The experience of bringing together other Gojuryu clans of both old and new friends and foes has added to my over all knowledge. Sure we all practice and do things our own way but it comes from the combined input of many influences. Some try to look at many things from many different directions and points of views (mostly trying to see things from other people’s point of view).
Attending Seminars Gasshuku
So I was recently at a karate Seminar. Not out of the norm considering I’m at some type of Martial Arts seminar almost every month of the year. I don’t speak perfect Japanese however I have a fairly good understanding of the basics and usually find a way to briefly chat up the guest instructor regarding the items that either I or the group need to polish. At this particular event, those same items which caught his attention caught my attention and were further obvious during the grading
Grade Rank & Titles Part 1
Long ago I started arranging this series, after having learned a quick lesson the hard way [I was, as you might call it, "reminded of my teachings"] about how and when speaking to or in reference to your seniors. In other words, I was smacked in the head.
References for Grade and Titles
In Japan, when you address someone formally [Keigo], you should always start with the family name first and then whatever honorific designation [title] succeeds. The correct context of speaking to your Sensei should be phrased as "Hirano Sensei, "Douglas Sensei" or “Kikuchi Sensei” or just “Sensei”. Only in Westernized countries has the mistake been made to call teachers “O'Sensei Brad”, "Shihan Victor", or “Soke Broc”. Another common ‘Western only’ mistake is adding the formal title grade of said instructor to their title. “Hanshi Dave”, “Kyoshi Richard” or “Renshi Dan” are incorrect and in Japan might be regarded as ignorant or even defiant. I know - you are not in Japan however if you are going to practice Japanese Karatedo, it should be clarified that the language of Karate is Japanese. In utilizing Japanese terminology, it is appropriate to learn how to properly address others, either your peers or your seniors, properly. In Japan, Titles such as those described are use as spoken word mostly when or after people die! Yamaguchi Sensei was never referred to ‘Yamaguchi Kaiso as you might notice until after he was no longer with us, and the same goes for “Chojun Miyagi Kensei [Sacred fist].
Grade Rank & Titles Part 2
From the Kodokan to the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai
The Dai Nippon Butoku Kai was originally formed in 1895 after Japans victory over China. In the long term its original membership, who were made up of police, military, very distinguished citizens, royalty and imperialists, would by the 1940’s have established and molded the people of Japan to:
- Preserve martial virtue [Butoku] as represented by the traditional martial disciplines
- Honor older Budo practitioners who had kept tradition and experienced a true warrior society.
- To promote and propagate the classical martial ways as an education system to help instill Bushido in the minds and bodies of the nation’s youth [Watanabe 1970]. This in the long term strengthened the nation as a whole.
The Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武徳会 is the entity that governs all Martial Arts from Japan on the basis of Budo Philosophies and is endorsed by the Royal Family of Japan. The Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武徳会 adopted and issued the first titles distinguishing modern day Budo practitioners [Budoka, those of “RYU” and not of “Jutsu]. These “Budoka” were determined either prominent or exceptional in their styles by their peers as well as the Dai Nippon Butokukai 大日本武徳会. In the Dai Nippon Butokukai, grading is the assessment of an individual's course toward the attainment of excellence through practice and tradition. This judgment is not based on mortal superior ability however includes the entire mortal, moral, and spiritual and developmental credentials and aspects. The first Shihan ["Master Teacher"] title was Hanshi ["Model Expert "or"" Teacher by Example, and Kyoshi, originally known as Tesshi ["Teaching Expert"]. In 1934, a third title was introduced, Renshi ["Well Trained or Skilled Expert"]. These are the same grades awarded to masters today.
Grade Rank & Titles Part 3
Rank and Titles Part 1 一 等級武術
Kohai, Sempai, Sensei, Shihan Shuo-go & Fuku Shidoin Menkyo.
Try saying all that three times fast!
When receiving a new belt and or Dan grade, such is done in another ceremony [Reishiki], which differs, from Dojo to Dojo. Generally students are called to the front of class. They kneel before their Instructor in Seiza, bow, and under whatever ceremonial circumstance receive their award. Again, the structure of this ritual will vary from Dojo to Dojo, association to association.
As you will notice the grading starts with 10th Kyu [denoting lower grades], a grade obtained by merely being accepted into a Dojo, since it is you who have made the decision in seeking out formal training. Grades descend down in numbers from 10th Kyu until it reaches Ikkyu [1st Kyu], the highest level of brown Belt and after passing the rigorous Shinsa [Audition for Grade] of Black Belt and fulfilling the requirements set forth, you struggle your way back up through the grades of Yudansha ascending to 8th Dan, [10th Dan being the highest achievable grade and bestowed after you have passed from this life to another].
By following a structure of merit, such as the Belt system, an instructor has a way of understanding the development and progression of skill of students and can teach them according to his set standards. This is as well an important part of the Dojo Reishiki and will later relate to the Shihan Shuo-go and Fuku Shidoin Menkyo.
