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Zen Do Kai is a freestyle martial art system which was developed in Australia by Bob Jones. The style was founded by Jones and Richard Norton when they left the Japanese Goju Kai karate dojo of Tino Ceberano.
Jones describes Zen Do Kai is an “open system”, and as such is “open to influences and ideas from all around the world”.
In 1970 Jones opened his first Zen Do Kai martial arts club at 48 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Jones states that it was originally intended to cater for those who worked in the security industry.
Zen Do Kai means, according to Jones, “the best of everything in progression”,  and its elements include self defence moves, kata, and strike work. It is set apart from many forms of traditional karate because it allows many techniques and practices used by Thai kickboxing. The Zen Do Kai philosophy encompasses the principle of “if it works, use it” and as such contains elements of a variety of other martial arts. Jones claims that Zen Do Kai takes elements from Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Eskrima, Judo, Karate and Muay Thai.
Zen Do Kai uses kata as a form of discipline during training and these kata have been selected for the aid in rudimentary development of stances and techniques. Most of the katas derive from traditional Okinawan styles of karate, reflecting Jones’ background in the 1960s.
Zen Do Kai also places a large emphasis on grabs and holds and other general close combat and ground fighting techniques, having adapted itself after the emergence in particular of Gracie Jujitsu and other forms of groundfighting largely unknown to the West until the late 1980s.
Zen Do Kai follows the classical martial arts model with a distinct hierarchy, a philosophy and the promotion of the ethical code of Bushido. Zen Do Kai schools place an emphasis on self defence but do not promote fighting or violence.
The web site of Bob Jones Corporation Pty Ltd claims that Zen Do Kai has clubs located in Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
The Zen Do Kai Crosses are part the history of Zen Do Kai tradition, they are awarded to Black Belt students, whose teachers feel have earned them, through demonstration of loyalty, strength and dedication, whilst following the path of the warrior.
The Cross is an important symbol of acceptance into the more senior levels of the Zen Do Kai family and exemplifies commitment to the protection and instruction of the brothers and sisters in the ranks of Zen Do Kai. The Cross itself bares its origins in the country of Finland and it has been embellished with geometric shapes symbolic of Senjo battlefield strategy and the words Bushido, Ishoa, and Kyunnin. These terms and the Crosses are explained here, the original Zen Do Kai cross was the square cross. It was modeled on the Finnish cross of bravery. Dave Milne and Bill Sabotka. During the sixties, as his security firm grew, Jones awarded more of the crosses to his personnel. The early seventies saw Jones engrave the word ‘Bushido’ onto the cross. This translates literally as ‘the way of the warrior’and the cross took on a slightly new meaning. The Bushido Cross (as it is still known) was presented by Jones to his higher grade Zen Do Kai students as a symbol of protection of the junior Zen Do Kai brothers (students in the ranks). This aimed to instill a incentive for every new student to maximise his efforts to gain acceptance in “the new family of security”. Today, Zen Do Kai practitioners train fiercely to earn the honour and privilege of being awarded the Bushido Cross. Which ever cross is awarded, the most important thing is the relationship between the instructor and the students. It is the meaning and intention of the awarding of the cross.
The round cross was introduced initially to acknowledge the understanding and commitment of the wives and partners of the security personnel in Jones’s protection interest, most of Jones’s security staff worked long hours, often six nights a week. The women folk received the small circular cross which identified them as ‘those who understood’. This cross was developed further during the seventies in Zen Do Kai and the word ‘Ishoa’ was engraved onto it. This means, literally, ‘enlightenment’, the perfect blending of mind and body. The Ishoa Cross was awarded to the “Karate wives” or to exemplify their understanding of the men folk training with Jones up to six nights a week. Soon the first wave of female Zen Do Kai students were also afforded acknowledgement as dedicated martial artists with the presentation of the Ishoa Cross and this cross took on a new meaning, its new reverence mirrored that of the Bushido Cross. It too, became a symbol of protection of the junior brothers and, now also, sisters, in the Zen Do Kai ranks. Today, female Zen Do Kai practitioners are awarded this cross for their fierce determination in training, dedication and commitment to Zen Do Kai. Just as the awarding of the Bushido Cross is a privilege and honour to Zen Do Kai’s male students, so too is the awarding of the Ishoa Cross to Zen Do Kai’s female students. Both Crosses are held in identical regard and esteem and are often awarded together in official ZDK family functions.
The belts colours, in ascending order, are: white, yellow, orange, blue, green, brown, black.
Although during some stages (the brown for seniors occasionally has a black tip, and juniors also have tips during lower ranks)
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