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What is the Shinjinbukan?

In the year 2000, at the turn of the millennium, Onaga dai sensei presented each of his deshi with a new obi (belt) embroidered with the name, "Shinjinbukan". It was this gesture that signaled Onaga sensei's formal adoption of the name Shinjinbukan to represent not only his dojo in Naha City, Okinawa, but also the organization of schools that were beginning to form around the world. The name, in and of itself, represents how Onaga sensei sees the proper order of things, or perhaps more accurately the priority that he puts on things, from most to least important. Shin - God/Heavenly, Jin - Human/Civil, Bu - Martial, Kan - Hall.

Since the year 2000, the Shinjinbukan has continued to grow in size attracting students, literally from across the globe. However, the fact remains that Onaga sensei still has a very small number of deshi that he considers his direct students. The growth has occurred primarily as Onaga sensei's deshi have begun to teach the Shinjinbukan curriculum to their students. The growth in the Shinjinbukan, by commercial dojo standards, is unremarkable. However, from our own standards (most Shinjinbukan dojo are private dojo that do not make any money), the growth has been exponential in the past few years. Onaga sensei, recognizing the need for an organization to manage the inevitable growth, established the Kokusai Shinjinbukan and Kokusai Shinjinbukai, formally adopting By-laws and choosing a Board of Directors at the Kokusai Shinjinbukan's Seattle Gasshuku 2007.

The Shinjinbukan is, at its heart, a small group of dedicated students who are learning Onaga sensei's Ti, via the Shorin Ryu curriculum. Most dojo are closed schools, not open to the public except by appointment and the core of each dojo usually consists of between 6-10 students who are active in all aspects of dojo life (i.e. training, attending Gasshukus, visiting Okinawa occasionally, understanding and observing proper dojo etiquette, especially knowing one's responsibility to others in the Shinjinbukan). The training is normally conducted in the old-style of very small groups, each person learning at their own pace and doing as much as they can, given their body-type, ability level, age etc. The core of Shinjinbukan, however, and the thread that ties our karate together is Onaga sensei's Ti.

Training is rigorous and requires a lot of Shinjinbukan students. Onaga sensei has said, "Karate doesn't make good people, good people make good karate." The Shinjinbukan is not in the practice of using karate to help make better people. There is too much to learn and too little time to learn it in to spend time building people's self-concept or self-esteem. The purpose of training is to learn as much as we can as often as we can and then take what we learn and keep in trust for the next generations. We strive to continually polish what we know, keep fresh in our minds and bodies what we learn, and push beyond our limits to help our karate grow.

In the Shinjinbukan, we hold fast to the idea that, "tai wa kokoro arawasu - Your actions reveal your heart".

written by: Dr. Timothy Black

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