White, yellow, orange and green are the first four karate belt colors. Blue, purple, brown, red and black are the last five karate belt colors, with each connoting an increased level of skill and knowledge.
Each color symbolizes a stage in the karate student's development, with white indicating birth or a seed, especially a seed lying dormant beneath snow. Yellow is the initial light and warmth of sunshine upon the seed, representing both nourishment and knowledge. Occasionally the yellow belt is metallic gold.
Orange represents the rising sun, shining fully upon the earth and coaxing the first blossoms of spring from the earth. In the student's evolution, orange indicates the opening of his mind, awareness and maturation. Green is the seed brought to fruition and its subsequent shoot growing in strength, size and character. A student with a green belt is in the process of strengthening and refining previously learned technique.
Blue is the sky that the growing plant now points toward, and purple is the altering sky of dawn. Blue and purple are intermediate levels, but are higher ranks than the previous four colors. The blue belt student receives new knowledge about the art of karate, which encourages his mind and body to continue growing, while the purple belt student prepares to enter the advanced state of his training.
Brown, red and black are the highest-ranking karate belt colors. Brown signifies the maturing student, red is the dangerous heat of the sun, and black is the shadow beyond the sun, or the new knowledge a student must seek to continue his evolution and understanding.