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Shodan in Perspective

I have written about Promotion to Black Belt and Promotion to Black Belt 2.

I stated that promotion to shodan is equivalent to the first grade. Some might feel that this is too low an evaluation and that I do not respect the hard work and dedication it takes to earn a shodan. I can understand such a feeling.

In Hawaii, we tend to play down such things as promotions. It would be very Hawaii-like to hand a black belt to a new shodan and then slap him on the head head and say, "Don't get a big head!" We are always guarding against arrogance.

If your sensei is a nidan, a shodan will not be like the first grade when compared to that sensei. However, when you think of such greats as Choshin Chibana, Shoshin Nagamine, and Seikichi Uehara, shodan is perhaps even less than first grade -- perhaps it is just kindergarten. Think of people who practice Karate for their entire lives. Compared to their training lives, shodan is just the beginning of serious training.

Whatever rank you might be, whether first kyu or first dan, you should try your very best. Progress comes from dedicated training. If a person is skilled, his skill will speak for itself. If a person is not skilled, even a high rank will not help him -- in fact, it will make him look rather foolish.


Charles C. Goodin