Do the mons go on the left or the right?

After the recent gradings I was asked the perennial question by one of my students - "Which side do my mons go on?". So I thought this was worth writing a little piece about.

In Japanese martial arts, mons are coloured stripes that are awarded to students who do particularly well during their grading (an assessment for a new belt). The stripes are sewn onto one end of a belt. In some martial arts they are used to show progress towards a new belt without actually assigning the new belt. In Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu mons are sometimes used for this purpose but more frequently they are used to indicate that the student simply demonstrated spirit, techniques, etc. above that required for their current belt; so similar to but not quite the same as demonstrating elements of the next syllabus.

In some arts mons are restricted to juniors. Shorinji Kan allows adults to be assigned mons at grades up to and including orange belt and for juniors up to and including green belt.

So with the purpose in mind where do the mons go when the belt is tied. Should they be on the left or on the right? Does it matter at all?

The mons are used to determine the order in which students line up together. The more mons, the higher the rank and the further to the right of the line a student will stand (i.e. lowest grades line up on the left and highest grades line up on the right). So having the mons on the left shows the lower grades the next level to which they should be aspiring. Of course having it on the right makes sense if you consider that the higher the grade the further to the right it is.

So which side is it? It's the left side.

As I've suggested, there's logic to wearing it on either side, but there are a few sources that back up this statement.

  • This is what my instructor told me when I asked him the same question. Just like the techniques I studied, this was just another thing passed down through the instructor/student lineage and I expect was what his instructor had told him (and so on back through the line).
  • The second is the Wikipedia page for The Jitsu Foundation. TJF is the governing body for Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu and an entry on the page states the following - "The belt is then worn so that the mons are displayed on the wearer's left.". Whilst you shouldn't necessarily believe everything you read on the Internet/Wikipedia this does corroborate my first source.
  • The third and final source comes from something I got with my first gi (Jitsu uniform). The old style of gi were custom made by a company called Carter and included a sheet entitled "Welcome to the Foundation". This sheet included details about how the various grades (including the old dan grade system) were indicated by gi and included an example photograph of a jitsuka with mons on his belt. The mons are on the left (see below and note the badge on the right shoulder so we know the image hasn't been accidentally mirrored).

Author: Stephen Millard.


All Change

This evening will be Sensei Stephen Millard's last session for a little while as he is to undergo some minor surgery that will put him on crutches for several weeks.  The city centre club will continue to run during his absence with Sensei Mags Godderidge and  Sensei Dax Godderidge covering some of the sessions and others being taken by Sempai James Davey and Sempai Matt Ellis under the supervision of Sensei Millard.


Yorkshire Senior Grading - December 2012

Today was the Yorkshire adults grading where students were assessed by Sensei John Allen for their next belts.  Whilst it wasn't quite a clean sweep across the board the standard of Jitsu was high and although there are a few technical points to pick up on in the coming months the results reflected the sterling effort put in by one and all.

Both York clubs have had significant success and a number of new belts will be present on the York mats in the coming week several of which sporting mons.

A special mention should probably also go to Leconfield where York based instructor Sensei Dax Godderidge had his first novices grade to Yellow.

Pass or not a great display of Yorkshire based Jiu Jitsu from everyone.


Yorkshire Junior Grading - November 2012

Congratulations this week go to Jake who is the town club's newest green belt.

The Yorkshire junior grading was held last Saturday at Bradford Grammar School and was taken by Sensei Mark Newall.  There was a stunning display of junior Jitsu with Sensei Newall commenting that the pressure test fighting at the end was the best junior Jitsu he'd ever seen.

All of the clubs in attendance (which included Preston as well as the Yorkshire club junior contingent) did incredibly well with every club walking away from the grading with at least one or two jitsuka who were really standing out in terms of their spirit, attitude and skill.  York may have been the only York student this time around, but he came away with top green belt - exactly the kind of standard we love to see.

So well done to everyone who graded and we look forward to more of the same at the adult grading in Leeds in a couple of weeks time.


New Web Site

For those of you who have visited the site before you may notice it looks a little different.

The site has been migrated to a new web host and web site platform.  Unfortunately this means that the site is a bit rough around the edges at the moment and not everything that was on the previous site has yet been transferred over.

The plan is to slowly improve the site through small iterations to improve both the design and the content (including lots of new and member only content).  We hope it will be worth the wait and that you'll bear with us through the development.

This migration should resolve the security/malware issue that befell the site on the previous platform.

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