Hello again ;-) My trip report begins with my visit to the Great Intergalactic Shotokan Reconciliation Convention and Trade Show of 2257 where, in an unprecedented show of unity, the leaders of the more than 22,000 governing bodies for Shotokan karate style agreed once and for all to put aside petty differences and work together to serve the needs of students. One of the more interesting agreements reached at the conference was a new way of using dan ranks to acknowledge individual progress. Going forward, it was decided that the first five dan ranks would be used as follows:
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Pressure is the result of two surfaces in contact with one another where they exert force against each other. If you stand on your feet, your feet with exert force against the floor equal to the mass of your body in Earth’s gravity. When that force is calculated against the surface area involved, the amount of pressure, pounds per square inch, can be derived.
In today’s installment, I advise instructors on how they can put some extra time and effort into planning and executing something that most Karate instructors have never given any thought to: Awarding promotions to club members. Awarding promotions can be turned into a community-building experience that deepens the relationship between you and your students, strengthens their commitment to their membership in the club, and leverages the full power of the incentive that Karate ranks are designed to represent. If you meet this challenge, you will have another technique in your arsenal of Karate club management.
If you go to a college karate club in Japan filled with tough guys, you are going to hear them bark “Osu!” You are going to hear it a lot, in fact. They are expressing their cohesion, their sense of group togetherness, their closeness in age, and their masculinity. They are saying, “This is tough stuff and we can take it.”
Since it is considered a rough, masculine expression in Japanese, saying “Osu!” to others opens the possibility that you will offend certain Japanese. When you say 押忍 (that’s how you write osu in Japanese) to Japanese be very careful to follow the appropriate usage. This will lower the chance you might offend someone. As an added bonus, you will be using the word in a more accurate imitation of Japanese karate culture. To succeed, an understanding of Japanese politeness will help, but not provide the complete picture.
The original belt colors taken from Judo in the 1920′s were white, brown, black, as far as I have been able to determine.
When I started training in karate, the first rank that our club awarded was a yellow piece of electrical tape attached to the end of our white belts. We did not even receive the dignity of receiving a yellow belt – a belt which I have always thought looked sort of wimpy. We worked very hard to earn these first ranks and to receive our little certificates marked with the name of the school, signed by the teacher, and stamped by the little recreation center where we kids trained. We were very proud of ourselves for having received our first rank certifications.
Most of my teaching now is done by seminars so one thing that I get very often is afterwards people tend to come up to me and ask questions like, “this has made me want to start taking martial arts lessons, what style or school do I recommend?” I get asked for recommendations on martial arts schools and styles quite often and I have two responses that I typically give.
Karate Ranks: The Revenue Rainbow Featured
Why do karate schools issue ranks? It’s complicated. The most obvious answer is that people charging money for karate sell karate belts to students who pass tests. The more belts there are to sell, the more revenue the owner of the school collects from each student as they pass through the ranks. This effect is amplified by the fact that a karate school owner probably sees that the more quickly students are rewarded for their efforts, the more motivated they are to continue training. Therefore, more students training for longer paying money for more belts can mean an exponential increase in revenue from equipment sales.
How to Pronounce 押忍! Featured
If you practice Shotokan Karate outside of Japan, your instructor probably expects you to learn a certain amount of Japanese. The list of required Japanese vocabulary usually includes the word 押忍 [osu]. Lots of people say “押忍!” when given instruction, when greeting one another, or when answering in the affirmative. But do they pronounce it properly?