTING

"A winner is someone who sets goals, commits to them and then pursues those goals with all the ability given to them". In the 1950's, Harvard did a study on goal setting. After interviewing their student body, they were shocked to find that only 3% had correctly set written goals. Twenty years later they did a follow-up study. The study showed that that 3% had accumulated more wealth than the other 97% combined. It is important that you set clear short-term goals (3 months), medium term (1 year) and long-term goals (4 years plus) for the following areas of your life:

1) Family life 2) Career 3) Finance and investment 4) Social / friends 5) Health & Fitness including Cobra Martial Arts 6) Education 7) Mental and Spiritual development. Set your goals NOW! Anyone who has ever achieved Black Belt, first set the goal to become one!

Belt Theme - Yellow:         EFFORT

"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Thomas Edison

"It's not how many hours you put in, it's how much you put into the hour."

Often times we are not successful because we simply don't try hard enough. Lack of effort in Martial Arts training is responsible for a lot of unattained goals, and dreams to someday be a Black Belt. If you can make a habit of giving your training your best effort, both mentally and physically, you are sure to become far more proficient in a much shorter time.

"If it is to be, it is up to me!"


Orange Belt

Orange is combination of yellow and red, so embodies both of their energetic properties. It represents the fire of the Sun, as the training syllabus ‘heats up’ and transitions to intermediate level techniques. It stands for energy, happiness, and the joy of life. It is associated with enthusiasm, encouragement, determination, and stimulation. It is also a colour of creativity.

Belt Theme - Probation Orange:         CONSISTENCY

Lack of consistency contributes more to failure that just about anything. On the other hand, consistency can do a lot to make up for a lack of talent. To be consistent, it is important not to "bite off more than you can chew". Chunk projects into bite size pieces that are realistic and attainable. This will help you to keep in the rhythm. Remember, "motivation follows action." Action on a consistent basis will keep you motivated and on track. Consistency in martial arts training is an important key to success. Almost without exception, today's Black Belts were not superstar white belts. Nor did they train for four hours a day every day. More often than not, they were of average ability, but they trained on a consistent basis twice a week. If you can make a habit of being consistent with your training, you're halfway to making Black Belt.

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

Belt Theme - Orange Belt:                SELF BELIEF

To achieve any goal in life, you must believe you are going to be successful. If you do not, you are likely to fail. We start creating beliefs as soon as we are born and sometimes these are a result of what others have said or taught us. As we progress through life, we continue to create new beliefs and change old ones. If we believe we are likely to fail, our subconscious mind will get to work to create actions which support this. On the other hand, if we believe we are going to succeed, then we probably will. Remember that you are unique and one of a kind. In all the world's history and in the future to come, there will never be another you!

"The obstacle is the path" - Zen Proverb


Blue Belt


The colour of the sky as the plant surges towards the heavens. Students start to realise their potential and their ambitions, goals, self-talk, and practice begin to manifest into physical reality. As their visualisations materialise, their mind and self-belief are stretched upward toward the sky, with a new confidence and freedom. The colour blue’s psychological connotations are almost exclusively derived from the sky and ocean, and relate to calm, peace, flow, serenity, honesty, truth, and kindness.

Belt Theme - Probation Blue:        SELF CONTROL

Self-control is the ability to control your actions and emotions. It is a mighty person who makes friends of enemies and maintains control of their emotions at all times. In Martial Arts self-control also applies to your level of contact when training with your partners in class. One of the first keys to developing self control is the ability to identify when you are losing control, whether that be in your life or in sparring. The second thing to do is view this loss of control as a sign of weakness, which is not acceptable. Finally, remember to breathe deeply. This sounds simple, but often times it's enough to keep us calm and in control. During sparring, in martial arts, and in life, remember not to allow your emotions to control you. Aim to remain calm and focused in tough or emotional situations. This will help to make every encounter work to your advantage.

Belt Theme - Blue:         PATIENCE

"All things are difficult before they are easy".

It is important to remember the law of accommodation: "The body develops whatever is demanded of it". Common sense tells you that if you are training on a consistent basis, your skills will improve. Try not to expect too much too soon, otherwise you might force things before they are ready and that will cause setbacks.

"Don't fight the river".


Green Belt The Dragon's Gate. Green signifies nature, renewal, and new growth of the tree as it fearlessly sprouts new shoots in new directions. The student learns new techniques and faces new challenges through the syllabus. They have entered 'The Dragon's Gate' and are now in uncharted territory and attempting feats and challenges in all areas of life, that they once never believed they were capable of. “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions”. (Ralph Waldo Emerson). A change in the colour of the martial arts trousers to black signifies their willingness to absorb and apply new information, as black absorbs all light energy frequencies.

