You will notice when you visit Watashi No Dojo, or if you peruse our photo gallery, that there is a lack of colored belts at our school. That is because we have a two color belt system here; white and black. We have a 10 kyu promotional system that enables us to see our progress, but no colored belts to physically show rank. This is for many reasons. Most importantly, it prevents us from judging others by the color of the belt around their waist and helps to remind us that, although some have been studying longer, we are all people who deserve respect regardless of rank.
Early in the history of Karate, there was no real concept of belt color. A karate practitioner’s belt was simply something worn to secure their gi.
Unlike the gi, which was always kept in pristine condition, Okinawan dogma stated that the belt was left unwashed as it contained the fighting spirit and soul of effort put into training. Effectively, a white belt would just get dirtier over time and eventually give the appearance of being black. This could mean that someone who had been training for two years would often wear the same belt as an absolute novice. Only highly proficient and long standing Karate students would have belts that appeared black.
It later became practice for a new black belt to be presented to a student whom the teacher thought to be highly skilled.
As Karate was becoming more of an international art it had to appeal to as many people as possible. The people of Japan were more patient and repetitive in their Karate training. Due to the differences in culture, the western world predominantly wanted to learn a lot in a short time and wanted to see evidence of progress. The colored belts offered short-term goals to suit those people looking for quick results.
We offer a two belt system so that we can put our time and energy where it belongs. Not in getting the next color belt, but in working hard to make ourselves better people and better martial artists.
“The only two ranks that matter are white belt and black belt. White belt represents courage (the courage to risk failure) and black belt represents persistence and follow through. The world is full of great starters, but it is the ability to follow through to the end that seperates the best of us from the rest of us” – John Graden
Karate originated in Okinawa, now a Japanese prefecture with strong historical ties to China as well as Japan. Over 1,000 years old, Karate began as a training practice for monks in the ancient Orient. It owes the fundamentals of its techniques to Kung Fu, from China, and Japan’s jujitsu fighting, but also contains elements of other fighting systems.
Okinawa was under the strong influence of both China and Japan from the 14th century, but had its own language and culture until 1879, when it was officially annexed by Japan. Various rulers between the 15th and 17th centuries set a ban on weapons to prevent rebellion, which resulted in the rise of weaponless fighting techniques. The native Okinawan martial art, called Te (hand), combined with Kung Fu to become known as Kode Te (Chinese hand), which was changed to Kara Te (empty hand) around the turn of the 19th century with the advent of Japanese rule.
A fighter named Gichin Funakoshi was credited for introducing Karate to the Japanese, and later to the rest of the world, when he led a demonstration in 1921 for then-Crown Prince Hirohito during a royal visit to Okinawa. After World War II, when U.S. forces occupied Okinawa, American soldiers began training in Karate methods, and Karate is now practiced by millions of people around the globe.
Aikijujutsu is a martial art which emphasizes an early neutralization of an attack. Like other forms of jujutsu, it emphasizes throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively control, subdue or injure an attacker. It emphasizes using the timing of an attack to either blend or neutralize its effectiveness and use the force of the attacker’s movement against them. Aikijujutsu is characterized by the ample use of atemi, or the striking of vital areas, in order to set up joint-locking or throwing tactics.
Shinkendo is a form of Budo, or Japanese martial arts, created in 1990 by Obata Toshishiro. Mr. Obata studied and mastered many different schools of Budo in Japan, and then came to America to distill what he had learned into a new, complete art. Shinkendo is the real way of the sword.
Studying true swordsmanship must also include proper philosophies (Kyogi) and techniques (Jitsugi). Shinkendo’s philosophies are based on Kuyo Junikun (Nine Planets, 12 Precepts) and Hachido (The Eight-Fold Path). Together, these teachings promote the ideal of Jinsei Shinkendo: to learn valuable lessons from sword study, and incorporate them into our lives in order to live a better lifestyle.
Ranking in Shinkendo is based on the older, traditional system without the usage of the modern Dan and Kyu rankings. Being a great student and being a great instructor are two different things, and therefore student ranks and instructor ranks are tested and awarded separately.
The International Shinkendo Federation was officially established in 1994 in order to spread it to the world. Shinkendo is based on more than a thousand years of Samurai history, and was researched and developed by Obata Toshishiro in order to create a comprehensive style of swordsmanship that could be introduced to the world. Shinkendo is trademarked in the US, Japan, and other countries. The name Shinkendo and Shinkenjutsu are protected, and cannot be used without the authorization of the International Shinkendo Federation.