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Stripe Psychology 101

Welcome to Stripe Psychology 101...a crash course in awarding stripes in your martial arts program. Learn how to use stripes to effectively motivate students!

Does your martial arts gym award stripes as your students progress toward the next belt?
If so, you are doing it right! Stripes are a great way to motivate your students further and show them measurable progress towards the next level.

Psychological Benefits of Promotion:

When a student gets a new belt, they feel a surge of accomplishment and in turn experience a renewed sense of purpose and passion in their training. Using stripes, you are able to ignite this in each student more often, allowing for a richer martial arts experience. I’m sure you have seen a child improve their focus and discipline overnight after receiving a new belt. They get a huge boost in self-esteem and it shows on the mat. We see our students stand up straighter, KIAI louder and punch harder as they travel down their journey towards black belt. Students understand they are now a higher belt and need to be an example for newer students. This pushes them to grow into the strong leaders that a solid martial arts foundation can produce.

How many stripes should I give out?

The number and color of stripes are up to you! Stripes can be a quicker and less expensive method of promoting a student. A good rule of thumb is to give out 4 stripes per belt, making the final stripe stand out using a different color. You can even make each stripe a different color for fun with younger students! We advise not going over 4 stripes per belt color. Even though stripes are encouraging, there is nothing quite like the feeling of getting that next belt tied around your waist at a promotion ceremony.

When should I give out stripes?

Stripes can be given out during normal class time. We recommend giving the first stripe within a few weeks of the student’s first class. The sole purpose of this first stripe is to give them a taste of progress. This seeds a strong intrinsic motivation in the individual that will stay with them throughout their martial arts journey.

After the first stripe, give a stripe monthly for all white belts. As a student progresses through your school’s specific belt system, make it harder to earn each stripe. Let your instructors have the flexibility to give out stripes when it will benefit the child most. If an unfocused student has a particularly great day of training, award a stripe at the end of class to positively reinforce that good behavior. If you announce to students at the start of class that stripes will be awarded that day, they will push themselves harder to earn it.

Earning their Stripes!

Students literally earn their stripes on each belt to prove they are ready to advance. Stripes are a visual reminder, especially for younger martial artists, providing tangible evidence to symbolize immeasurable progress.

Do you use stripes in your Martial Arts Curriculum?!

We would love to hear how your school awards stripes and motivates your students!

Drop us a comment below or email us at

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