Belts in a Beltless System


Although traditionally Chinese martial arts have no belts, many systems in the West, including Mulan Fa Chuan have utilized them and this has created some confusion as to what our belts mean. Belts in Mulan do not signify a rank. Although the Western mind likes to see things in a linear or upward fashion, this kind of thinking has no place in Mulan Fa Chuan and although the student builds on knowledge already acquired as they move from belt to belt, the training in each belt can stand on its own and as its own Martial Art. We are not climbing a ladder to the top, there is no top, we simply begin a new path of training. "Graduating" to a new belt is just as much about putting something down as picking something up. We begin another journey that brings us again to a new beginning.

The Structure of MFC art is based on the sides of the Early Heaven Bagua as pictured above. Which side is superior? None of them of course. The Bagua is about change, not about climbing to an "upper" level. What a belt does is tell the Sifu what a student is training in, not where they are in their training. The art was made this way to purposely. 

The belts of Mulan Fa Chuan are a tool for teachers. Students should understand the meaning of belts and know they are not climbing a ladder but journeying to a place which returns them to a beginning. Like water we return again and again to the lowest point. 

Jia Sifu


(translation by Mai)