Andy Jeffries

Review: Embroidered black belts from BeltArtist.

Since I got my 1st Dan back in 1990, I’ve had a variety of belts. When I passed my black belt, my instructor gave me a lovely embroidered belt with my name in Korean on one end and Pan Taekwondo in Hanja (Chinese characters) on the other. Then I went through a period of just wearing a plain belt.

When I got my 5th Dan I discussed with Master Carl Lees (now unfortunately deceased) about getting embroidered belts for the club. We agreed that the belts would have our simplified club logo (the STC kicker) on one end with the club name in English and Korean, and the WTF logo on the other end, with Dan bars and the holder’s name in English and Korean (with a title if appropriate).

Our first supplier was Black Eagle. They produced an excellent quality belt at a very reasonable price, but after a year or two, they said that the gentleman who had been doing the belts for us wasn’t charging the right price and that the price would double.

We looked around for a replacement, but couldn’t find any reasonable and quality suppliers. One of my students knew an embroiderer who could do them at a reasonable price, even though she’d never done them before. We stayed with her for a few years, but then had a couple of quality issues (a belt came through with the wrong name on it, then in the next batch one of the belts had a font problem). An example of the quality is below. It’s not too bad, but the font is very thin and it seems the amount of thread used isn’t enough to give a nice crisp outline.

Market-embroidered belt

I had just received my 7th Dan, so decided it was probably time for a new belt, so I went looking around again. Club belts were going to stay the same (except we’d dropped the WTF logo as we align closer with Kukkiwon than WTF), but I also wanted a belt that is more common in Korea (no Dan bars, no English).

On my travels I’d heard of a company called “Karate Kid” doing really high quality work, but couldn’t find a current website for them in Google (and there are a lot of false positives when trying to search for that term, obviously). I came across a website for a company called AccentMAS, also known as The Belt Artist that seemed to specialise in embroidered black belts.

I had a number of friendly emails back and forth with Kate from AccentMAS and it turned out that “Karate Kid” was their old name. After describing what I wanted and paying the invoice, I sent over our logo for digitising. We agreed a price and Kate was really communicative in updating me on the progress of the order and sending me photos of embroidery samples as they were made.

When my belts arrived, the thing that jumped out at me was the quality of the embroidery, particularly compared to our recent embroidery lady but it also was much better than my old Black Eagle belt. It seems that they use more thread per item because they looked much more solid than previous embroideries.

I ordered my club belt in cotton and my Korea belt in satin. Having worn both for the past few months i have to say that both are exceptional belts. I love them both. I think the satin one looks a bit nicer, but even after a few months it still sticks out and doesn’t really hang nicely. I think it will over time, but maybe it takes years rather than months to soften up. The satin belt is this one:

BeltArtist satin belt

The cotton one was great from day one — it ties with a nice tight knot, hangs perfectly and the embroidery is really crisp. I wanted to give both materials a shot to see which I preferred and find it an easy decision to stick with cotton.

BeltArtist cotton belt

Having had previous belts, I also find it an easy decision that all future belts will be ordered through AccentMAS — I wish I’d found them years ago so all students would have received them.