Grade Rank & Titles Part 4
Sho-go - Shihan; A re-clarification
Dan grades have Sensei and Sho-go ["Shihan"] or teaching credential system for those people qualified and wishing to pursue a teaching career as explained previousely.
Sho-go was originated by the Dai Nippon Butokukai and consist three levels or license being Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi.
The awards of Shogo are based on an individual’s knowledge, teaching ability and the outstanding development of character through the study of their Martial Art dicipline. Sho-go does not come at the same time as grading alone. Sho-go or Shihan Menkyo are seperate in achievement from Dan grades and are not assigned with rank or seniority. The holder of these titles must also have made significant contributions to the karate community at large.
Modern day Goju-Ryu
In the wake of modern times, have the original concepts of GoJu-Ryu been lost, modified, or do they remain intact today?
Musha Shugyo 武者修行 Warriors Training
Musha Shugyo 武者修行 Warriors Training
This section comes as a necessary read for students of Budo who believe they have reached their plateau in training. An example is often the 7th Dan who understands that the failure rate, attempting 8th Dan, is 99%. We fail both ourself as well as that which we represent by simply settling for what is and deciding not to continue on. Just because we believe there was no question to receive a passing grade, it is highly important to try; not only because it is an integral part of our Shugyo but also because of what we symbolize.
Shugyo is the way of training and conducting ourself. The Kanji for Musha Shugyo 武者修行 translates as "Warrior Training" however such basic translation lacks the deeper meaning the Kanji represent when put together. The purpose of Shugyo is to “build the spirit,” strengthening a practitioner’s character through hard physical and mental training, going beyond every day Keiko, discovering new limits in the absence of real combat, keeping practitioners ultimately prepared.
Oooos! Ossu! Osssss!
Oooos! Ossu! Osssss!
What on earth is going on with so many Karatedo practitioner sounding like fortune cookies? Who started this Ossu thing anyway? In this installments commentary, we embark [again] with hopes to settle the claims of “OSSU!”
This article has been depreciated. Please see the "Goju Ryu Karatedo Desktop Reference" book for major updates.
空手道 Reigi Saho-Etiquette-Reishiki
So what is Reigi Saho or Reishiki? Reigi Saho, also known as Reishiki, is the order of Bowing (bowing ceremonies) that open and close class. In terms of definition as applicable to Karatedo; it is general etiquette. This is where Deshi (students) line up according to their particular grade and pay their respect, or offer thanks, for what they are about to learn or have learned.
Over the years in training we've come across many Dojo and have regularly noticed people mumbling out words and phrases (Arilpato homabatamabamen... huh - what?) and stumble through etiquette, formal practices or ceremonies and didn’t know either what they were doing or saying (in Japanese), didn’t understand the meaning behind what they were saying / doing or it had never been explained what etiquette has to do with their safety or standards in their relative school and more importantly when such etiquette was in order. In truth, many martial artists are unaware of Reishiki, Reigi-saho and the proper etiquette of their Dojo or any Ryu Ha.
Shinsa Ready - Attending Examinations
Being ready for your karate examination is no easy task. Preparations can be tedious, time consuming and rewarding. Having participated in so many examinations for multiple groups I can offer a pointers.
空手道 The Dojo
Your Dojo should be considered your personal sacred place to work out and train. Its positive atmosphere is created from the start of class during the Dojo Reishiki. It’s where we bond with our brothers and sisters [in Karatedo] on a regular basis to help us improve in our way of life on a physical, and ultimately, a spiritual level.
Karatedo is but a part of our education received in the Dojo. In the Dojo we learn the principals of many other styles, so much that many times when speaking to Martial Artists of other schools we may know more of their style history than they do. This is not the point for our learning, we learn basics [Kihon], self defense, how to respect ourself and others, how to earn our peers friendship, our own internal balance, physical techniques and levels of stamina we might have never thought possible of ourself, and principals to live the rest of our life by. Keep in mind that defense, fighting and pushing ourself physically are only the beginning of Karatedo and remember that enlightenment could be around the corner at any given time. We are not saying it is unhealthy but, try not to think in the way of the Western World for at times it is empty of the final dream that Eastern World Martial Arts have so long aspired for.
The Name Gojuryu
The Name Gojuryu
The naming of Gojuryu came about more by accident than design. In either 1927 or 1930, one of Chojun Miyagi's top students, Jin'an Shinzato, while in Tokyo attending a Martial Arts convention was asked by numerous martial arts masters as to what school of martial arts he practiced. As Naha-te had no formal name he could not answer this question. If he had not answered, his art would be looked down upon and given amateur status. Legend says that he answered "Hankry-ryu", which means the Way of Half Hard.
Traditional Karatedo: Coming or going?
Traditional Karatedo - Coming or Going?
Not all but many Sensei have an open mind and have tried to see things from others point of view. I think we should take a closer look at this unification of sorts.