APRIL 27 – – OUR 29th BENEFIT TOURNAMET AT HACKETTSTOWN HIGH SCHOOL – – register early and save $$$$$

MAY 3 – – MASTER ERNIE TEMPLE, 10th Degree Black Belt, will be conducting seminars at our dojo.  The seminars for children and adults are supported by the American Isshinryu group.  Each seminar will be based upon enhancing movement skills that will help students with self defense and sparring abilities.

The cost for AI members is $20.00 and for non members is $45.00, which includes a life-time membership ($35).

The children’s seminar will be from 1 PM to 2 PM.

The adult seminar will be from 2:15 to 3:30 PM.

Other than reduced costs for area seminars, students have the opportunity to attend events hosted by member dojos at a reduced rate.  Quarterly newsletters are also distributed to members.  The cost of the membership may be recovered in a short time.

CONGRATULATION to the following students who earned recent promotions:  Emily Huryk, Kimberly Curcio –Junior Yellow BeltLuke Huryk, Izzy Donica and Aryan Motyala – Junior Orange Belt  Alexis D’Ambly, Junior Green Belt

A Short History of the Ranking Systems Used in Karate Today   

Portions of an article by Shihan Juan Buruchaga

Originally, there was no ranking system or uniform used in the art of karate in Okinawa. If in fact rank was established, it was most likely given through the presentation of scrolls.  It was a customary act in the Japanese koryu ju-jutsu schools for these scrolls to be given and each would be inscribed with the “secrets” of the master instructor/ and the style. Some karate styles may very well have adopted this method of designating the ranking member or members of a dojo.

When Gichin Funakoshi traveled to Japan to demonstrate his art of karate in 1917, it was inevitable that he would  make contact with  the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano. In 1922, when Funakoshi returned to Japan, he would soon realize just how much he and Kano had in common and the two quickly became close friends. Both Funakoshi and Kano were school teachers, both studied the martial arts and both were interested in promoting their arts to the Japanese public. Being educators, there is no doubt that both of these men understood the importance of systematic training as well as the importance of using a reward system in order to produce the greatest results in their students. On April 12, 1924, Funakoshi would adopt Kano’s Yudansha ranking system when he awarded the first sho-dan ranks to Tokuda, Otsuka, Akiba, Shimizu, Hirose, Gima, and Kasuya . The adoption of the kyu/dan system and the adoption of a standard karate-gi (uniform) which  was modified and based on the judogi were 2 of the 6 conditions which the Dai-Nippon Butokukai (Governing Martial Arts Authority) required before recognizing karate as a “Legitimate” martial art.

Many styles of karate, especially Japanese styles will make use of horizontal stripes on one end of the black belt to designate the level of the Yudansha grade holder. These stripes are normally 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and will totally encircle the belt.

Yon-dan & Go-dan:

Some systems will identify 4th & 5th Degree Black Belt grade holders by the wearing of a Black Belt with wide red sections approximately 5 to 6 inches apart on the belt. The red/black stripes or blocks will run the entire length of the belt from tip to tip as black, red, black, red, etc,.

Yon-dan, Go-dan and Roku-dan:

Some systems will identify 4th, 5th or 6th Degree Black Belt grade holders by the wearing of a belt that is red and black. The color stripes on these belts will run the entire “vertical” length of the belt from tip to tip and in this case either the red or black may be worn facing up to designate the rank of 4th,5th or 6th dan and then when the student advances to the next level in rank the belt is worn with the opposite side facing up. This belt will may also be solid black when totally flipped over which allows the student of change their colored belt to solid black simply by turning the belt over.

Some systems will identify 6th, 7th & 8th Degree Black Belt by the wearing of a Red & White Belt with each striped section approximately 4 to 8  inches in length.  These Red/White stripes or blocks  will run the entire length of the belt from tip to tip as white, red, white, red, etc,.  Some organizations will make use of a striped belt as described in the paragraph above except that the red sectioned area is instead, black. These black/white, black/white sections will run the entire length of the belt from tip to tip. When this type of belt is used it generally designated and identifies the wearer between the ranks of Go-dan (5th Degree Black Belt) to Hachi-dan (8th Degree Black Belts.) This belt is worn by some karate organizations, but more often by Jujutsu or Aikijujutsu systems.  Whether the white/red or white/black sectioned belts begin at the tip of the belt with red or black and move to white or begin with white and move to red or black is inconsequential.

1.    Mudansha: (Kyu-Grade) Term used to describe those students below the grade of Black Belt.

2.    Yudansha:  (Dan-Grade) Term used to describe those students who have acquired the rank of Black Belt.

1.     Sensei: – “Teacher or One who has gone before”: This title is by far the most often used title in karate and generally refers to someone of Yon-Dan level (4th Degree Black Belt.) Many senior instructors including Hanshi Masami Tsuruoka, will state that this is the most honorable title that a student can use when referring to the senior as their teacher. The title Sensei implies a close bond between the student and teacher’s relationship.

2.    Shihan: – “Master or Expert Teacher”:  It is important to understand that the meaning Master as used in the martial  arts is someone who has mastered the basic and advanced understandings {Principles} of a particular style or system, thus the title Shihan means someone who has mastered the basic and advanced techniques as well as the principles, concepts, and theory of their respective style of karate. The title Shihan does not mean that this person has stopped learning because they know all of the answers. On the contrary, they are considered to be the most serious and dedicated students in any style of martial arts. The title Shihan is generally considered to be an organizational title alone and has little meaning (May not be recognized) outside of the holder’s style or organization.

3.    Doshi: – “Leading Teacher”: Title sometimes used before Renshi

4.    Renshi: = “Senior Expert Teacher”: This is the first of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of rank, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Go-Dan.

5.    Tasshi or Tesshi: – “Apprentice Master Teacher”: This title was originally the title used instead of Kyoshi. It is now sometimes used between the levels of Renshi and Kyoshi by the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai.

6.    Kyoshi: – “Master Teacher, Teacher of Teachers”: This is the second of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of the ranking system, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Roku-dan and in most cases Shichi-dan).

7.    Hanshi: – “Senior Master Teacher”: This is the third and highest of the three generally (Most Often) used teacher titles. Although this title is independent of the ranking system, it is seldom given to anyone below the rank of Hachi-Dan (8th Degree Black Belt )

Ren =  Trainer of the Way – Kyo = Teacher of the Way  – Han = Model of the Way

Uchi Deshi: – A personal student who lives and trains with the Master of a martial art.

Kohai: – A title used to refer to one who is lower in rank than oneself. The opposite of Sempai

Sempai: – A title used to refer to one who is higher in rank than oneself. The opposite of Kohai.

Kancho: – A title sometimes given to the head of a dojo or organization. This title is independent of any rank, but in most cases this person will be a very senior student of the arts. In most cases the person holding this title will be the highest ranking instructor of a specific Ryu-Ha or Kai-Ha.

Soke: – Founder of a system or style. This title may also be used by the successor of the founder of a style or system. This person will be a Ju-Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) in most all cases.

Shoshu:  –  The title used to designate a Master of a particular art.

Saiko Shihan or Shihan-Dai:  This title refers to the person who has been designated as the Senior or Head Shihan. Shihan-Dai is sometimes issued prior to the recipient receiving the full Shihan title and therefore in this situation it would be considered a lesser or lower title than the title of Shihan itself.

O-Sensei or Dai Sensei:  This title means Great or Greatest Teacher, Highest Respected Teacher. This title is spoken by students in honorable reference to the traditional martial arts founder.

Posted in Dojo Newsletter.