The All Japan Judo Federation has announced that it will be abolishing the use of the white-striped black belt for female fighters and instead will adhere to international standards of using the entirely black belts for any gender.
In Judo, it has been the practice of female judokas to wear black belts with a white stripe, while male judokas sported pure-black belts.
The other main governing body for the sport, the Switzerland-based International Judo Federation, decided to end the practice in 1999 after ruling it as discriminatory. Meanwhile, All Japan Judo Federation chose to continue with the traditional female belt stripe for many years.
However, the announcement of the Japanese organization’s board of directors on Monday would finally bring the use of the white-striped belts to an end. According to RocketNews24, both male and female judokas will both be sporting black belts in succeeding competitions.
While there has been no official explanation for the decision, observers attribute the change to the performance of the Japanese women’s Olympic martial arts teams in competitions. Since women’s judo became an Olympic event in 1992, Japan’s female team has won 32 medals — a couple more than 30 medals men have won in the same time. In addition to their success, the female Japanese athletes have also become celebrities themselves as they have been prominently covered by the national media lately.
Regardless of the reason, such development is a welcome change in promoting equality in Japanese modern society.