The History of this belt comes from the Tracy's Kenpo Karate home page
This page contains a brief history of the Orange Belt that dates to 1962, when the Tracy brothers introduced Nanakyu/Shichikyu (7th Kyu) as the first earned rank in Kenpo Karate.
The Orange Belt was introduced to the martial arts in 1962, when the Tracy brothers created (7th Kyu) in Kenpo. Prior to that time, the first earned rank in Kenpo Karate was Gokyu (5th Kyu). Gokyu required 63 techniques and the rank was represented by a half inch brown tip on the ends of the white belt. However, the Tracy brothers were the only ones who actually "required" a specific number of techniques for any Kyu rank below Nikyu (2nd brown), as Ed Parker often awarded one and two brown tips to students who knew fewer than 30 techniques, and even awarded Sankyu (3rd brown) to students who knew less than the 63 techniques that were supposed to be required for one brown tip. When the Tracy brothers opened their own Kenpo Karate school in 1962, they did away with the "brown tips" and introduced two new Kyu ranks. Orange Belt became the first earned belt and required 40 techniques. This was later changed to 30 techniques when Yellow belt was introduced in 1966. Orange belt established an intermediate rank what was previously the equivalent of one brown tip.
The new Kenpo Karate color belt system was not readily accepted by the Ed Parker, as he preferred to have a less strict ranking system. But he did add the two new Kyu ranks to his system and gave two more brown tips for his white belt ranks, even though there was no set standard for each brown tip, and gave Shichikyu as the name for 7th Kyu. However, while shish means seven in Japanese, it also denotes death, and the Japanese use Nanakyu in its place. In 1967, Ed Parker finally adopted the Tracy belt requirements along with the Tracy color belt system. Professor William K. S. Chow and most of Kenpo Karate and Kempo Karate began using the Tracy color belt system a few years later.
The 30 Orange Belt techniques are the basics for beginning Kenpo, and are used as an exercise for physical conditioning. While Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate requires 24 techniques. Many of the orange belt moves have been adopted by aerobics, and Orange Belt techniques are the building block for confidence and self-esteem.