28 Dec

2011, Shougatsu, Shiroi No Obi – New Year (of the) White Belt

2011, eleven years have passed since “THE millennium”; a time when computer glitches, and the flagrance of man sought to foretell of havoc. Have we learned and grown in those eleven years? Are we capable of evolving? If so, how?

I suggest that in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months, that begin to unfold into the path that will be called “2011”, we need to walk that unwinding path with the “mind of a white belt.”

Shiroi-No-Obi (The White Belt)

This concept is derived from a Goshin-Do Karate percept, “Observe with the mind of a white belt.” The while belt, worn by novice students, is said to symbolize purity and innocence in terms of preconceptions as to Karate. (See Endnote # 1). When a Karate-Ka (student of Karate) first enters the Dojo, the neophyte observes without preconceived thought or emotion. Thus, one observes every detail, even the most minute, with the pure eyes of a child. In doing so, one is able to capture the inner most aspect of a Karate-Do technique and incorporate it into one’s personal repertoire.

Prior to the advent of modern colored belts, a Karate-Ka would wear the same belt (a white belt) during his entire training. Although the Karate uniform would be laundered  regularly, as a sign of respect, the Karate-Ka would not wash his belt. Over time, the white belt would become soiled. The belt would even be used to wipe the sweat from one’s brow after training. Thus, the belt would become discolored, eventually turning black from use, wear and tear. This is the humble birth of the all too coveted black belt.

In the final days that remain of the year 2010, we should shed our internal black belt. Our preconceptions, emotions and perhaps even thoughts have become “soiled” over time. In the first indicia of time that calls forth “2011!” let us all shed preconceptions – “internal and emotional baggage”. In the first millisecond of 2011, we should commit to don the belt of a novice and view the minutest details of the unfolding year with a pure and innocent heart and spirit. Let us all become the exalted white belt.

Wishing all a very Happy New Year, I remain

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do


1. From: The Academy Of Goshin-Do Karate-Do Student Handbook, page 29.

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to fly-fishing from a martial arts perspective by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Wordpress.Com

2 Responses to “2011 – THE YEAR OF THE WHITE BELT”

  1. Anonymous December 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Sensei John,

    Excellent incite to the New Year! if only everyone could learn to begin again and rid themselves of preconceived notions. The world would truly be a better place. Starting fresh like the innocent child. Kudos to you for bringing this to all our minds for this New Year! My hope is that it will get many of us thinking along a better path.

    A Happy, Healthy New Year is wished to all!

    An avid reader of Sensei’s ideology

    • senseijohn December 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Dear Avid Reader:
      Thank-you for subscribing to my weblog & your comment.
      Look for new and exciting additions to the blog in 2011, including a video series!
      I wish you well during the New Year.
      — Sensei John

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