We have also selected people outside of our dojo to be nominated and voted on to receive the Dragons Forever Tab. The nominations and voting will be by Dragon Dojo tab holders only. Recipients must receive a 100% yes vote from the group. If an individual does not receive a 100% "yes" vote after 3 nominations they will be permanently ineligible to receive the tab. Nominations will be based on that person or person's involvement with the Dragons, as mentor and friend. It will go to that master or sensei who has demonstrated their support and friendship for our dojo on an ongoing basis.
Below are the current "Dragons Forever" tab holders. They are in the order of which the tab was awarded.
WHAT THE “DRAGONS FOREVER” TAB
First, let me address what it is, as this is what is important. I have done a couple of other articles on it, so most of you have a good idea what it stands for. It is first and foremost a way to recognize and reward dedicated black belts in our dojo. What I haven’t done before is go into detail as to the selection process. The black belts have to demonstrate dedication and purpose, then write an essay about it. It is a pledge of loyalty and intent, to make Isshin-ryu and Dragon Sen-I Jutsu a life long endeavor. It is worn as a reminder of that promise and returned to me should they choose to leave the dojo for any reason. Suffice it to say that, it is worn by the students with pride and almost reverence. It is a symbol of our mutual trust and value system.
Eventually it was decided that we would like to recognize people outside our dojo (that we strongly identified with as martial artist and leaders), by giving them a tab. I felt it was a good idea only, if it was kept under control and had a no nonsense selection criteria.
As more people receive the tab, it may be useful to say how they were selected. So no one gets the idea that it is anything about just popularity or friendship. In a way it is, because, not being liked is not much of a reason to nominate someone. Nominations and selection guards against the aforementioned by having the following structure in the selection process.
We only allow the black belts of the dojo to nominate and vote. Each person has only one vote; me included. People who vote “no” must say why but may not change their vote until the next time. You can only nominate the same person three times. If it is “no” three times, then that person can not be nominated again. So you need to be careful when and who you nominate. We use a general criteria to help us fairly consider and vote on a nominee. We ask first if everyone knows this person. I had three voted down because, five of the people were not even a student when one of them was coming around. The other was voted “no” because, people didn’t know much about him and couldn’t answer yes to a couple of the criteria questions. The last one was because of his lack of cross training, grappling interest. The black belts questioned how they can be a part of us if they don’t share our training interest. This prompted one of our criteria questions.
Below are the questions:
1) Has this person demonstrated an interest in our dojo? You must also know them to vote “yes”.
2) Do they involved themselves in any activity that our dojo is involved in?
3) Have they been to our dojo to either train, do a seminar, attend the dragon Jam, or invite us, or our sensei, to theirs. If so, when and how much?
4) Do they have a compatible philosophy to our training pursuits. Do they cross train?
5) To what degree do they train and how active are they?
6) Will they try to be a fit with the other tab holders? We give this one some latitudes and try not to take sides. It is based on our relationship with that person, no one else's. It’s just easier if they are on decent terms with other tab holders. But once again, not mandatory. We realize that some are not going to be great fans of the others. We have witnessed at the Dragon Jam where non-friend were still classy enough not to make others feel uncomfortable.
7) What is that person’s students like. Does or could a friendship with our dojo exist?
8) Last but not least: would you be willing to have this person as your sensei? This carries the most weight.
I realize it sounds like an interview for adoption. It is in fact, how much weight is put on the selection. The tab came along when our dojo was experiencing some disappointments in the leadership from some of our black belts and some of the Isshin-ryu community as well. So we devised this method of identifying compatibility inside and outside of our dojo. It was literally a rebirth of our direction and the accumulation of incredible outside support of both leadership and knowledge. For us, it took an individual endeavor like martial arts, (which tends to sometimes over individualize a dojo), and build a team concept.
So to us….as limited as words can describe, THIS IS WHAT IT IS…….
WHAT IT IS NOT!!!!!!!
(1) It is not an attempt to build an “association”. It is an attempt to build “associates” with similar interest, training protocols, direction and philosophies. As much as anything, they must be people who are still passionate about their training and the training of others. The associates are not looking for a leader or an association outside the present one they belong to. Being a Dragon doesn’t mean being a RED DRAGON. A Red Dragon is a member of our dojo only. The Dragon is a symbol. It is all the things Master Shimabuku stood for as a martial arts warrior, as evidence by his first name. A Dragon is a thing of mythical strength and ferocity. The symbol of the Dragon has lived forever under this image. The tab is our hope to each other and our associates, that we shall all be, “A DRAGON FOREVER.” While keeping our friendship, a forever thing also.
(2) It is not meant to be an, “I’m a Dragon and you are not” elitist message or attitude. We are proud of who we are and who has accepted our tab. But, it is not an, “us against them” thing, of any kind.
(3) It is also not an attempt to exclude any one based on a “you don’t measure up” message. There are many fine Isshin-ryu leaders that simply espouse a different philosophy. This eliminates them from consideration on that basis alone. Their friendship is extremely important, but we speak a different martial arts language.
(4) Lastly; for those of you who search for hidden agendas, there are none. It is, as is said. We make no apologizes to those not selected, as it would be an insult to those who are. It is our desire to have as many tab holders as the qualifications will allow. Perhaps our new Dragon Sen-I Jutsu system and its philosophies, will be an additional qualifying consideration. We have stepped outside the traditional Isshin-ryu box and are becoming more diverse in our training and disciplines. Choices make changes; so only time will tell.
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