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Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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How can anyone possibly attain black belts in several systems, styles or branches of martial arts?

The old stories abound on how masters of old would study one kata for years to learn it. Today, you hear stories or resumes that a person has a black belt in this system, a black belt in that system and a black belt in the system, how can this be if it truly takes years to learn even one kata and all its accouterments?

I have a theory! Lets just say that those who hold black belts, kuro obi, in many systems actually knows each of them to the depth and breadth the traditionalists speak of to truly know karate or any martial system. I won't bore you with facts and figures that would disprove the possibility and I won't preach that those who "know" many systems or styles is actually only knowledgeable of the mere surface movements of same, that would be unfair as there are those out there who have the depth and breadth of many systems and rightly so.

I hypothesize that if a person comes to truly know, understand and practice a system, style or branch down to its deepest depth and to the edge of its widest breadth that they have found, learned and truly understand the fundamental principles of martial systems. Once you know the one then the others are merely and adjustment to fit the style, system or branch of martial art.

Take a close look at Isshinryu, Gojuryu, Shorinryu and tell me you don't see a lot of similarities in the techniques, kata and overall practice. At their core the fundamental principles of martial systems are fundamentally the exact same thing. Body alignment is body alignment but how the body alignment is applied is the only variation. Generation of power is generation of power applied is the only variation between the systems, styles or branches. This is a fundamental truth of all martial arts.

This means that one system, style or branch is fundamentally no different than any other system, style or branch in the light of fundamental principles but the signature of each is unique and individualized by the person who created the system, style of branch.

Isshinryu, my style/branch, can be seen as the same as goju and shorin, the father and mother of the child Isshinryu or the one heart way. It's uniqueness comes from Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei as he blended those two into the one unique personalized version or variation he calls Isshinryu.

Hey, this ain't rocket science you know. ;-)


  1. Well...it IS possible, sure. Highly unlikely, but possible.

    Ruling out mcdojos, I suppose it would be possible to simultaneously train in something like Karate and Muay Thai and achieve a BB in both. The practitioner could then continue to study them on the side while devoting most his time to Jiu Jutsu or Hapkido or etc. I think, though, that someone who cross trains widely (and who also has a job, family, chores, and other normal requirements) could probably only go as high as perhaps nidan or sandan.

    I get your point though. And I think it is a safe rule of thumb to assume that if someone is BOASTING about the number of black belts he's got then he probably bought them at Sears.


  2. Hmmm. I've got mixed feelings on this one. I would agree that most people who have multiple black belts don't really know or understand the heart of the martial arts they have studied. The majority of them probably come from McDojos and Black Belt Factories. There are a few people I know who study widely, they study everything they can get their hands on and never want to stop learning. These are the kinds of people who really understand that earning your black belt (at least by today's standards) just means that you've got the basics down and now you can start really learning what your art is all about. These are also the same people who really devote some serious time to their art(s). We're talking 15 to 20 hours a week of genuine hard study and practice, sometimes in addition to 2 or 3 hours of class. I doubt many of the black belts today can say they put that kind of time in a week, I doubt even a lot of instructors today practice that much. They teach classes 30 hours a week, sure. But do they actually really take the time to work on their own art?

    I'd say if someone has put that kind of time in for 20 years or more, then yeah, the might actually deserve their black belts in two systems. Like you said, they've also come to the realization that pretty much all martial arts are the same, the tactics and strategies might be different, there is only so many ways you can punch, kick and throw someone...