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If You Say It Enough...

My good friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata, often tells me that "if someone says something enough, they start to believe it."

In Karate, we are often exposed to high ranks, titles, positions, and claims of great exploits. Sometimes these things are true, but often they are exaggerated or even untrue. When someone puts such things in writing (or on the internet), they tend to take on a life of their own. If a person, for example, claims that he is a 12th degree black belt, and says and publishes it enough, he will start to believe it himself. After all, it must be true since it is in writing (even if he is the one who wrote it).

I was featured in a magazine article a few years ago about my Karate research. I got to look over the article before it was published, but not the photos and captions. I was horrified when one of the captions described me as a "Master." I quickly made a very embarrassed call to my sensei to apologize for the error. He mentioned that he had "noticed" it but did not want to say anything.

But suppose I reacted a different way. What if I thought that "Master" sounded pretty good. I could put it on my business cards, websites, articles, posters... I could even have a patch made for my gi. Pretty soon, I would think that I was a "Master!" What started out as an error, would become a reality... to me.

Of course, this did not happen. I have a problem with the term "Master." I think that the term "Sensei" is one each of us should strive to deserve.

But from time to time, it is good to take a reality check. Saying something does not make it so, even if you say it a lot.


Charles C. Goodin