Basic Judo Grip

The following shows the basic Judo Grip with left hand on top grip and right hand on top grip.

basic_judo_grip.jpg

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Ed Parker’s Karate Creed

“I come to you  with only Karate,  empty hands. 
I have no weapons, but should I be forced 
to defend myself, my principles or my honour; 
should it be a matter of life or death, 
of right or wrong; 
Then here are my weapons, 
Karate, my empty hands.”
– Ed Parker

The above Creed has become an accepted Code for many Martial Artists.  Authored by Ed Parker in March of 1957, it denotes the Martial Artist’s way of life in today’s environment.  Time inevitably alters attitudes and convictions.  Therefore, in reanalyzing the Creed, the use of the words right or wrong leaves no margin for clemency, but to defend one’s self.  A matter of life or death means strict adherence to survival in protecting loved ones or self even if it means death to the adversary should no alternative be left.  Principles must be upheld or protected, for without them the very core and soul of man is valueless.  Honor motivates a Martial Artist to action because it gives him dignity.  Empty hands (as well as other body weapons) are the substitutes that a Martial Artist uses in place of man made weapons to sustain his honor.  Discipline developed through training without weapons implants justice and discretion when applying the Martial Arts.  Thus the above Creed acts as a regulatory guide in aiding the Martial Artists in developing a keen sense of justice.

Ed Parker – Infinite Insights Into Kenpo, Volume 1 page iv
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Belt Ranks

belts

Beginning students always ask me how many belts they have to go through until they reach black belt. The above 10 level colour belt rankings are used at Shi Ryu Kai dojo. Other schools of Karate may have fewer levels or something similar or even more levels than what is illustrated in the above diagram.

Instead of split-coloured belts like our dojo uses, some karate schools may use a strip of electrical tape on one end of the belt to denote a higher level of that coloured kyu belt. Some martial arts supply companies make a belt with a solid black band in the center of the belt along the width of the coloured belt which some karate schools may use to denote a higher level of that coloured kyu belt.

 

The explanatory levels, for example: Pre-Intermediate, Advanced  Pre-intermediate and so on, are my own ideas of explaining the levels. Other karate schools may use other terms to explain the various levels.

The Karate belt, known as obi, is more than just a part of the Karate uniform. The Karate belt grading system is a unique way to identify skill level among Karateka. Karate students move up through the levels of karate by taking examinations.

Karate belts are an adaptation of the Kyu / Dan rank system the originated with Kodokan Judo, whose founder, Kano Jigoro, had the idea to use different colors of belts (originally white ,brown and black belts) to designate rank depending on the level of training. Mikonosuke (Mikinosuke) Kawaishi was a master of Japanese Judo and Jujutsu, who led the development of Judo in France and much of Europe. He is responsible for introducing the belt colors yellow, orange, green and blue to further differentiate beginner, intermediate and advanced practitioners. The coloured belt system soon became a grading standard used around most of the world by other martial arts systems. 

While there are no universal rules that govern which karate belt colours equal which step-up levels, each individual martial arts organization has their own order for colour belt advancement. Typically the white belt is assigned to beginners who have to pass each level until they have reach the coveted black belt.

Karate students usually get a rank number along with their belts. Most Japanese Karate styles use this or a similar ranking system: 10th to 1st  Kyu and then 1st to 10th Dan.

Kyu denotes ranking below Black Belt.  A beginner would be rank 10 (10th Kyu) and someone about to test for their black belt would be rank 1 (1st Kyu).

Dan means that a student has reached Black Belt status. The Kyu student that passes to black belt would be 1st Dan or Shodan, while the founder of the Karate style would be 10th Dan.

Note In the current Shorinjiryu styles derived from Kaiso Histaka’s teachings, the rank of Ju-dan tenth Dan was reserved in memory of Kaiso Masayoshi Kori Hisataka, the founder of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo. Only in 2017, did his son, Masayuki Kukan Hisataka, assume the rank of tenth Dan. This was probably due to the proliferance of other ninth Dans in the various organizations of Shorinjiryu.   

All of the karate belts have a different set of corresponding requirements and practice. During the initial lessons, students have to practice stances, balance and coordination and perform basic techniques to move on to a new belt-color. In the upper levels, speed and power are added, which the student must learn in order to move upward in rank.

The awarding of levels of Karate belts allows the student to set goals for themselves, cumulating with a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

A common stereotype belief that needs to be clarified is the “black belt” is a “master”. In reality, a black belt indicates the wearer is competent in a style’s basic techniques. A  good intuitive analogy would be a 1st Dan Black Belt is equivalent to a college/university Bachelor’s Degree. The 1st Dan black belt is seen not so much as an end, but rather as a beginning, with additional study leading to advanced learning.

Dispelling an Urban Legend 

 

One common “legend” concerning the tradition of coloured belts claims that early martial artists began their training with a white belt, which eventually became black from years of sweat stains, dirt, and blood. 

There is no real evidence for this story. Given the standard of cleanliness common in the traditional Judo or Karate dojo and within Japanese society, a student arriving with a bloodied or dirty uniform would probably not have been allowed to train. 

Another story goes that the belt should not be washed and by doing so, one would “wash away the knowledge”. This is of course ridiculous, knowledge resides in your brain not in a piece of cloth wrapped around your waist. This is all related to the “dirty belt” myth. 

I was reading an article about the psychology of colours and thought about the relationship to our system of coloured belts. Note,.. this is not an official explanation of the relationship of the colour belts used in Karate, but it certainly seems to fit the philosophy associated with each level.

 

KYU COLOUR SIGNIFICANCE
10 White Purity or beginning with a clean slate. A white belt student is a beginner searching for knowledge. The white belt student is pure, untainted with little or no knowledge of the undertaking ahead. 

