March 2010: Black Belt Titles Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi.

A number of people have asked about the titles black belts and instructors receive as they train.  At each level of training becomes more challenging physically as well as mentally.  The black belt should be an active part of a recognized school and must also train diligently on his or her own.  Each of the titles should be awarded, as ranks are, by a qualified instructor of the appropriate rank, not taken as people often do.

Renshi – 5th  DEGREE BLACK BELT [12 to 16 years after 1st Dan] & 6th  DEGREE BLACK BELT [5 years after 5th  Dan] The  Renshi  title indicates a “polished instructor”  and may be awarded by an instructor who is earned the title of Kyoshi.

At times an instructor may have a student who is close in rank.  For example a 6th Dan may have a student who is a 5th Dan.  In some cases the use of the term, Renshi, may confuse lower rank students as to who is the higher ranking black belt.  At the rank of 6th Dan another term may be awarded to help clarify this situation.  Shihan is a Japanese term, often used in Japanese martial arts as an honorific title for senior instructors. The term is frequently used interchangeably with English terms such as “senior instructor”.

Various martial arts organizations have different requirements for the usage of the title, but in general it is a high title, 6th dan or above, that takes many years to achieve.  The title, like other advanced titles (Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi) must be  awarded by someone who is at least a 7th or 8th Dan and who has been awarded the title of Kyoshi.  It is generally distinct from the black belt ranking system and in schools which are members of my association of dojos, the idividual must be a teacher of his or her own school and have promoted people to at least the rank of Renshi.

Kyoshi – 7th DEGREE BLACK BELT  [5 years after 6th Dan] & 8th DEGREE BLACK BELT [5 years after7th Dan] and should be at least 50+ years of age] The “Kyo” in Kyoshi means “professor” or “philosophy”. Therefore, Kyoshi equals a “professor” capable of teaching the philosophy of the martial arts.  An instructor who has earned the title of Kyoshi should award this title by a person who has earned the title of Hanshi and this person should still be active in a dojo and also train diligently on his or her own.

Hanshi – 9th DEGREE BLACK BELT  & 10th DEGREE BLACK BELT   The “Han” in Hanshi means “example, model” and indicates “a teacher that can serve as an ideal model for others”, or a “senior master”.  This is a very special title representing the highest levels of martial arts, a teacher of other teachers and demonstrates personal growth and an in depth understanding of the style.

The 9th degree should have at least 40 consistent adult years of diligent training in Isshin-ryu Karate in the dojo and continued study on his or her own.  Beyond this the individual should be respected by his or her peers and a valued part of the martial art’s community.

The 10th degree is reserved traditionally for the founder of the style.  The rank, title and responsibilities inherent in the designation may be handed down from the founder to an heir.  In Isshin-ryu Karate Tatsuo Shimabuku named his son Kichiro to the heir to his style.  Also, in the Isshin-ryu style of karate there are numerous subgroups (IWKA, IIKA, AOKA, KIAI, OIKKA, and a number of other organizations) that have developed after the death of Tatsuo Shimabuku.  These groups each have a 10th degree black belt at the head of the organization

March, 2010: Announcements

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Joseph Marotta, Natalie Montone and Kristyn Wheeler for giving of their time Sunday, February 21st to help present a demonstration to the Blue and Gold Award Ceremony held at Mountain Lake Fire House.  The chance to demonstrate the good that is done through our dojo, which may help it grow, is appreciated.

Sensei Doug King’s sparring tournament is Sunday, March 14, 2010 at Newton H.S.

Our 25th Benefit Karate Tournament is Sunday, April 25th   at Hackettstown High School.  Plan to help or compete.

Traditional Karate Insights

It is our belief that children and adults need structure in their lives and a strong support system of family, friends and mentors to encourage and enable them.  Our goal is to help define this structure in a way that provides our younger students with well-defined guidelines, equipping them morally, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually for the everyday challenges of growing up.
Having structure allows the child to focus on improving themselves within acceptable guidelines, reaping the rewards of good behavior and understanding the consequences of inappropriate conduct.  Structure provides a foundation for growth allowing children to become strong, self-disciplined, self-confident and self-reliant as they become young adults. We have been very successful in helping children become responsible young adults, and this is only achieved with your help and support.

We ask you to support our teaching when it comes to consistency. Only when an individual fully applies himself or herself to a particular pursuit, can he or she reap all the benefits and rewards it offers.

