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grand master

Seniority and respect

I am a 7th kyu in shito ryu karate do and my little sister is a senior brown belt in taekwondo, should I show her extra respect because of this? - Cory

You should show her respect, not just because of her situation as a more experienced martial artist, (even though she is studying another tradition than you), but because of your progress in your own discipline. However, it is not enough to show respect to her, instead you should in general exercise it with everyone you can, including yourself, in and outside the martial arts environment. We all understand that respect is earned but we should be prepared to give the benefit of the doubt in advance.

Keep in mind that your training should emphasize the generation of your own positive initiatives, good judgement and care for others. The more advanced you become the more you might want to express such respect, without worry if the other person is a beginning white belt or a grand master as a point of reference for quality or seriousness. Overall, as a martial artist, respect is something that you can train all day and give without get tired at all. Keep your good training and take care of your sister with great love.




Multistyles black belt stripes

If one holds a 2nd dan in one style but 1st dan level in 2 other styles, are they a 2nd degree black belt or a 4th? Is it appropriate to wear a belt with 4 stripes on one side and 2 stripes on the other with that style on the belt? - Vicki

Different degrees obtained in different arts do not add up to a higher dan grade. Although there is no question that further levels of training expands the knowledge and experience of the martial artist, it doesn't necessarily mean that within the curriculum of any one style that they have progressed.

The black belt holder knows better than others the origins, teachers, and examiners that granted their degree status. It is a redundancy and a great expression of self-indulgence to try to show others more stripes in the belt than the ones really deserved. Perhaps, your question reflects an observation of someone that it is doing it, or simply a genuine doubt, however it should be made clear that in the study of the martial arts, no matter what traditions they come from, the dan system is not contemplated as a reward, nor as an accumulation or expression of status and self-importance.

The appropriate way to deal with the question is to wear the belt degree from each discipline within the respective class environment or activity. If there is more than one art in question then simply change your belt when the occasion requires it. A more practical way is to wear a black belt without stripes at all so it can be worn in all of the practiced arts. That's what we do.





The house is a dojo

What does it mean when someone tells you that their house is a dojo? Does it mean more than a training site for martial arts? - Tracy T

The martial artist's training and experiences are not limited to the dojo. The self-improvement attitude and approaches are transported to home as well into other contexts of daily life. The etiquette exercises in the dojo, that reflect respect, care, dedication, sincerity, contemplation, effort, calm, perseverance, positive and creative initiatives, provide the practitioner with a unique awareness that should be used in other environments. To confine the learning and practice experience to just only a single place and time will reduce the sphere of results and enjoyment generated from the martial art. The personal improvement in the physical, mental and spiritual areas, with the sensitivity and response awareness generated during the training in the dojo is extrapolated and utilized at home. The opportunity to "open" the dojo's walls to your living environment, will indeed allow you to get the best results and quality of experience possible in other circles of life. The ability to relate with others in harmony and with mutual understanding is a tool that also requires constant training and natural expression.

A martial artist considers the dojo as a "laboratory" to explore and study a variety of generated emotions during the time there. Tolerance, solidarity, compassion, reactions and actions that look for an authentic use of the intellectual resources and intuitive process, and inner joy and calm are part of the training. Knowing our capabilities and abilities is not enough, they should be used productively and embodied with a "down to earth" human and social flavor. In the same way that we cannot conceptually narrow Nature to an ornamental flower arrangement, our training effort will be empty if we do not open our minds and hearts to a real and bigger reality.



Proper tribute

What is the protocol regarding a black belt's obi upon their death? Is it placed in the coffin? Also, is there a proper tribute or prayer that can be said? Eric - USA

We are sorry for the loss that has occurred near to you.

Traditions for honoring the dead vary widely and are affected by religion and family philosophies.

In the Japanese tradition a kimono is folded on the opposite side (right over left) when dressing the deceased. There is not a firm tradition that we know of for the belt.

Remembering that in some traditions the obi is just a piece of cloth to keep the robes closed or to hold up pants, and that the black belt evolved out of dirty white belts that were stained by years of hard work training, it is unlikely that we can do dishonor to the belt itself. It is what the person knew who wore it that is important.

We suggest that you follow your own heart on this subject. If there is a clear person to whom the belt could be passed such as a sempai who will take over the work of the sensei than it is certainly acceptable traditionally for that person to have it. Sometimes teachers will pass their own belt to a student to indicate the passing on of knowledge within their lifetimes. Otherwise it is probably more appropriate for the family to keep it as a remembrance. They may make the decision to pass it on. Alternatively there is nothing wrong with the belt being placed in the casket.

As for tributes we think that something original should be composed by a senior student, fellow trainee or someone close to the deceased who understands what their martial art training meant to that person. As a theme we might suggest the idea of the white page, Nyuanshin, beginners mind, beginning again, of white turning to black and coming full circle again.

One tradition in a Japanese dojo if there has been a death in the family the student will turn the knots of the belt to the left side. This is a quiet way of communicating that all is not as you would like to have it in your world. Honor the friend who has died by training harder than before with an open heart, clarity of vision and integrity of spirit.

We hope that this has been of some help and with more time we will investigate further so that others may know of it. Thank you for the question.




Taekwondo styles

I do a branch of TaeKwonDo known as Ji-Tae please could you tell me what Ji-Tae means it's philosophy and what makes it different from other branches of TaeKwonDo.

Unfortunately we don't have any knowledge of your specific style at the moment. We are aware that many teachers form new lines of styles. Some are similar to previous ones but with different names. Others are a fusion of more than one martial art teaching or training approaches.

However, we can tell you that Ji-Tae is a Korean kanji (pictogram) that refers to "earth". Its' meaning is a man standing on the ground with two feet, looking over the sky or "heaven". Such attitude represents the way of struggling for human life that is developed on the ground. Its philosophical concept reflects the belief that all living things come from and return to the earth, as the origin and termination of life.

A poomse (form) required for grading to 6th Dan Black Belt in the The World Tae Kwon Do Federation is named "Jitae". It symbolizes the different aspects that occur in the human existence and its struggle, as well as the relationships of changes of all lifeforms with the earth.

As soon as we learn more details about your specific style, we will get back to you.




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