9

White/Yellow

8

Yellow

Like the energy of a bright sunny day, shines upon the yellow belt student giving his first ray of knowledge, opening his mind

7

Yellow/Orange

6

Orange
Like the growing power of the sun, orange offers a more thoughtful contol. Curiosity is a driving characteristic of orange, and with it comes exploration of new things. 

5

Orange/Green

4

Green
Green signifies the powerful energies of nature, growth, desire to expand or increase. Balance and a sense of order are found in the color green. Change and transformation is necessary for growth, and so this ability to sustain changes is also a part of the energy of green.

3

Green/Brown

2

Brown
Brown represents the ripening maturing and harvesting process. A brown belt is an advanced student whose techniques are beginning to mature, and he is beginning to understand the fruits of his hard work and becomes rooted in a solid foundation.  

1

Brown/Black

Shodan

Black
Black signifies the darkness beyond the Sun. Like it used to say on Star Trek: “Space.. The final frontier…”, a black belt seeks new, more profound knowledge of the Art in a never-ending process of personal growth and knowledge.

Dojo Hyogo – Dojo Motto

The motto of Shorinjiryu karatedo is‘ Doku Ji Gyo Sei Ki ‘ ,

In English: “Spiritual development of individuality in mind and body” 

In French : “Développement spirituel de l’individualité mentale et physique “

The Shorinjiryu motto was coined by Kaiso Masayoshi Kori Hisataka (1907-1988), Kaiso meaning founder, and expresses his view that individuality is an important trait developed in a karateka.

Hanshi Shunji Watanabe explained the meaning of the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo motto, from Kaiso Hisataka as the following: “Shorinjiryu karateka are like trees in a forest. All the trees have common characteristics, but no one tree is the same as another. In the same way, Shorinjiryu karateka share common techniques, philosophies, and knowledge, but no practitioner is identical to another”.

It is from this comparison that we can understand how each of us simultaneously learns from and enhances Shorinjiryu karatedo according to our individuality.

Although the base of karate should be consistent, each practitioner will emphasise their own strengths and account for their limitations.

This motto is not a license for individuals to change forms or methods at their own discretion.

At the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo honbu dojo (headquarters) in the Waseda area in Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo, Japan,  Kaiso Hisataka painted the motto in kanji on a large wooden board which remained on proud display at the front of the dojo since 1955 until recent renovations to the dojo in 2011.

Dojo Kun

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DOJO KUN

(The School Principles of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo) 

1- Maintain propriety, etiquette, dignity, and grace.

2- Gain self-understanding by tasting the true meaning of combat.

3- Search for pure principals of truth, justice, and beauty.

4- Exercise positive personality, that is to say – confidence, courage, and determination.

5- Always seek to develop the character further aiming towards perfection and complete harmony with creation.

The dojo kun is the five statements which are said at the end of the training session. They are like mottoes or declarations. They are beliefs. They are model ideals to aspire to. Some believe that they focus the individual to be a whole person, that they enhance the individual to become more than what he seems. Others may imply that the dojo kun is to teach you how to become the “ideal” karate person.

What typically happens is that at the end of the class the students line up in order of rank behind the teacher facing the front where the dojo kun hangs. The head student says, “seiza”, which in English means “sit in seiza”. “Seiza” is sitting on your knees with your feet under your backside. Some teachers tell the students that one big toe ought to be under the other big toe. The knees should be placed so that two fists side by side can fit between. Otherwise, if the knees are too close together, the seiza position looks too sissified. The head student then chants out each statement of the dojo kun and the students repeat each statement in chorus. After the last statement the head student says “mokuso” and everyone closes their eyes in concentration.When the moment of pause is finished the head student says, “mokuso yame”, which means “meditation finished”, and then “Sensei ni rei”, which means “bow to the teachers”. The students bow from the seiza position to the front line of insructors, and the teachers retirn the bow to the students.

The teachers turn to face the shomen and the head student then says, “Shomen ni rei”, which means “bow to the place of honour” and the teachers and student bow to the front of the classwhere there are pictures of the founder, flags, etc,..The teachers turn to face the students and the head student then says, “Otagai ni rei”, which means “bow to each other. The teachers and students bow to each other.It’s a nice finish to a tough workout. It quiets the spirit and calms the mind and maybe helps refocus the individual on why they go through this physical strain a few times a week.
The reason for chanting out the dojo kun in chorus has many purposes. It helps each person re-affirm the ideas and concepts of karate in their minds. It also may help develop the group as a whole, distinguishing them from others who do not train. This too is a nice feeling. It is one of camaraderie and collective dedication to a similar objective.

It is interesting to note, however, that the dojo kun is not always chanted out during each and every karate practice in dojos in Japan. The dojo kun is a set of principles and they are used to teach the philisophical foundations of this craft to youngsters. When there is an adult class training the dojo kun is not read aloud. Kids need instruction. Adults ought to know better.

Some karate folks feel that the dojo kun is holy writ, that we can’t talk about it, question it, discuss it, debate it, doubt it, or change it. But since the Holy Bible, the Koran, Buddhist Scriptures, are all open for discussion by scholars, theologians, holy men, and preachers; we should consider the dojo kun as equally fair game. So, let’s talk about it.

The dojo kun that we have in Japanese is a very earthy and common sense approach to what karate is and how it should serve humankind. Most of the dojo kun is associated with the individual’s identity. It encourages the individual to discover who they are.

It challenges the individual to remain truthful to what they know to be right and good. It pushes the individual to struggle from within to grow and to develop, to not hold back, and to discover secret talents and strengths within. It admonishes the individual to learn to live at peace with others.

And lastly, it tempers a rebellious spirit with calm thought and harnesses a powerful body with an equally powerful mind.