Last night Matl Sensei informed my that it was time to promote one of my students to shodan - black belt. I respect Sensei's opinion. I do not do any grading of my own group. I let my seniors decide on all gradings for the people that train with me.
I have long dreamed of having a artistic certificate for the aikido group that I teach. I have only had two guys so far reach this grade, and I have never made a certificate before. I have long been disappointed in most certificates - I don't want to hand my students and friends a photocopy, I want to hand them a piece of art as a reward for the art that they have developed in their own practice.
This is made from the canvas that covered the floor of the dojo I first learned aikido on in Lewisville, Texas. Years later, after my sensei gifted it to me, it became the floor covering of my first dojo in Austin. Sweat, blood and a lot of training stained the canvas. It is now the fabric that makes the certificates for the unfortunate few that call me teacher. It has 'ki'.
The symbol is ancient Chinese for 初. It means beginning or first rank. The pictograph is scissors cutting into cloth as a beginning of making clothing. Cool. I love getting into the old Chinese meanings of words. Poetry.
Eventually the bottom right will be covered in signatures of high muckity-mucks.