Cichorei Kano wrote:DougNZ wrote:Jonesy wrote:Some thoughts on red/white vs white/red here: http://www.chitoryu.com/Ranks.htm
Interesting second article, thanks, Jonesy. I wonder how universal the Avenger's belt system is within karate. Some of their information seems contradictory, taken the site over. I also become wary when people talk about shogo, dani and other titles in the same breath.
There are several errors in those texts. For example, in the second text it reads: "Jigoro Kano chose to recognize sixth, seventh, and eighth degree black belts with a special obi made of alternating red and white panels (kohaku obi)."
This is not true. The kohaku belt as introduced by Kanô Jigorô actually extended from 6th to 9th dan, not 8th dan. The red belt was designated for 10th, 11th and higher dan-ranks. Only later under Nangô Jirô this was changed when after Kanô's death the Kôdôkan limited the highest dan-rank to 10, now that Kanô had never awarded any rank higher than 10th.
The references to Genpei and Genji etc. may be somewhat confusing to people hence some clarification. The Genpei war, origin of the colors red vs. white took place between 1180-1185 between the Minamoto and Taira clans. 'Minamoto' is the kun pronunciation of the kanji 源, but its on pronunciation is actually gen, whereas Taira is the kun pronunciation of 平 while its on pronunciation is 平, hence why the combination of the two names 'Minamoto' and 'Taira' can be pronounced as 'Gen + hei' or 'Genpei'.
The Genpei war was a critical and significant event in the history of Japanes budô. Although it would take another 350 years before the first jûjutsu schools (inter alia Takanouchi-ryû in 1532) would be established, it is the time when the Japanese katana would reach its perfection. Before the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the shape of the swords is not standardized. There are few swords left from the Heian period (794-1185) and although some late Heian swords are already katana most are not and not significantly different from swords in other countries. The Genpei war is also critical as the bedrock of bushidô despite claims from some that bushidô would be some kind of modern invention. When the foundations of a Japanese moral war code started to form themselves it was not under the name bushidô, but under the name kyûba-no-michi or the Way of bow and arrow. At that time it was not a fully developed moral code as it lacked the infusion of well-described philosophical bedrock, nor was it a generally accepted or expected way of behavior. Further development and changes of name into first shidô and later bushidô would extend over centuries. Nevertheless, the event is critical in Japan's military history and together with the other major war 400 years later (Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 resulting in the final unification of Japan), represents the most significant historic Japanese military event before its involvement in the 1904-1905 Great Japanese Russian War and World War II.
It is the winning Minamoto clan that gave rise to the creation of the shôgun figure, which did not previously exist. This new position was established in Kamakura rather than in Kyôto, hence the start of a new era called "Kamakura period", inter alia characterized by the creation of a separate military government (named bakufu) in addition to the ruling emperor. However, despite the win, the rivalry between Minamoto and Taira which continued to exist due to family ties, hence why their colors red vs. white are so impactful in the Japanese understanding of 'competing interests' between two parties.
I wanted to add the brief introduction above not certain how familiar the average person is with this, and to contextualized the background against which the introduction of the concept 'kohaku' needs to be understood.
Thanks for this. I find this discussion very interesting. Could I please ask one question. I had previously understood that the original belt system under Kano contemptated as the highest award (above judan) a white belt twice as wide as a traditional obi. Is this totally incorrect?