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Karate Acronyms

The other day I happened to pass by a Karate class being taught at an elementary school. I could not see the students' patches and wondered what dojo it was. A student walked by me on the way to change, and I asked him the name of his dojo.

"ABC!" he replied with apparent pride and a hint of arrogance.

Now the real acronym was not "ABC". I made up "ABC" for discussion purposes only. But the student did state a collection of letters which were the first letters of his association name.

I wonder when it was that dojo names or associations became acronyms? When was it that a collection of letters meant something in Karate?

I cannot imagine Kentsu Yabu saying that he belonged to the "AIPTG" (Anko Itosu Private Training Group). Or Chojun Miyagi saying that he represented the "KHS" (Kanryo Higashionna Students). It sounds rather rediculous. Of course these great sensei would identify their teacher by name. They did not belong to associations, organizations or even dojo per se -- they were the personal students of a living, breathing, person -- a Sensei.

I have belonged to associations that were known by their acronyms. I always got the feeling that the purpose of such things was to distinguish "us" from "them". If we are proud members of the "ABC" we get certain benefits, such as the use of the "ABC" name, patch, logo, etc. Being a member of "ABC" meant something tangible.

I could imagine a student saying, "Oh no, I do not belong to ABC, we left that organization long ago. Now we belong to the ABF! Another might say, we left the ABF to join the ABK! The acronyms can be endless -- as can be the corresponding certificates, membership cards, patches, etc.

If a person punches you on the nose, you can't say, "but do you realize that I am a member of ABC?" If a brick falls from a roof and hits you on the head, it does not care that you are an ABC member.

To me, letters are just letters. Karate has nothing to do with such things.

Remember your Sensei's name. Remember to conduct yourself as a gentleman (or lady). OK?


Charles C. Goodin