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What does it mean to be a Black Belt

The Martial Arts Theocracy as

an Educational Tool

LECTURE ARTICLE for July 30, 2015



In the United States, police officers are public servants who have the legal

authority to arrest and detain people for a limited time. Qualified officers are

authorized by the law enforcement agency to carry a fire arm. The major role of the

police is to maintain order, keeping the peace through surveillance of the public,

and the subsequent reporting and apprehension of suspected violators of the law.

There are two set of laws defining the circumstances under which law enforcement

officers are justified in using lethal force on suspects. One set of standards is state

law and the other set of standards is the policy of the officersf police department,

policies which describe when and when not to use force.

While there are screens that test the capability of a potential police officer from a

technical and regulatory standpoint to ensure the most capable are credentialed as

enforcement officials, I am concerned that there may not be a set of tests or screens

to assess the recruitsf emotional limitations related to tolerance, conflict resolution

or anger management.

The martial art of Okinawan origin traditionally had practitioners who trained to be

patient and to forgive the potentially hostile opposition. Through their training they

built up their balanced, stable mind and body.

Black belt literally pertains to the beltfs color which has darkened over time.

Traditionally in Okinawa and the Japan mainland, every practitioner wears a clean

white belt as part of the uniform they wear for the art. By wearing the white belt

for decades, those practitionersf belts became stained by handling, thus blackened.

That is what it means to be a black belt. Those who wear the stained belt show

through the years of training that they have learned enough of the fundamental

performing knowledge and demonstrate mental and physical discipline. Let us not

make the mistake that the black belt is awarded to those who have merely shown

proficiency in the basic foundation and therefore have mastered the art form.

Instead, the black belt is the entry point for further study and practice.

As an example, my father whose first name was Gogen, was given his name by his

instructor Mr. Chojun Miyagi. The Chinese character for Gogen, it written as .

The first letter means gHardh, as represented by the first word of Go-Ju, and

literally means gBlack,h which connotes the profound maturity or professionalism

only found through extensive practice.

The Oriental culture values the evidence of hard work exhibited by the stained and

darkened color of black - which is opposite to the Christian value of gImmaculate

Conceptionh in the Western culture. The latter is influenced by Christian dogma

promoting purity as defined by that which is stainless.

In a previous lecture, I mentioned that Okinawa, which was a colonized island by

the Satsuma Clan of Japan, developed an ideology among the islanders to ensure

their survival. They practiced how to coexist with an alien administrative or

governing power. Their purpose as stated by, gHitoni Utarezu Hito Utazu,

Kotonakikotowo Mototosuruh, and means g...thus no one can harm you nor can

you harm anyone,h reflects the metaphysical concept to survive by coexisting with

a hostile power rather than by eliminating the power.

Okinawan islanders and the Jewish people share resembling values, that is, to

surrender to the hosting powers in order to survive and preserve their diaspora

community and their cultural legacy. They both practice the avoidance of protest

against the powers and seek to coexist with their adversaries.

The Okinawan Martial Arts theocracy supports the idea of protecting the self while

not harming the adversary and not allowing that adversary to harm you. The

concept requires a fundamental awareness and respect of others and other cultures

within the society.

I was quite disturbed with an incident that occurred recently in Texas. A woman

was stopped by a traffic officer and arrested by the officer for not complying with

his order and three days later she was found dead in her jail cell. She violated a

traffic law by neglecting to signal as she changed lanes. She was arrested because

she refused to stop smoking her cigarette and when the officer asked her to step out

of the car, she resisted doing so. From the womanfs perspective, she was not

breaking any law by smoking in her own car and refused to follow the demand of

the officer to extinguish her cigarette. From the officerfs perspective, his demand

and therefore authority was ignored. It was most unfortunate that the officer was

not patient enough to control his anger and ignore the driverfs hostile manner and it

was unfortunate that the driver persisted to make her point by disregarding the

officerfs authority.

For most automobile collisions, regardless of who caused the collision, either party

could have evaded the crash by applying his/her defensive skills. If an officer is

unreasonable, you may need to defend yourself by executing survival techniques

such as removing any justification for the authority to arrest you. To persist upon

your rights, may not help the situation if the other party is of unfit or irrational


I would like to share an episode experienced by one of my fellow black belts.

During a road trip he noticed a patrol car was trailing him by a hundred yards. He

immediately wondered if he had been driving faster than the speed limit.

Voluntarily, he pulled his car to the curb, turned off the engine and exited the car.

He then walked to the rear of his car placing his back against the car. He quietly

waited for the patrol car by spreading his arms and placing his opened hands on the

car trunk, smiling.

In this episode, my fellow black belt received no ticket. Both parties greeted each

other in a friendly manner and my black belt evaded any possible harassment.

If one is raised as a member of a minority group, he/she learns through experience

the absurdity of abuse by agents representing majority. If you are trained to handle

such experiences, you can build up a sense of patience in order to survive instead

of reacting in a manner that could provoke the authority.

On the other hand, if you represent the authority, you need to be disciplined by

controlling your emotions as I stated above, thus applying the Okinawan theocracy

of martial arts. A police officer also needs to survive while properly executing his

duties. To be trained in the concept of martial arts one can earn his/her safety by

not hurting those individuals who may challenge you.

The word of SENSEI in Japanese translates into gteacherh in English. This is not

exactly the correct translation because of how the word is spelled . The first

letter, (SEN) literally means, gpriorh and the second (SEI) means gbirth.h

The correct meaning of the idiom should be ga person who was born before you.h

The term SHIHAN, t́Aalso is translated into English as gteacher.h@The first

letter means, in fact, teacher but the second letter refers to grole model.h As an

Okinawan Martial Arts instructor, the discipline strongly emphasizes the

qualification to be an instructor as one who does not abuse the power of authority

as a teacher.

The sense of gyour concerns are mineh applies to the essence of grole modelh,

defending your students and not targeting them as your adversary.

The United States is a multi-cultural society. And as this is where we live, if you

are qualified to be a karate instructor trained in the mindset of patience and

tolerance, you would be an ideal teacher of our future children to help them learn

how to live in the multicultural society by respecting others and their culture.

As stated in a previous lecture, I believe the Okinawan concept of the art of karate

is effective as an educational tool to establish a common sense of global

citizenship. Every citizen needs to develop a mentality that is disciplined and one

which values the peaceful coexistence with the different groups of people in a

multicultural society. To prepare our children for that society, we need an

educational model to teach this mentality.

I would like to point to how the Okinawan concept and its principles of tolerance

and liberalism will strengthen our world and enable us to build a healthy

multicultural community.


Copyright © 2015 by Norimi Gosei Yamaguchi and Goju-Kai Karate-Do, U.S.A.

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