How to Tie Your Kid’s Karate Belt Correctly (& Why It’s Important)

Whenever I’m teaching class, one of the first things I look at is the belt knot of students. Generally I know, right away, which students I can trust to stay on task, practice diligently, and expect quality just by looking at their dobok (uniform). It’s all about the message you send and the respect you give yourself. A messy student tells me they do not take Taekwondo seriously and thus will not be properly focused in class.  Remember that in Taekwondo, we call the uniform a “dobok.”

I understand when a student has no idea how to tie their belt or that there was a “proper way” in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s not a question I often receive unless the student is a brand new black belt and needs to learn how to tie a double wrap. But why is this so important?  Why does tying your belt matter? If the belt stays together, that’s enough, right? Wrong. Let’s take a look at why this is so important and how to properly tie the color belt (single wrap).

The belt, and the belt knot, are not simply there to keep your dobok from falling apart.  There is meaning and purpose behind the belt knot. The belt knot, when properly tied, forms a triangle that points to the right of the student. The triangle’s three points represent the three elements of training: physical, mental, and emotional. If you only train one element, you will be lacking in other areas.  This will leave you unbalanced. For example, a student who only focuses on physical training will lack mental preparation and mental toughness. The student will also lack the emotional strength required to maintain discipline and focus. Only by training in all three aspects can the student truly excel in Taekwondo and life.

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Moreover, the belt must be balanced when tied. A belt that is unbalanced on one side or the other, as it hangs from the student, symbolizes an unbalanced student. A balanced belt demonstrates care and respect for self, respect for the instructor, and respect for Taekwondo. A messy dobok (uniform) demonstrates a lack of respect.

Before we talk about how to tie a belt correctly, I want to show two improper color belt knots:


This belt knot is backwards!  The triangle points to the left of the student.


The knot is gnarled and twisted, no care was given to the tying of this belt.


Let’s move on to tying our single wrap color belt correctly!

Step 1: Ensure the belt is of equal length

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Step 2: Wrap the belt around you, with right over the left

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Step 3: Wrap the right side under the left and pull tight

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Step 4: Place the left side over the right

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Step 5: Pull the right side up and through the hole

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

Step 6: Pull both sides tightly to form the knot

how to tie your kid's karate belt correctly

A dobok and belt that looks clean and proper shows the proper respect for all. It demonstrates to the parents and the instructor that the student is ready to learn and ready to be a leader. During testing, a student who demonstrates this sends a message to the instructors: I am ready for testing!  As an instructor and as a student, I take extra care to ensure my belt is properly tied before any class or testing. This is the respect I give to you, my students, and to the parents.

Do you still need help learning how to tie your kid’s  or your own karate belt or do you have it down? How long did it take for you to remember how to do it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Cliff Woodward

Cliff Woodward is a 2nd Degree Black Belt and instructor at Karate Denver.

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