Ryukyuan Belt System

On the 17th of June 1961 karate masters from all over Okinawa gathered at the Yashio-so in Naha.  This meeting was to discuss the unification of Okinawan karate and to endorse it by using the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai as the governing body.  Karate Master Higa Seitoku assumed the responsibility as the 1st chairman of the association.

One of the items that was discussed during this meeting was the establishment of a Ryukyuan rank system that was different from the Japanese rank system.  What was discussed and decided upon was to use the colors from Shuri Castle and establish belts based on these colors.  The breakout was as follows:

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dan - Black Belt with a Silver stripe
4th, 5th, and 6th Dan - Black Belt with a gold stripe
7th and 8th Dan - Red Belt with a gold stripe
9th Dan - Red belt with a wide gold stripe
10th Dan - Solid Gold Belt

Many of the senior teachers in the group were awarded these new belts, and they continued wearing them throughout the remainder of their lives.  An example of this is Uehara Seikichi sensei, who was awarded a Gold Belt from the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai in 1964.

Photo of the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai from 17 June 1961

The Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai began falling apart in 1969 following the passing of Nakamura Shigeru.  Some of the senior teachers reverted back to wearing more of the Japanese style senior belts (red/white panel belt and solid red belts) within a few years after the association fell apart.

Gambatte Kudasai!!!