Belt Theme - Probation Green:         COURAGE

"True courage is not fearlessness, it's overcoming fear". Courage is commonly thought of as the ability to face insurmountable odds without a hint of fear. More accurately however, courage is doing the right thing, even when it's not popular. It is about feeling the fear but doing it anyway.

It's facing new challenges with your head up and your eyes focused. Courage plays an important role in Martial Arts training. It takes courage to perform in front of your peers or at a grading, attempt a difficult kick, or spar with a tough classmate. Through these little acts of courage, our confidence grows, and we are able to accept even greater challenges.

Belt Theme - Green:         DETERMINATION

"Never give up, never, never, give up." Winston Churchill. Sometimes Martial Arts training can become very difficult. Sometimes you might even feel overwhelmed by the amount and difficulty of the required material. That is normal and we all go through that feeling. Remember that tough times are a test of your character - what are you really made of? Decide to become proficient in all aspects of your training. Just that decision alone will make a big difference.

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in your determination."

 Purple Belt


Purple is combination of blue and red, so embodies both of their properties. It is the fruit bearing level where the accumulation of two years of knowledge begins to become natural reactions, reflexes, and intuitions. It is a time of awakening. A defined product is evident, and the human being is now a higher version of their ‘white belt’ self in all areas.

Belt Theme - Probation Purple:          COMPLETION

"Many of life's failures are by people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up!". Completion is the ability to 'follow though' and finish anything important that you may start. We almost always know what we should do, however we don't always do it. 'Follow through' is the ability to do what we know we should do, until the task is completed. Folllow through means finishing what you started. In Martial Arts training, a partially completed technique or combination can be very dangerous. It demonstrates to your opponent a lack of commitment and confidence, and can leave you in an awkward position, off balance and open to attack. 'Following through' with your strikes is also very important for maximum effectiveness and power. Think of some projects you have started but not finished and take action to finish them before you start any new projects. During your martial arts training there will always be 'hills and valleys'. Hills are times when you are highly motivated such as after being promoted in

rank. Valleys are when you temporarily lose motivation until the next hill is visible. We all experience valleys but understand they are only temporary! Think back to the reasons why you began Cobra Martial Arts and re-commit to those original goals. 'Follow through' to Black Belt and beyond.

Belt Theme - Purple:                  COMMITMENT

"True perfection is unattainable. But if you chase perfection, you will catch excellence. Commit to excellence"- Vince Lombardi, Legendary American Football Coach (1913-1930).

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back - concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence (foresight) moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." - Johann Wolfgang von Goeth - German philosopher / writer / lawyer (1749-1832).

In the Martial Arts, to hesitate is a cardinal sin. When you hesitate, you leave yourself vunerable to attack and your strikes are not as powerful because they are not executed with full intent. Commitment means giving all your attention and effort to every movement or strike attempted. He who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position!

ZEN PROVERB: "If you are going to sit, SIT. If you are going to stand, STAND. Whatever you do, don't WOBBLE."


Red Belt


The Calm before the Storm. Red is the colour of blood, life, passion, courage, aggression, and war. All these attributes are needed to succeed through the challenges of life. The red belt level symbolises the beginnings of one’s own expression and outreach of the student into the world of martial arts. The student has developed a unique perspective of the world through the martial arts teachings, values, and traditions. The red level also symbolises a warning, being the danger of misusing the knowledge and power that the student now wields. The fierce heat of the Sun is represented once again, as the tree reaches new heights and prepares for the battles of the darker belt levels. There is a jacket colour change to blue at this stage, representing the ‘Calm before the Storm’.

Belt Theme - Probation Red:                  ENTHUSIASM

In general, we tend to enjoy the things that we are good at and dislike the things we don't do well. The problem with this is that it is hard to become better at something we dislike, so our weaknesses often stay weaknesses. To be enthusiastic and positive if you are having a bad day, you may need to "fake it, till you make it!". Be the 'you' you want to be… but be it NOW...and soon you will become it. We need to stay enthusiastic during our rigorous Martial Arts pursuits. On a hot or cold night, we may be tempted to skip a lesson or two (which is a week), which becomes two weeks. After two weeks away, many students no longer have the enthusiasm or courage to return (remember this next time you are thinking about skipping class without good reason!).

If we have had a bad day at work, had an argument with our partner, or received some bad news, we need to think positively and attend training. Many of us feel worse (and guilty), if we miss a scheduled lesson. Many students of this belt rank and above are involved with teaching classes.

