The Meaning of TETSU-DO-KAN

To understand the Tetsudokan Jujitsu patch we must look from the center outward. The top KANJI (character) in the center is BU (Martial). BU is actually made up of two characters that mean to stop the spear, referring to the defensive and protective nature of genuine, traditional martial arts training. The bottom character is DO (Way, referring to the Way of Martial Arts and of life; Tao in Chinese).

The red and white circle represents my teacher Master Higuchi's rank belt. The color white to Japanese typically signifies purity, innocence, sacredness, cleanliness, while red often refers to the inflamed ardor or zeal of one's training. Together they balance each other out in a harmony or duality of life, expressed as IN YO in Japanese or YIN YANG in Chinese.


Master Higuchi's Dojo was the name of our school for almost twenty years. DOJO refers to a school or training hall. It actually means a place for studying the Way. The two flowers at the bottom and to the left and right of Dojo are KIKU, chrysanthemums, which are the symbol for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, from which Capt. Higuchi retired after 27 years of distinguished service. The KIKU are also the symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family. They represent the sun, perfection, and nobility.

The outside black circle contains TETSU-DO-KAN: TETSU (from Sensei's first name, Tetsuya), DO of the Way, and KAN is a large hall or building. It is the same character as the KAN of Shotokan (a style of Japanese karate) and Budokan (large martial arts and exposition pavilion in Tokyo).

TETSUDOKAN to us is a large place for learning Master Higuchi's Way of Martial Arts. It is placed within the outermost circle of the patch to show that our training is the end result of a lifetime of dedication to martial arts training, much as a mighty oak is the result or end product of a tiny seed. We have grown out of the seed of Master Higuchi's Dojo and his teaching, his humility, his kindness toward all that were fortunate enough to learn from him. I am often reminded of being in the old Dojo talking to visitors when Sensei (teacher) would come in wearing his baseball cap and unpretentious clothes. They wouldn't give him a second look. Who did they think he was, our Mr. Miyagi repairman? Our gardener? They had no clue. We are a KAN or large building (implying organization, association, group) because we welcome everyone to join us in training, in experiencing the often life-changing exhilaration of discovering ourselves through Budo (Martial Way).

When you look at the patch, you can see three concentric circles: a circle, within a circle, within a circle. They all have a common center, Budo. It's like the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. First bujutsu (Martial Art), then budo (Martial Way), followed by Master Higuchi, and for the present moment enveloped and finalized by Tetsudokan Jujitsu International.

The ENSO or circle is very popular in Zen, and Shodo (Japanese calligraphy, writing with brush) and has many meanings: strength, enlightenment, void, perfection, the universe, elegance. Sometimes the circle is left open, to indicate man's imperfection. The circle is considered an expression of the moment. This is what it is, at this moment, but like all things, it will change and evolve. Even with three closed concentric circles, we know that we will be followed by yet another circle. That circle will be comprised of our new experiences, new students, new insights.

The circle has no apparent beginning or ending. It transcends distance and time. Similarly, our training never ends. It is not the destination but rather the journey that we are concerned with. Our destination is the perfection of self, but our journey, training, is never ending and has in fact its own existence. Our technique, like our existence, can never be perfect, but we can experience a near-perfect journey.

Finally, take note that the letters for TETSUDOKAN are white to remind us of our pure and innocent intentions as beginners, since we are just starting out on this new MICHI (path). I couldn't resist this little play on words, since MICHI is sometimes used in place of DO (Way, Tao in Chinese).

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
The Meaning of TETSU-DO-KAN July 28, 2014 7:25 AM Gary M.
Class and Training FAQ July 26, 2014 1:39 PM Gary M.
About Tetsudokan Jujitsu July 27, 2014 6:44 PM Gary M.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy