Whenever we wish to present something of importance to a practitioner we hold a Presentation Ceremony. These are public ceremonies which other practitioners, families, and friends may observe, photograph, and record.
The most common use for a Presentation Ceremony is to bestow a newly earned ranking belt upon a student. Other nearly identical ceremonies may be held to present certificates or other forms of recognition to deserving practitioners.
We will cover how we conduct a Ranking Presentation Ceremony. These ceremonies are normally performed at the practitioner’s Dojo, but could be held elsewhere in special circumstances. The procedure is as follows:
- The instructor will arrange a mutually agreeable date and time with the student.
- The student may invite any desired family members and friends to visit the Dojo at the prescribed date and time. These visitors should be asked to arrive a few minutes early to ensure the ceremony can be conducted on time. There is usually other business that needs to proceed on schedule following the ceremony so promptness on the part of all parties is appreciated.
- Just prior to the actual ceremony the instructor will brief the student on what is required and what to expect during the ceremony. The instructor will also place the student’s new folded belt inside the instructor’s Gi top such that the belt cannot be readily observed.
- At the appointed date and time the senior practitioner in the Dojo will position himself or herself at the front of the presentation area and call out, “Please join us for a Ranking Presentation Ceremony,” or similar phrase.
- All activities in the Dojo will pause so that everyone can gather round to observe the ceremony and prepare to offer support and congratulations. Junior students should sit in Seiza or another approved sitting posture in preparation for ceremony. Senior members (instructors and Brown Belt ranks and above) will normally stand in a ready stance. All Mudansha practitioners will sit if the subject of the presentation ceremony will receive a Yudansha rank.
- When everyone has settled into position the instructor and student will bow and enter the training or presentation area. They will then stand side-by-side before the senior person present and bow (Ritsu Rei) in unison.
- The instructor will then turn and move in front of the student and initiate the Standard Salutation to formally begin the session. The student will simultaneously perform the Standard Salutation.
- At the conclusion of the salutation both instructor and student will concurrently establish the Formal Seiza posture.
- After a few seconds the instructor will initiate Za Rei. The student will concurrently perform Za Rei.
- At the conclusion of the bow the instructor will, using his or her right hand, point to the student’s Obi. The student will now remove and fold his or her existing Obi and place the belt, using the right hand, just forward of his or her knees such that is aligned along the local octagon three and four angles. The student will then press the belt forward until it is within reach of the instructor.
- The instructor will, using his or her left hand, retrieve the belt and pull it to his or her left side while it remains in contact with the floor.
- The instructor will retrieve the student’s new belt and place it on the floor on the instructor’s right side. The belt will then be moved to a position just forward of the instructor’s knees and aligned along the local octagon three and four angles. Using his or her right hand the instructor will press the belt forward, while in constant contact with the floor, until it is within reach of the student.
- The student will grasp the belt with his or her right hand and pull it in until it is just in front of his or her knees. The belt will then be pulled to the student’s right side and the student will place both hands on his or her thighs.
- After a few seconds the instructor, using his or her right hand, will point to the student’s new belt. The student will now unfold and tie the belt around his or her waist. While this is occurring the instructor will pick up the student’s old belt and place it inside the instructor’s Gi top in a manner similar to how the new belt had been stored. For students who experience difficulty with tying the new belt the instructor may slide forward to lend assistance, then slide back when the belt is secured.
- When the belt has been tied the instructor will again initiate Za Rei and both instructor and student will perform the bow.
- At the conclusion of Za Rei both student and instructor will rise in unison from Seiza. The instructor will extend his or her hand so that both instructor and student may shake hands. The student must remember to rest his or her left hand over top of the two right hands.
- All observers may now clap or otherwise show their appreciation and congratulations as is customary in the Dojo.
- The instructor will then pose for an obligatory pictures with the student and his or her family.
- As the festivities come to an end the instructor will retrieve and return the student’s original (previous) belt to the student.
While this ceremony seems long it seldom takes more than a minute or two. Instructors become practiced at performing this ceremony and can readily guide students through the process without much difficulty.
Other presentations ceremonies are similar but will have slight procedural variations to accommodate alternate presentation purposes.