Dojo Crest image

The symbol that is synonymous with Okinawan karate worldwide is the original coat-of-arms of the royal Sho family of Ryukyu, the "Hidari-gomon", found to be used extensively in dojo and association emblems. It was in use generations prior to being adopted by many karate dojo and associations as their official symbol.

There is an artifact pointing to King Shō Toku: Shō Toku, the last king of the 1st Shō Dynasty, was overthrown by King Shō En, 1st king of the 2nd Shō Dynasty in the late 1400's. Shō Toku‘s surviving retainers were buried in the “Tomb of the Hundred Anji”, located behind a hill in the village of Unten in Nakijin, northern Okinawa. Upon a part of a wooden coffin discovered there, the oldest instance of the “mitsu domoe mon” (三つ巴紋, “Three commas crest”) was found, worked out in golden color. It’s called “hidari-gomon” (左御紋) in the case of Ryūkyū, meaning “left-turning honorable crest”. And this is the same (basically) as the Hachiman crest.

Hidari-gomon image

Hidari-gomon, the coat-of-arms of the Royal Sho family of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Dojo Mon image

Our dojo crest consists of the outer area, the "Sakura" (cherry blossom), with the hidari-gomon in the center, with the kanji for Ryukyu Karate Kobudo beneath. The outer Sakura is interpreted as symbolizing a ring or circle of a family (Wa), within our dojo we have a feeling that all our members are part of the dojo family (kazoku). The Sakura consists of the five petals, symbolizing the "Godoshin" the five way path of Karate-do as written by Master Kenwa Mabuni.

The meaning of cherry blossoms in Japan runs deep, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death and renewal. Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.

We believe this makes the "Sakura" an ideal choice to be included in our dojo "mon"

The Hidari-gomon, we see as being a representation of the roots of our Karate, Okinawa. It has many intepritations but one explanation that was particularly interesting to me was the Okinawan folktale where they interpret the "Hidari-gomon" as representing loyalty, heroism, and altruism to a proud island people and their descendants. They believe it to be expressed through a past full of struggle and hardship, but also a willingness to face the difficulties ahead no matter what the cost. These virtues can be seen in our dojo today. There are times when hard training and attendance can be difficult, but with dedication and perseverance these difficulties can be overcome too.

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