Part of my martial arts journey was learning the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance Mission Statement after I became advanced in belt rank. I became familiar with it when I was a brown belt. As one of very few female karateka in our dojo, and (at that time) the only adult female, I wondered what exactly it meant “to bring sincere martial artists together in brotherhood.” It was that word brotherhood that made me curious. Did it mean that I was excluded? Was this a man’s thing?
I had seen Kaicho only once at that point. The first time I saw Kaicho was listening to what he had to say while a group of Headquarters black belts demonstrated. He had given me a warm hug when I was introduced to him after the demo. That had shocked me. My only other meeting with a high-rank black belt didn’t even include a bow (on his part) let alone a hug. Kaicho’s hug was a clue. But I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know what the Alliance was about…
Until… I went to test for Shodan (my first black belt) at Headquarters, at Summer Camp. Brotherhood was shown to me there, on my first visit to Headquarters. It was shown to me from the start and throughout the three days of camp. The alliance brethren made me feel welcome. They reached out and accepted me with no sign of discrimination based on sex. I learned what it means to come together in brotherhood. I made a lot of friends at that camp.
A Tradition of Bringing Martial Artists Together in Brotherhood
Happily, that tradition has continued. I have had many dozens of camps on the other side of the brotherhood equation. I’ve had opportunities to reach out to new brothers and sisters. I try to help them feel welcome. I believe I have done that for many. My social skills are not the greatest and I’m not the most gracious host. But I try and I think that is appreciated.
And even better news, the more I try to be a good Alliance sibling, the better I get at it. Like most things in life, the more you focus on and use a skill, the more you improve it for yourself. Now I continue to be proud to be a part of the brotherhood of the Alliance. I am proud to call my Alliance siblings my karate brothers and sisters!