Mizu Gami

Isshin-Ryu karate students that wear the Mizu Gami on their uniforms are often asked about the emblem. The emblem represents a vision that Master Shimabuku had in a dream while developing the Isshin-Ryu system. Master Shimabuku felt that the design symbolically expressed the ideas he was trying to accomplish and was adopted as the official emblem of the Isshin-Ryu system. The design shows a figure who is half sea-serpent in a turbulent sea. Her left hand is open and her right hand is clenched in a fist. A small dragon ascends into the darkened night sky toward three stars.

Symbolism of the Mizu Gami

The oval 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 patch depicts the figure with a raised right fist and a lowered open palm. Her hands represent a well-known saying among karate-ka: “fierce in battle and gentle in life.”

The small dragon 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 (Tatsuo – Dragon Man).

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. In relation to that, her calm face indicates that one must remain level-headed and calm in the face of adversity.

The three stars at the top of the patch represent the three main teachers of Shimabuku (not including his weapons teacher). They are also thought to represent the three arrows of karate (Mental, Physical and Spiritual).


*Isshin-Ryu karate students can purchase a Mizu-Gami patch as well as an Okinawan patch for their uniforms. These patches are optional for our students. If you would like to purchase one, please ask an instructor or see someone in the front office.