Instructors may have 20 eager students waiting for them. They are all looking forward to an awesome and exciting lesson. You can't bring external problems or a negative state-of-mind into the dojo, thereby negatively infecting your students. You will find that if you hold your chin up and smile, this alone will raise your mind-set, attitude and enthusiasm. It is difficult to maintain a negative state of mind when you are in a positive place such as Cobra Dojo, surrounded by positive instructors and students. Dojo translates to "way place" meaning it is the place where we learn the way (of living a better life). As you tie that knot in your belt, that is the trigger to smile and focus… "it's show time!" and you will be taking centre stage.

Belt Theme - Red:    PERSEVERANCE          

"Press on. Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent". - John Calvin Coolidge - 30th President of the United States. To persevere is to maintain your best effort, in spite of whatever hardships you may face. To persevere in your Martial arts training is to maintain 100% effort in the face of extreme physical and / or mental stress. Perseverance is a vital part of achieving Black Belt and your set goals.

Brown Belt

The colour of the earth. The brown belt student is approaching an understanding of the nature of their relationship with humanity, planet Earth, and the Universe. A student of this level has a unique view of the world as an accomplished martial artist and warrior of the truth and light. The brown belt student is searching for their place in the universe, their purpose, their mission, and expression of their divine and inherited gifts and talents. Brown belt is the harvest stage where maturity is needed in preparation for black belt. It is a time of testing ones physical and internal strengths of mind, body, and spirit. The student is no longer ‘spoon fed’ and often there are no other brown belt students to partner or practice with. They need to show initiative and the ability to persevere, organise, self-motivate, and even train on their own in isolation (called hermit / monk mode), as all dedicated, high-level martial artists who have out stayed their peers do.

Belt Theme - Probation Brown:        FOCUS           

"The ability to concentrate on something specific and block out distractions. The three rules of concentration are: Focus your eyes, focus your mind, focus your body. What you focus on determines your outcome. "Focus on problems and you will have more of them. Focus on weaknesses and they will grow. Focus on solutions and you will find them. Focus on strengths and you will become stronger". Focus is critical in Martial Arts training whether it be in class, at a grading, or during a street attack. When a Martial Artist is focused, their mind, body, and soul operate in harmony, allowing maximum effectiveness. Belt Theme - Brown:    HONOUR                

"Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity." - Sean O'Casey - Irish Playwright (1880-1964). "A person is for one generation, but honour is for all generations".

Honour is to value and maintain your good name and esteem, by acting in an ethical, and morally just fashion. The way in which you train with others reflects directly on how they see you. Train in an honourable way, and you will soon earn the respect of your peers. Train seriously, in a way that others will respect. "A person who doesn't care about what anyone thinks, may act in a selfish manner. Maintain high ethical standards in all that you do".


Black Belt


Black is not a colour. Black absorbs all energy frequencies. Black belt is comprised of all lower belt colours combined, signifying absorption of the teachings of all preceding belt levels. Therefore, the techniques tested for the black belt grading are that of the entire curriculum. Black colour is associated with seriousness, power, and strength. Black commands respect and represents dignity and elegance. Black belt martial artists are known worldwide as tough, durable, are treated with respect, and are not to be messed with. Having ‘black belt’ on your resume tells a prospective employer that you have a proven track record of commitment and dedication to rigorous physical, mental, and spiritual training over a minimum of 4.5 years.

Belt Theme:      PURPOSE                

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” - William Shedd (1820-1894) - Theologian.

"Life without a purpose is a dull, spiritless, drifting thing… we ought to review our purpose in life regularly."

“My heart is a gypsy - continuously searching for a home, fighting within itself, wondering whether it is weak, or even right for that matter, to be searching in the first place. Loneliness is what it feels like...”

You have been training for four years now. You have climbed a long ladder from which most of your classmates have fallen. You have achieved many goals along the way, but one of the biggest, your quest for Black Belt, stands in front of you, only 9 months away. Martial Arts has become an integral part of your life and has influenced your purpose, direction, health and friendships. But what will happen to your purpose, mind-set and dedicated training / teaching, after you achieve Black Belt? Is Black Belt your only driving force and purpose, or is Martial Arts now in your soul and part of you forever? It is now time to make a firm decision about your goals, dreams and purpose 'Beyond Black Belt'. Just like most of your classmates fell off the Martial Arts ladder along the way, many who make it to Black Belt fall off soon after achieving it, and their skills, fitness and positive mind-set regress rapidly, often all the way back down to as low as yellow belt level. However, realise, Black Belt is the completion of 'basic training' and the ladder continues to the Master's levels and beyond. Consider second degree Black Belt. Also consider passing on your knowledge, skills and experience to up-and-coming students through teaching, whether that be as an assistant or someday a main instructor. If this interests, you speak with Sensei about future possibilities which will renew your martial goals and interests for the future.

A range of Cobra Martial Arts belt colours
A range of Cobra Martial Arts belt colours



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