Shihan (shee-hahn) Hirogawa, correclty pronounced Hirogawa Shihan, means Master Hirogawa (a family name); this is what the orange letters on the belt say. I received this belt in December of 2005 in promotion to Black Belt from my judo instructor Robert Brink. This was one of three belts that he trained in. He himself received this belt from Ken Kuniyuki Shihan, a 9th degree black belt (you can only go to 10 in judo) on the occaision of becoming the first caucasion president of the United State Judo Federation. Mr. Kuniyuki was instrumental in bringing judo from Japan to the United States, particularly Southern California and Washington state. Mr. Kuniyuki received this belt from Mr. Hirogawa, though I know nothing of who he was.
So, Hirogawa Shihan wore this belt for many years and then passed it on to his student Kuniyuki. Kuniyuki Shihan wore this belt for a while and then passed it on to his student Mr. Brink (now a 6th degree balck belt). Brink Sensei (teacher) wore this belt for a while and then passed it on to his student … me! So, it’s not hard to imagine what I will do with the belt.
As I have thought about this belt and the many judo lessons, judo fights, the sweat, the blood, the perseverance, the triumphs, the struggles, etc. that this belt has seen and symbolizes I have thought about what we call in church language ordination. In a year (or two or three) I will be ordained. You see, this guy named Jesus called 12 followers and blessed them and gave them authority to carry on his mission here on earth. They in turn called followers who became leaders, blessed them and gave them authority to carry on Jesus’ mission who did the same and so on and so forth. I will receive this blessing and authority one day and Lord willing pass it on another day.
I am humbled by the belt I received, but am amazed that Christ’s mission continues to be lived out and I am so thankful I can be a part of that.
In praise of Christ!