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Karate Monuments

When I went to Okinawa, I visited Karate monuments and tombs. I even took photographs with them. There I was smiling -- so happy to be there!

But I have admit that I felt a little troubled visiting the tombs (haka). I am not a relative. When my wife and I visit her mother's grave, it is because we are relatives. Relatives and friends visit graves.

Monuments are a little different. The monument to Chotoku Kyan in the parking lot of the municipal building in Kadena is not a tomb. Kyan Sensei is not buried there. The monument commemorates the life and accompliments of a great teacher.

These issues have special meaning to me. As the head of the Hawaii Karate Museum, I have been thinking about constructing a monument to Hawaii's early Karate sensei. This would be a major project, but it is something I could do, or help to do. With enough money and enough public support, it could be done.

Where to build it, how to design it, who to include? -- these are all questions that weigh heavily on my mind.

But then there is the issue of vandalism. How would it seem if we built a magnificent monument, only to have it sprayed with paint, chipped with hammers, or pushed over. Sadly, people do that sort of thing. And if we include one sensei but not another, would feelings be hurt?

A monument is a good idea, but there are so many factors to consider.

I cannot help but feel that the true monument to a great teacher is his students, and their students. What we keep in our hearts and minds is infinitely more important than what is chiselled in marble or granite. Karate is practiced in daily life. Perhaps that is the best monument, the best testament to a great teacher.

There is a place for monuments. I realize that. Perhaps one day...


Charles C. Goodin