Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The tale of the Red White and Black Obi


I stand with my friend John Kerker, I am wearing my Red, White and Black Obi.

I am simply a student of Tom Lewis

and of Charles Murray, who is also a student of Tom Lewis.


A Black Belt was just a Black Belt.


But as the years passed, and while I never joined another organization,

An instructor I respected suggested I should begin

Wearing a Red, White and Black Obi.


In his association it did not represent a rank,

rather the indication one was a instructor.


Worn with the black side out, it would just appear a black belt to others.

The colour sections were on the inside, representing a reminder to the instructor of their burden to accurately pass the system forward.


That appealed to me, and I began continuing that tradition in my school.


Along with that for many years I heard about the challenging program of the JKA in Japan had with their International Instructors Development program.

When selected they had to be at least a ni-day, and able to attend a challenging program for 2 years, karate, economics, etc.


Only those graduates would be allowed to become International Instructors.


Without details of the program, I supplied them in my mind.

Decades later I discovered what the program was, was different from what I had imagined.


But the inspiration, for me, that a course of training might produce more qualified instructors, that resonated with me.


I began to turn what an instructor should be upside down.

Eventually developing my program’s personal standards.


1. First the instructor candidate should be at least 15 years into their own studies with us. That puts them on the same page as far as the program goes.

They were then accomplished in our art.


2. There are many ways a black belt can study their art.

Becoming an instructor is but one of them.

They have to have a desire to pass the system onward.


3. The chosen candidate must enter a 5 year mentorship to appreciate the details of the craft.

That means they would follow students who are moving

Through their own various stages of training.

Experiencing the recognition of the students needs

as their training progresses.

Ideally they might follow a student forward into their own dan training.


4. It is not just enough to copy the same teaching style of their instructor. They must demonstrate their own approaches to the same material.

There is not one way to present material,

and allowing them to develop their own methodology actually helps them become the instructor.


5. The candidate must realize that there is no end to this study.

Different students present never ending changing needs.


6. And the journey does not end,

Simply becoming an instructor for the kyu program.

Leaves much more to successfully teach the dan program.


The parts you cannot see on the obi are the more important things.


The desire to pay it forward,

Better and Better.

To each generation.



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