  1. We ask our students to be consistent with training, often two days a week is best because it gives the student time to practice in the dojo and on his or her own. Inconsistent attendance sometimes causes a child to feel embarrassed when he or she cannot remember the skills that are being learned. Many children will want to give up rather than be embarrassed in any way.
  2. When a child says “I don’t want to do this anymore”, we do not simply say “okay.” We believe we are not helping the child by doing this. We will quickly try to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes, the only issue is a lack of confidence, which can easily be overcome. We ask the parent to help support us in this way as well.
  3. We realize that karate is not a quick fix. If we do not see immediate improvement, we do not give up. We are patient. It is the reinforcement of the all the positive character traits over time as well as the child’s gradual physical and emotional development that builds him or her into leaders as young adults.
  4. We do not criticize a child or compare them to others in the school. Growth in the Martial Arts comes at different times and at a different pace for each individual. Isshin-ryu becomes a way of life.
  5. We ask that parents inform us of changes in their children, positive or negative, as they occur so that we can respond accordingly. We try hard never to be in conflict with any of your family values or teachings.

We take our role as instructors, mentors and an extended family support group, very seriously. Let us know how we are doing and please give us suggestions on how to improve our service to you and your child.

What is maxalt

Congratulations to the Isshin-ryu School of Karate place winners at the Golden Rule tournament, 2/14/2010 at Warren Hills Regional High School, Washington, NJ.
ISK Competitors

  • Taryn Faccenda
  • Nicholas Curcio
  • Riley Kamm
  • Jake Brader

In Memory of Rober Poyer, Jr.

The dojo has lost a third friend during recent months with the passing of Robert L. Poyer, Jr. He was born, May 21, 1950 and died January 4, 2010, attempting to save his dog, which fell through the ice at Swazey Mill Park. He was a person who passionately believed in the Constitution of the United States and who also gave generously to charities. He owned the Hackettstown Auto Parts, numerous businesses, was a first-degree black belt at the Isshin-ryu School of Karate and was an aerobatic pilot who built two experimental biplanes.

February, 2010: THOUGHT, SUCCESS, & REALITY

Success in sight....
Creative Commons License photo credit: seeveeaar


Sterling W. Sill said: “Our future success will be determined by what we presently think.  Physically we become what we eat, but mentally, spiritually, socially, and morally, we become what we think.  Napoleon Hill wrote a great book, ‘Think and Grow Rich’; we can also think and grow wise.  We can think and grow faithful.  Being a great thinker does not require us to think only original thoughts.  All of the greatest thoughts about love, beauty, faith, kindness, and success have already been thought again and again.  As we rerun them through our own minds, they will produce an increasing rate of return.”

The thoughts that pass through the mind are responsible for everything that happens in life.   As the thoughts are, so is one’s life.  To make changes in life it is necessary to change old thinking and replace it by positive thought and insight.  Using the power of thoughts effectively can be termed “practical daydreaming”.  The power of thought is creative. It is possible to train and strengthen it.  Visualize a perfect scene of whatever you want to accomplish.  Put as much detail and imagery into the mental image.  Revisit these mental images often and accept the positive outcome and they will come true because the mind does not know what is imaginary or real.  It only knows what we think and believe.  Thoughts that pass through the subconscious mind influence actions in accordance with these thoughts.

Training individually and in the dojo during class enhances our ability to think, develop positive thoughts and capabilities.  As training is started the student is often hesitant because what is being taught is foreign and new.  Fundamental skills are taught and practiced in each class.  This repetition of foundation skills is not unique to traditional karate training but it has been lost in many dojos, schools and the work place because the emphasis today is placed on being fast without much emphasis on proper technique; getting the product done to make money is more important.  With the proper foundation, the advancement through higher skills is found to be less stressful and combination of skills is also understood with better insight.  We must first learn the movements and the proper direction in which the kata or sparring drill is done.  Then breathing correctly, inhaling while in transition and exhaling while blocking or attacking, is necessary for power to eventually be developed.  Next an added component to breathing is the Kiai and methods to tighten the body, adding strength and power to the techniques and focus of power at the appropriate times.  As understanding of the possible meanings for each move (bunkai) and combination of moves is developed, timing is also heightened so the moves in kata may be used in kumite and self defense applications.

As is evident in this brief thought, proper traditional karate training may last a lifetime and still be challenging and exciting.  If one strives to understand each aspect of the art, individual successes will be experienced.  These successes will also transfer into daily life, which is an added benefit to proper training.