RANK EXAMINATIONS & AFFILIATIONS
There are a tremendous number of Shotokan Karate-do associations worldwide. Included among those are the original governing body, the Japan Karate Association (JKA), as well as the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF), Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF), International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF), International Karate Daigaku (IKD), Japan Karate Shotorenmei (JKS), Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA), Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF), World Shotokan Karate-Do Federation (WSKF), World Traditional Karate Organization (WTKO), Asai Shotokan Association International (ASAI), World JKA Karate Association (WJKA), Shotokan Karate of America (SKA), Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA), Shotokan Karatedo of Japan Federation (SKJF), and many more. Related organizations, such as the Japan Karate-do Ryobu Kai (JKR) which was founded by Yasuhiro Konishi and teaches Shindo Jinen Ryu Karate-do, are also numerable.
As a result of many years of membership in several of the aforementioned organizations, we have decided to remain independent, focusing on the art that we love rather than getting ensconced in the politics which inevitably surrounds all of these organizations. Instead, we remain true to the original art form as taught by Gichin Funakoshi and his early adherents, including Yasuhiro Konishi. Whenever possible, we remain on friendly and supportive terms with other local, regional, and national Shotokan groups and adhere to the rank standards as proscribed by the Japan Karate Association in the middle of the 20th century.
Karate-do training is difficult - something to be proud of. We offer rank tests on a quarterly basis with incremental pre-tests to determine progress within your current rank.
These tests are not grueling displays of endurance and physical fitness, but rather technical examinations designed to check your progress. In addition to the accurate and proper demonstration of the required techniques, the character and moral standards displayed are also taken into consideration.
The martial art of karate-do has no limitations to offer its practitioners. Karate-do is the unlimited development of the individual’s physical and mental powers. Each day presents a new opportunity to improve over the day before. Indeed, the training of karate-do can be likened to a staircase that has no end. Every step brings one closer to the goal. But the ultimate goal is very high. The true karateka counts each step as a substantive measure of his or her progress. These measures are referred to as ranking levels. Each individual will find him- or herself at their own particular level of training achievement. Some will be higher than others, and yet it is all relative, for the final goal cannot be reduced to the mere attainment of one level. The objective is rather to progress, to advance, and to achieve in the context of continual training and seeking of karate-do.
(1) Karate-do ranking is like a mirror which correctly reflects the individual’s past and present level of achievement. It is a guidance tool used to gauge and assess not only what has been learned, but what will be learned. The goals in karate-do are high and the development of the practitioner is ongoing. Ranking does not signal an end to learning. Rather, it is a step taken on the way toward the refinement and more complete development of karate-do abilities.
(2) The ranking process should be viewed as the respite from daily training which marks that time for evaluation of both quality and quantity of training received. And yet, because of this, the necessity of training must remain of paramount importance. Without it you cannot hope to advance. Moreover, an attitude that devalues the importance of training can result in the loss of karate-do vitality, stability, and development.
(3) At ranking examination time, the examinee must exhibit a posture of assurance and optimum appearance. One must be prepared physically and mentally to show his or her best. The effort should be made, then, to peak in one’s training at precisely that moment when ranking examination occurs. By striving for this position of readiness, the examinee will exude self-confidence, composure, and determination.
(4) The human side of karate-do ranking must not be overlooked. Ranking is not simply an evaluation of technique. It is a cultivation of human values of conduct, sportsmanship, and etiquette. Placed in this context, it takes on even greater importance as a method to appraise the state of one’s character.
(5) There cannot be any sense of finality to the ranking process. It is a lifelong undertaking that challenges each of us to pursue and attain each goal on the way toward the next. Taken in that light, the examinee should not be discouraged by a temporary setback in his or her progress. And by the same token, the examinee should not be unduly elated at the attainment of a particular ranking level. There is time yet to achieve and perfect each level before the next is challenged.
(6) Therefore, the proper attitude should be one that encourages the strengthening of technique as each level is encountered. The result of the ranking examination then becomes secondary.
RANK STRUCTURE, KATA & RANK REQUIREMENTS
White belt = No kyu [no kata]
Yellow belt = 9th kyu [Taikyoku Shodan]
Gold belt = 8th kyu [Heian Shodan]
Orange belt = 7th kyu [Heian Nidan]
Green belt = 6th kyu [Heian Sandan]
Green belt = 5th kyu [Heian Yondan]
Green belt = 4th kyu [Heian Godan]
Brown belt = 3rd kyu [Tekki Shodan]
Brown belt = 2nd kyu [Bassai Dai]
Brown belt = 1st kyu [Jion]
Black belt = 1st dan [Bassai Dai, Jion, Empi, Kanku Dai]
Ten No Kata Omote*
*standard kata taught by Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, the founder of Shotokan Karate-do.
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