Uke Obi

A ritual for a judo belt

Uke Obi is a ritual designed around a black judo belt. But what exactly is a ritual and why would you design one for a black belt? As described by Pierre Levy: “Our lives are a collection of rituals. The way we wake up, the way we leave or enter our home, the way we prepare our suitcase before going on a trip are just simple examples of the many rituals each of us have constructed and that structure our everyday lives. These rituals are not rigid procedures, but a seemingly established series of activities from which experiential meaning emerges, and by which personal values are expressed.” [1]. Rituals can be seen as a holy grail of interaction, since we can’t imagine having to live without that ritual which is 100% yours. Therefore, this project looked into how these elements could be used to design a ritual.

For most judokas in the Netherlands, when they start with judo, their goal is to one day achieve the black belt. On the one hand, the black belt is a goal for many judokas and, on the other hand, indicates a new start (you are officially starting the dan trajectory instead of the kyu trajectory), it felt weird that the belt was just thrown in a bag, not being taken care of. Therefore, Uke Obi consists of a wooden block, made from Mahogany and American Oak, on which you can store your belt. In order to store your belt, the user has to use the wooden clip to roll up the belt. A ritual which requires practice and slightly differs for each person. In order to protect the block, a case was designed and embroidered. Only the edges contain embroidery, in order to leave the rest up to the imagination. Besides the ritual, a notation system inspired by Japanese calligraphy can be seen in the video. This notation system would make it possible to see how long each part of the ritual lasts, the force with which it is performed, and the importance of the action. The design of Uke Obi was inspired by Japanese design and the philosophy of Wabi Sabi, since both the belt and the block will become more beautiful through tearing and age. This was combined with our Western ideals of beauty, through the geometrical design.

  • Team Selim Haase | Lela Haase | Bernice d'Anjou | Bianca Serban | Ferdi Zwaan | Jasmijn de Vries Lisa de Vries | Jolien ter Brugge | Galina Petrova | Rosa van Koningsbruggen
  • [1] Lévy, P. D. (unkown). Composing everyday rituals. Retrieved on July 16th 2019, from