Made My Own
That big one in the banner above is my Yondan (4th Grade) certificate. It is from a template I made in 2009 for my Sandan (3rd Grade). The design is relatively simple but has a very professional look. At the top is “Certificate of Merit” in English, mirrored by the larger kanji “Sho” on the right hand side. The left hand side is in English and explains that the recipient (me) has earned the above rank (Yondan) and all the rights that come from it. At the bottom is the name of my instructor’s organization (United Martial Arts Academy) and his signature and rank.
On the right hand side is the Japanese translation (I’m sure someone will notice I mistranslated something). To the left of “Sho” is my name in katakana. To the left of that is two lines saying that the previously mentioned person (me) has received the rank of Yondan. These lines are courtesy of Rob Redmond and his instructional article on how to read your black belt certificate.
The next line is the date (24th year of the emperor on the 7th month of the 20th day). The last two lines say that this is signed by the head of the United Martial Arts Academy (Institute) and then my instructor’s name in katakana. Other interesting things on there are the certificate number on the far right (number two), my chop (stamp) in red on the far right, my instructor’s school chop to its left, my instructor’s chop to its left, and then a Shorin-ryu chop on the far left. The three pictures are arbitrary and purely cosmetic. I went with a koi fish instead of the dragon in the bottom left to make this certificate look different from my last one.
Now for the important part – the price! I paid $1.06 USD to print my certificate at a local Office Max (they did a great job by the way) and another $11.30 USD for the frame at WalMart. I have heard of other 4th Dan’s paying upwards of $400 to have theirs registered in Japan or Okinawa. That is six years worth of website costs! No thank you.
Make Your Own
If you run a martial arts school and are more concerned with providing a service to the people in your community than some big organization back in Okinawa or Japan, then please look into making your own certificates and saving your students a lot of money. They are the ones who end up paying to “register it”.
For those of you who want to make your own but don’t have any creativity – shoot me an email and I may be able to help out (rush delivery unavailable). I will send you the files for free and you just have to swing by somewhere like Kinkos, Office Depot, or Office Max and have them print it out for you on 17” x 11” paper. Save a few hundred dollars and help pay for classes for a kid who could use a positive influence in their life.