There is a phrase in Japanese "Tan Ren". It holds the meaning of developing or forging or tempering. This can be specifically tied to the making of the Samurai Sword - the Spirit of the Samurai. In Japanese the word "Do" means "the way". For example, Karate-Do means "The way of Karate".
When we begin the journey of Tan Ren Do, we are like pieces of unrefined metal, loose pieces, without true purpose until we are made into something more. This forging process refines and tempers our inner self. The true warrior craftsman spends his time wisely, every step and detail is used to shape the kind of sword we will ultimately become.
We don't know how long it will take us to become a Black Belt, but it really doesn't matter. Every day we step onto the mats is another day of forging. To some you might have the appearance of being the completed Samurai Sword ready for battle, to others more deep refinement is needed. One thing is certain, the sword must always be sharpened, always polished, because it is always being used. In this way Tan Ren Do is an everlasting process with no real end. There is always daily forging and refinement.
The Tan Ren Do Karate emblem consists of a dragon around a central flame. The Kanji representation of "Tan Ren Do" is also included in the upper right. The flame represents the living fire within each of us. It also symbolizes the forging or tempering process that each student goes through in their personal journey to refinement. The Chinese dragon exemplifies the ultimate symbol of Chi (energy) and embodies great power and ideals. The Chinese dragon symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles to achieve success. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious. The combination of these two symbols suggests that the ongoing tempering process of Tan Ren Do helps students strive to achieve the extraordinary qualities embodied by the Chinese dragon.
Tan Ren Do techniques include the strong kicks of Korea, the rapid and exacting movements of Japan, and the fluidity of Chinese styles. A typical Tan Ren Do technique is a powerful side kick which utilizes full extension of the hip and strikes with the heel, yet does not waste excess time and motion on the fold. Snapping backfists and swift front and spinning kicks give the style its share of Japanese influence. Evasive circular blocks and graceful crane stances are also part of the style.
Belt ranks in Tan Ren Do range from white, gold, green, blue, brown, and finally black belt as in some other styles. The length of time required to earn a Black Belt in Tan Ren Do range from 3-5 years, slightly longer than for most other styles. Much work is expected from students for each belt rank and examinations are extremely demanding, in order to be promoted, the student must have sufficiently mastered progressively more advanced techniques, fighting and katas. Martial arts philosophy becomes more important in advanced belts, and continuity of mind and body begins to appear in techniques and forms.
The repertoire of Tan Ren Do kata includes the system's original forms, plus traditional kata from Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Okinawan systems. The four initial kata are all H-shaped and are named Kibon (1-4) - placing an emphasis on basics. Advanced kata include Pyung Ahn (1-5) - which place an emphasis on being balanced both mentally and physically. Advanced students are also introduced to traditional forms from other systems, including Bassai, a kata which is taught in both Japanese and Korean styles, and Tekki-Shodan of Tae Kwon Do, The ancient Kanku-Dai and the relatively modern Choong-Mu (developed by Jhoon Rhee) are also taught.