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Isshinryu No Megami or for short, Megami is the symbol of Isshin-ryu. It is represented on the Isshin-ryu crest and is often displayed on the front wall of the dojo next to a picture of Tatsuo Shimabuku. As an emblem for Isshin-ryu Tatsuo Shimabuku chose a half-sea-snake half-woman deity whom he had seen in a vision. She represents the strength of the snake and the quiet character of a woman, thus expressing the essence of the style.
Based on the ryuzu kannon (Chief Dragon deity of Japanese Buddhism), Originally the Isshin-ryu emblem was called Isshin-ryu No Megami, which means 'Goddess of Isshinryu.' Some Isshin-ryu karateka also call it Mizu Gami, translating to 'Water Goddess'. Eiko Kaneshi, Tatsuo's right-hand-man, who was a Shinto priest, was asked if it was Mizu Gami. He said it has nothing to do with water. Isshin-ryu no Megami, or Megami for short, is correct. This is coroborated by Marien Jumelet who asked Shinsho Shimabuku and Kensho Tokumura what was the correct name. The Goddess is the Goddess of Isshin-ryu karate and not the Goddess of water.
The Isshin-ryu patch is rich with cross-linked symbolism where certain features could and do have three or more intended meanings behind them. Between factions exist variations of the patch, the portrait of the Isshin-ryu no Megami, and the symbols contained therein.
The image represented at right is just one of the many versions of the Isshin-ryu no Megami. The ovular shape of the patch represents the characteristic vertical fist of Isshin-Ryu. The border of the patch is always a warm color - usually orange or yellow - and represents a ring of fire that appeared in Shimabuku's vision. The Megami is allegedly a mother protecting her child; she is gentle like a mother, but fierce and threatening towards enemies who may harm her child. In this simplified version of the Isshin-ryu no Megami, one important symbol is left out; in the traditional patch depicts the goddess with a raised right fist and a lowered open palm. Her hands represent a well-known saying among karateka: "fierce in battle and gentle in life." The small dragon above the goddess is a sea dragon of Oriental mythology, which was born at the bottom of the sea, but transformed by ascending to the heavens. The dragon is thought to represent Master Shimabuku. The rough seas and grey background depict a terrible typhoon, which represents the uncertainty of the future, and how trouble may arise spontaneously at any time. Finally, the three stars at the top of the patch represent the three tenets of Isshin-ryu: the spiritual, the mental, and the physical. Each of these core symbols are depicted in each patch, regardless of how different they may seem to the untrained eye.
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