The achievement of a fifth-degree black belt, known in karate as the rank of Godan, is extraordinary on its own; for five members of the same school to achieve such an elite rank is unheard of. But that is exactly what transpired on Saturday, November 6, 2021 when five sensei’s, who embarked on their martial arts journey nearly 20 years ago, reached a level which few ever do, Shihan-Dai.
Shihan-dai can be translated to “assistant professor” or one who can instruct in place of the master.
In testing for this esteemed rank, each of these individuals proved their ability to uphold this position with a unique challenge. The candidates were tasked with learning a kata outside of the Budokai system, presenting its lineage, style, performing it, teaching the kata and its underlying application (known as “bunkai”) to the other candidates and seniors in attendance. Additionally, their knowledge and mastery of the Budokai system was required as well. No small task!
Shihan-dai William Augustine presented on Naihanchi Kata (Tekki). The kata is considered one of the oldest kata. On its surface, the kata may seem simple but it is meant for close-range grappling and strong striking. It takes years of study to aptly apply power to this kata. Interestingly most styles incorporate Sanchin Kata or Naihanchi but not both. US Budokai students practice Sanchin kata.
Shihan-dai Nicole McKay instructed the group on Jion Kata. “Jion” meaning “temple sound” goes back to the Buddhist temple of Jion-Ji. The tai sabaki (body movement) employed in the Wado-ryu version of this form, which continues to be practiced by many styles today, seeks efficiency of movement and to ride, flow or dodge an attack rather than meeting it head-on.
Shihan-dai Tanya Rautine brought to us, Paiku. Paiku is one of the 8 kata of the Ryuei Ryu system. The style was hidden from the world due to family tradition until 1971. A relatively unknown system, its foremost practitioner, Tsuguo Sakumoto held the World Karate Federation Championship from 1984-1988 in his late thirties. Performance video of Sakumoto Sensei can be seen here: Paiku This is a beautiful kata and one which Shihan-dai Tanya has brought to the US Budokai competition team to add to its repertoire.
Shihan-dai Frank Esposito chose Hangetsu Kata, from the Shotokan system, a variation of Seisan, an old kata with a deep lineage. “Hangetsu” means half-moon and is called such for its crescent-like steps and hand movements. Hangetsu is very effective for close-in attacks and unbalancing an attacker. Hangestu uses breathing and breath control much like our Sanchin kata.
Shihan-dai Dan Chouiniere resurrected Bassai-dai for us. There was a short time when this kata was part of the Budokai curriculum! Like many kata it can trace its roots back to China and is practiced in many variations today. Insofar as the kata is practiced with such a variety, so then are its applications whether gross movements or finer more subtle movement – it encourages the student to seek a deeper understanding when comparing. Shihan-dai aptly pointed out that the longer one studies the more the windows of understanding open and the gifted practitioner learns to improvise and create his own “music” of application.
To have these five martial artists join the elite ranks at US Budokai is an incredible honor and we congratulate them with great pride and thank them for their long-standing dedication. When you see them, please congratulate them and don’t forget the new title “Shihan-dai”!
We now have twelve members of our dojo ranked at 5th-degree black belt or above. This speaks so highly of the organization built by Hanshi Russ Jarem, and the depth of knowledge US Budokai has to offer. OSU!
Hanshi Russ Jarem, 8th-degree black belt
Kyoshi Susan Warzek, 7th-degree black belt
USBKA-CP.com & US BUDOKAI KARATE of Clifton Park have been repeatedly selected as the communities’ #1 Martial Arts School!
Established in 1980 by Master Instructor, Hanshi Russ Jarem an 8th degree Black Belt, US Budokai Karate has helped hundreds of students develop the skills necessary for a successful life. Students at US Budokai Karate receive instruction from the most experienced martial artists in the area.
Classes are offered for pre-school children ages 4-6 and elementary-age kids ages 7 and up. These programs are designed to help children develop the skills needed for success in school and later in life.
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The US Budokai Karate is centrally located in Clifton Park New York and serves the greater Capital District Area. US Budokai Karate 215 Guideboard Road, Suite 5, Clifton Park, NY 12065.