I designed our school patch in 1996 after some thought and research. The
patch consists mostly of Chinese symbolism, but incorporates some others as
well. I wanted a patch that would be unique which our students could wear
and be easily recognized by others identifying them as our students. I also
wanted a patch that said Shorei Kempo on it as other existing patches did
not identify our style.
The brown bear was selected in part because it is an animal common to our
country and not just the Far East. According to the Chinese, the bear
symbolizes man (Yang) and represents strength/power and bravery/courage. The
brown bear is a ferocious fighter who often stands upright like man when
fighting. It’s a reminder to our students that one day they may have to
fight like an animal(bear). The brown bear is also at the top of the food
change where North American animals are concerned. This is important as I
have always enjoyed being near or at the top of the food chain.
The Okinawan symbol or “Mitsu-Tomoe” represents the 3 energies (Man – Earth
– Sky) in universal rotation.
In China this symbol is called “Triskele” and represents good fortune.
The Chinese calligraphy means Karate-Do or Empty Hand Way – the spiritual
path of karate.
The star symbolizes spirituality. A light in the darkness and wisdom shining
A star is also considered a badge of honor.
Three stars are used. There are 3 Chinese star gods known as Health, Wealth,
The number 3 also has other meanings:
Father – Son – Holy Spirit (Blessed Trinity), Birth – Life – Death, Mind –
Body – Soul (spirit), Past – Present – Future, Man – Woman – Child
The 3 stars are arranged in a hidden triangular fashion. It is hidden like
some of our techniques in Shorei Kempo.
The apex of the triangle points down symbolizing woman (Yin). Our (Julie and
myself) first Sensei in Shorei Kempo was a woman and I understand her to be
one of the first female Shodan’s in our style. My wife Julie, is also one of
the earlier female Shodan’s in Shorei Kempo.
A circle symbolizes unity. The shape of the patch involves two circles which
are joined or unified together. It represents the unity we have as a group
(our association/north and south). A large circle at the top and a smaller
one at the bottom. It’s a reminder of the soft circular movements
incorporated into our hard linear style. Shorei Kempo uses both small and
large circular movements. The shape is also unique and makes for a good
The patch has a total of 7 symbols (3 stars, 1 Mitsu-Tomoe, and 3
calligraphy). Seven has great religious significance. There are too many to
mention here. It’s reminder of Reverend Foster’s role in religion and
Seven has always been my favorite number since I was a child.
The colors used in the patch also have meaning:
The patch border and calligraphy are red which represents High Rank as well
as Life, Blood, Fire, Passion, and War.
The patch background is gold representing the Highest Value or Wealth and/or
a “Wealth of Knowledge”.
The lettering, stars, and Mitsu-Tomoe are in black which represents Honor.
Black is Yang.
The white in the Mitsu-Tomoe represents Purity. White is Yin.
Gary Rhyner Sensei