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Many years ago I was asked to prepare a journal for the visit of a senior Karate instructor. It was a big job involving a demonstration and advertisements, and I also had to write some background information about this instructor, which was pretty easy because he was very well known.

At one point, someone reviewed my draft of the journal and asked "why didn't you put 'Grandmaster' before his name?" As it turned out, I was supposed to have known that this instructor was a "Grandmaster."

What is the term for "Grandmaster" in Japanese or Okinawan? Is there such a term, or is this an American term that we have adopted for great Karate people?

Is a "Grandmaster" a "Hanshi" or a "Judan"? What is the standard?

Please answer this question. Who was the founder of Goju-Ryu?

Did you answer "Chojun Miyagi" or "Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi"?

Who introduced Karate to the Okinawan school system?

Did you answer "Anko Itosu" or "Grandmaster Anko Itosu"?

If Chojun Miyagi and Anko Itosu were not Grandmasters, then who was? Wasn't it enough for Sokon Matsumura to be called "Bushi"?

Is a "Grandmaster" someone who has produced a student who is a "Master"? Then what happens when the student himself produces a "Master"? Does the "Grandmaster" become a "Great Grandmaster"?

Is there no end to this?

Don't get me wrong. In some arts there may be an appropriate title of "Grandmaster". But in Karate, what is the historic basis for it?

Karate students should hate titles and love training.

Here in Hawaii, when people speak about Sensei Tomu Arakawa, they always say, "he was a real gentlemen." Now there is something worth striving for!


Charles C. Goodin