Our patch features the Koi and Dragon. Eric and I feel the legend behind the two parallels the path of a martial arts student and we want to honor the journey we all take. The legend is as follows:
There once was a giant school made up of thousands of koi fish swimming up the Yellow River. As they swam they gained strength by pushing against the current. However, on the Yellow River, there is a waterfall. Once the fish reached the waterfall, most turned back and just went with the current because it became too hard. The ones that remained continued to try and reach the top of the waterfall. These koi kept trying for a hundred years. At last, one koi successfully leaped to the top of the waterfall. To reward this dedicated koi, the gods turned it into a beautiful golden dragon. The falls have become known as the “Dragon’s Gate.” And legend has it that to this day, any koi that has the strength and perseverance to complete the journey up the Dragon’s Gate will become a heavenly dragon.
Pictures of the fish swimming upstream signify the strength and perseverance to fight and overcome obstacles. These are the qualities of a martial artist. It is also said that if a koi is caught, it will await the cut of the knife and not quiver with the bravery of a samurai warrior facing the sword in battle. This clearly portrays the cultural beliefs in the strength and courage of the koi and the martial artist.
It was a great honor that the koi were transformed into dragons. Dragons represent wisdom, benevolence, generosity, and strength used for good. They also stand for rebirth or a new start/beginning. As black belts, we begin a new path of understanding. When dragons are together with koi it’s easy to see that they signify transformation. As martial artists, we transform every time we train. We transform our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our souls and we become better people.