Seidokan karate, being an Okinawan system, uses a very simple belt
structure as do many of the older Okinawan karate styles. There are only
three belt colors before Black belt: White, Green, and Brown. (See the page
on Seidokan Belt Structure.) The new student progresses directly from the
White belt to the Green belt upon learning to perform the sequence of the
first kata, Seisan. Within the Green Belt there are 3 levels, and likewise
with the Brown Belt.
However, at present the Seidokan instructors throughout the world
have a certain degree of leeway as to the exact belt structure. This is
partly due to the fact that Master Toma cares more about the correct
teaching of technique at this point than administrative details and minutia
such as belt colors. As is pointed out in the page, "What Is Rank?", the
belt system is fairly new to Okinawa. When Master Toma began his training
there was no belt system. As a result, there are different factions of the
Seidokan organization who have used some of their own discretion in adding
belt colors. This allows for easier identification of levels for such
things as tournaments, as well as providing more frequent reward for
younger, or dare I say, less patient American students who are concerned
with such things as rank and status. As stated, Master Toma, to this point
at least, cares less about the color of belt a beginner student wears than
whether he is correctly learning the kata and techniques of the style.
In the University Karate clubs in Great Britain, the sequence of
the kata and the belts have been somewhat modified in order to be comparable
to and compatible with other karate styles, making the belt structure more
like the Japanese karate systems than the Okinawan. But the core and
techniques of the art are intact. Certain senior instructors in the USA
also have modified belt structures to fit their needs. In addition to the
page on Seidokan Belt Structure, you can see some of the variety by
exploring the other Seidokan site from the Seidokan Links page.
In spite of all this, Seidokan as a karate system is intact and when
brought together, all the instructors seem to be on the same page as to
technique and kata. There is now a growing movement toward standardizing
even more of the administrative issues, such as belt structure and promotion
standards and procedures, so that as Seidokan continues to grow, there is
more unity and uniformity. It is my hope that all the senior Seidokan
people will band together for the sake of preserving Master Toma's legacy
and art of Okinawan Seidokan Karate.