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 "All Things Begin With One..."



Training at Stamford Dojo
      Students who enter training at the Stamford Dojo of Isshinryu Karate Do are expected to be dedicated learning karate.  The word "Do" express this.  It means, path (Tao in Chinese), and refers to the idea that one studies karate, not only for (or not EVEN for):
Exercise for Muscle Development
Improved Stamina and Fitness
Fighting / Defensive Skills
Balance and Grace
A Sense of Self-Security
A Sense of Power and Control
Personal Achievement
External Praise & Admiration
Getting Ranks and ......
Becoming a Black Belt


but... rather... because Karate is a path, a WAY OF LIVING.


      Therefore, we expect students to abide by Code of Karate and to take the privilege of study seriously.
Students begin as White Belts and are required to learn certain traditional movements, to perform certain skills and to learn most of the history and tradition of Isshinryu Karate.


As students perform stances & the upper and lower body techniques, answer questions regarding Shimabuku, rules, history, & masters, they receive a Yellow Stripe on White.


Ability to perform the Seisan Kata as well as Kotekitai, have proper breathing, show Kime or focus, Judo breakfalls, demonstrate more stances and perform an effective Kiai lead to the Yellow Belt.


One Green Bar is added as the student performs Seiunchin Kata, does 1, & 3 point Kumite, recites the Code (Kenpo Gokui), and begins the Bunkai for Seisan.


The Green Belt will require Naihanchi Kata, Bunkai, Jiu Kumite and the ability of the student to begin assisting lower belt students. Kobudo begins at Green Belt.  Bunkai for Seiuchin required. 12  
One Brown Stripe is added when the student demonstrates Wansu Kata, does a written report on a book from Isshinryu Karate, can draw foot patterns for katas and knows all kicks in the system.
A Second Brown Stripe is given for Sanchin Kata, Tamishiwara, Kubitan and advanced demonstration of knowledge in 1, 3 & Free form sparing or Jiu Kumite.  Bo-Bo Kumite tested.  New Bunkai.
As the student's knowledge deepens, the color of the belt gets darker.  Brown belt is given for Chinto Kata, Tokumeni Bo, Sweep techniques, a Written Exam, Basic Refereeing and New Weapons.


One Black Stripe is given for Kusanku Kata, Basic Sai, Seiza and for definite improvements in the ability to convey knowledge to lower belts and to demonstrate skill in Kumite.  Bukai to present kata.


Another Black Stripe connotes a mastery of Sunsu Kata, all Bunkai, Basic Tuifa, Kusanku Sai, defense against weapons, Bo-Sai & Bo-Tuifa Kumite.   Assist to the Sensei.
Upon showing all empty handed kata, 1st Bo, Kusanku Sai as well as writing a Thesis on an aspect or the totality of information to be learned in the lower belts, the Black Belt is granted.
For the Second Black Belt (1 Red Stripe), the student must perform all empty hand kata, Urashi Bo, and service as an Assistant Instructor.  There is also a Thesis expected for this rank..
Sandan (3rd Black Belt) comes after 2 yrs as a Nidan.  Exceptions exist for Nidan and Sandan when the student shows the ability of these ranks under examination.  Shi Shi no Kun Bo & Thesis.
With the completion of Chantanyari no Sai and additional demon-strations of expertise as a black belt, a student is permitted to test for an obtain the Yondan or 4th Degree Black Belt.          108 Months
This red and white belt is given to a "Renshi."  This is a title, not a
rank but includes ranks from 4th through 6th degree black belt.





The 10th degree black belt is entirely red.  The Grandmaster belt is worn by persons who have founded a martial art form or inherited it.  The 10th rank is either head of system or "Soke."



For some styles, the white belt with black imprinting for the style on one end and the name of the individual on the other is given in recognition of being founder of  the system.  Then white is "Soke."    



      A Black Belt is actually the first ("Begin With One") serious student who is ready to really begin a study of the depth and breadth of Isshinryu (or any other style) Karate.  The Black Belt is always learning and refining techniques.  He or she is developing a deeper and more grounded sense of self throughout the growth process.  Discussions and polite exchanges with other Black Belts and with masters will allow the Black Belt practitioner to realize the unreachable perfection of a martial art.  Study is life long and the application of Karate to daily life, by the Black Belt, creates a remarkable individual whose abilities to deal with many kinds of interpersonal circumstances as well as life tragedies improves with age.
      The true master of karate does not seek to hurt nor to shame another.  He/She is a master of the selfish ego as well as a master of external circumstances.  "Karate Ni Sente Nashi"  karate does not strike first.
      This and many deeper concepts of life are embodied in the Tao (path) of the karateka and the wisdom ascribed to great masters of martial arts is something that transcends their ability to acknowledge it.  This is the paradox of mastery:  to know that there is always more to know.


 Sensei Gagnon's Martial Arts History

1958 - Began Kodokan Judo (Tyler Sensei),
1958 - Began Karate Do Shotokai (Persutto Sensei),
1965 - Shodan in Karate Do Shotokai (Persutto Sensei & Shiwara Sensei),
1966 - Ickyu, Kodokan Judo (Yanagi Sensei),
1969 - Nidan, Karate Do Shotokai (Shiwara Sensei),
1969 - Began Pai Lum Kung Fu (Dr. D. Pai),
1977 - Ranked to last White Sash before Red Sash (Dr. Pai),
1978 - Took time out from Kodokan Judo,
1970-1982 - Ranked by Shiwara Sensei and Hombu Dojo Shotokai through Sandan to Rokudan in Karate Do Shotokai,
1983 - Began Okinawan Karate, (Carlyle Sensei),
1984 - Took time out from Okinawan Karate,
1985-1992 - Studied Musu Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido, Shimabukuru lineage (Bohan Sensei),
1988-1990 - Attempted to restudy Shotokan (similar to Shotokai) but was drawn to Goju / Isshinryu / Shorinryu again,
1990 - Re-entered Okinawan Karate Do (Carlyle Sensei),
1993 - Shodan, Iaido (Bohan Sensei),
1994 - Began training under Brown lineage in Isshinryu (Zimmerman Sensei),
1998 - Reentered Kodokan Judo (as Ickyu)
2000 - Shodan, IWKA, Shimabuku lineage (Calandra Sensei),
2001 - Nidan, OKF, (Saini Sensei),
2002 - Sandan, OIKKA & OKF, (Harrison Sensei), also Sensei Certificate,
2002 - Shodan, Kodokan Judo, (Yanazuki Sensei),
2002 - Krav M'Gah (under Mossad trainers and then COL Avi T. (withheld for OPSEC)),
2000-Pres - Official Chief Judge / Judge / Ref at tournaments of the IKA, AOKA, IWKA, OIKKA and OKF
2003 - Studied in Uezu Lineage (Devine Sensei), 2003 - Yodan, OKF, Hohan Soken lineage (Premru Soke),
2004 - Godan and Rokudan, OKF, Accepted as Rokudan by AOKA Isshinryu                 2004 - Given Renshi Certificate, OKF, Accepted as Renshi by AOKA Isshinryu,                      2007 - Re-Joined IWKA and Re-Ranked through Yondan in IWKA form with upgrades given by time accrued from this point on (Shimabuku Sensei),
2007 - Founded the Okinawan Karate Association,

Total time in Martial Arts as of 2007 = 49 Years.
2008 is Sensei's 50th (Golden) anniversary in Karate and Martial Arts.