I came across this youtube video. Being a beginner in Aikido I was wondering, is this the traditional way of tying your belt? Are there other ways to do it? Does it matter how you tie it?
With Japanese forms, you'll find a greater emphasis placed on even the small things. That said, the method demonstrated to tie the aikido belt in that video is the same way I've been instructed to tie my belt in karate.
The benefits of that method are:
- Presentation: the belt lays flat and looks neat
- Lack of distraction: because the belt stays tight, you aren't catching your hand on it, or tugging at it during class
That said, the method shown seems to be the correct way of tying a belt who's sole purpose is to display rank. This is the same for aikido, judo, taekwando, etc. I've seen students from other schools who just put the belt on any way they can. Either the ends of the belt hang so far down they trip on it (not wrapping it enough), or the wraps don't lay flat and it looks messy. Any time you are in a competition where you are being judged, the way you present yourself shows the way you approach your training. If you look haphazard, often the results of the forms you demonstrate echo that presentation.
There's another type of belt (or obi) that is used with traditional sword arts where you use a hakama and gi. The obi for sword arts functions to hold the saya (scabard), and has no purpose related to displaying rank. There are multiple correct ways to tie an obi that goes with the hakama.
For Aikido I was taught the same method as in the video, except that I start with the end hanging to the left instead of the right. I was told this is so rolling is more comfortable. The X tying version (starting with the middle of the belt on your stomach and wrapping around both directions simotaneously) is supposedly used by martial arts that don't do a lot of rolls (like Karate). All the places I've ever trained at Aikido have tied their belt with the "flat back" version.
When I took Kenpo the instructor said I should start with the end hanging to my right (as shown in the video). So I had to learn how to tie my belt in the opposite direction of what I was already accustomed to. My friends who did Taikwondo / Karate at other places usually tied their belt in the X fashion.
This website has an interesting division of belt tying. For the colored belt he shows the X version (starting from the middle of his stomach). For the black belt with name and school he shows the flat back version.
This one is pretty much what I see Shihans and high ranks do:
Ask your Sensei or an advanced student. I've learned Aikido in a number of different schools (often I have find a new school if I get laid off at work and have to move). Some schools want it one way. Others, another. I is the same with techniques. Your dojo will have a specific way of doing things with a level of importance attached to each practice.