tying the knot

the correct way to tie your karate belt

stepping into your first karategi feels odd; the cotton is stiff and heavy, and moving can feel cumbersome and awkward. this is the same as any new thing, and in the same way the gi will feel comfortable and very free to move in before very long. tying the obi (belt) also feels odd because it is unfamiliar, but soon becomes second nature (as hopefully the karate you practice wearing it does too). there are several ways to tie the belt, and these are down to personal choice in the end; remember that the gi and obi are clothes you wear to train in, and nothing more. they are, in essence, loose simple clothes to allow you to train and not spoil your normal clothes. there is nothing 'special' about them, and you should wear your gi such that it allows you to do what you need. if someone shows you a different way to tie your belt, and as long as it works, no problem. if the belt stays on and doesn't get in your way, that's really all it needs to do.

to begin, find the midpoint of your belt. most adult belts are around 280 - 300 cm long, and are wrapped around the body twice (for smaller people, thrice is fine though shorter belts are available and more comfortable). match the centre of the belt to your centre in front.

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pass the ends around your waist, crossing them at the back, and bring them round to the front. cross over the ends so that the end from your right side (crossing to end on your left) is on top (away from your body).

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take this end, on your left, and pass it under and up behind both of the bands of the belt wrapped around you.

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the belt will now suport itself without falling; take a moment to adjust the girth of the belt and the position of the knot such that the two ends are the same length. your belt should be tight enough that it does not drop too low on your hips and restrict the movement of your lower body, but loose enough that it does not make your gi tight enough to restict the movement of your upper body. a rule of thumb is that if you find yourself thinking/worrying about your gi while training, you haven't got it quite right yet. trial and error will sort this out very quickly.

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all that remains is to tie a simple knot, left end over right end, in front of you. tie the knot loosely and do not pull it tight yet.

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if you pull the knot tight here, the ends of the belt will be directed upwards and will look awkward. worse, they may distract or interfere with your training. it is not unknown for the ends of belts to hit you in the eye this way, and it can be avoided very easily. take the ends in your hands and twist them down and away from you (as if you were opening a throttle with both hands), such that the belt twists within the knot and finishes with the ends pointing down.

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slowly tighten the knot, adjusting the position of the belt as you go (as you would a tie, to ensure a good knot shape). the knot should be tight such that it does not come loose during training (see below).

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you have now tied your karate belt! make sure that it is comfortable, and adjust it as you need during training until you no longer think about it.


advanced belt tying

if you are comfortable with the judgement of how long your belt ends are, begin at one end of the belt (on your right) and wrap the belt twice around you to your left; this removes the crossing point at your back and makes the belt more comfortable and appear nicer. everything else is the same.

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if your belt comes undone during training

remember that you cannot simply stop what you are doing; your opponent may not notice and may still engage you. ideally you will notice before the knot comes undone and you may simply tighten it without worry in a spare second, or if the knot comes undone but the belt remains you can finish the exercise before re-tying the knot after yamae. but if you are engaged in a kumite exercise and need to break because the belt may fall off and be a danger (the same also applies for lost mitts or gumshields), you must indicate this clearly to your opponent with a raised (back) hand and wait for them to break also. it is customary to turn away while retying your belt or adjusting your gi, such that it is obvious you are not ready to engage.


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