In my recent look at the Kataaro deluxe brushed cotton black belt, I mentioned that I had old and new Warrior Silver black belts in hand. The old Warrior Silvers, dating back to almost 20 years ago, represented remarkable value for money; they cost only slightly more than typical belts, but were of far superior quality. The new Warrior Silvers are from around 7 years ago, and are fair quality belts … but a clear step behind the old Warrior Silvers, in my view. Time to take a look, using my Nikon D70S and Nikkor AF-S 18–70 mm f/3.5–4.5 DX.
Old and new Warrior Silver belts
Below we can see the old Warrior Silver belt on the top and the new Warrior Silver belt on the bottom. The lines of stitching on both are perfectly serviceable, but note how evenly spaced the older belt’s lines are. The newer belt has noticeably tighter lines in the middle and lower part of the belt, but uneven lines near the upper part of the belt.
Taking a look at the ends of the belts, the older belt on the left is finished more neatly than the newer belt on the right. The older belt’s lines of stitching come right up to the end of the belt, while the newer belt uses a different pattern. Interestingly, the newer belts lines of stitching (along the length of the belt) are more even here at the ends, compared to the middle (as shown in the photograph above).
What is not apparent from these pictures is that the newer belt is noticeably thicker than the older belt. It will be a matter of personal taste, but the newer belt feels more substantial than the older one.
Old Warrior Silver and new Warrior Meijin belts
Years ago, Warrior’s Gold line of products was their premium line, and their Silver line was one step down (but still of better quality than average). Nowadays, as far as I can see, Warrior’s Meijin line is their premium line, and they seem to be phasing their Silver line out in favour of Warrior products with no separate line noted, so we have ‘Warrior Meijin’ and ‘Warrior’ lines.
Below we have the old Warrior Silver belt at the top and one of the new Warrior Meijin belts at the bottom. The Warrior Meijin belt is slightly wider than the older belt; 4.5 cm as compared to 4 cm. For this particular sample of the Warrior Meijin line, most of the lines of stitching are densely packed towards the centre of the belt, with a couple of lines spaced somewhat further out at the edges of the belt.
Taking a look at the ends, the Warrior Meijin belt on the right seems to be finished almost as well as the old Warrior Silver belt on the left. The dense cluster of stitching towards the centre of the belt have continued through to the ends, so the pattern is at least consistent.
The Warrior Meijin belt is not quite as thick as the new Warrior Silver belt, but feels much more substantial in hand than the old Warrior Silver Belt. It feels like it has stiffer and denser core material than both of the Warrior Silvers, but manages to remain almost as thin as the old Warrior Silver.
All three of these belts are good quality belts, but given the close examination side-by-side, I remain impressed by the level of workmanship that went into the old Warrior Silver belts. The visual differences I have noted will not be easily visible to most observers with the belts in normal use, and I expect the untrained observer would not see any differences at all. The tactile differences, on the other hand, would be picked up by anyone who has worn or handled even a few martial art belts. In practice, I suspect the old Warrior Silver belts (the most pliable of the three types I have looked at above) would hold a knot the best, but the others would probably be no different after a ‘breaking in’ period.
Practically speaking, most martial artists will not need to worry about differences in appearance or feeling; any good quality belt should suffice for many years of training. But for those who may be responsible for providing belts to others, it makes sense to do a bit of investigation, at least be aware of what is available, and make a choice from there. After all, black belt ranking is a high honour, and so the decision on which actual belt (product) to buy is something that deserves some care.