Friday, September 9, 2016

FACE-OFF FRIDAY: Is "Karate" a Generic Term for "Martial Arts"?

It's FACE-OFF FRIDAY!

In the United States and Canada, it's not unusual for martial arts schools to use the term "karate" on their signage or when advertising their schools.

This applies even if what is being taught isn't actually one of the arts we'd call "Karate" - it might not even be a Japanese (or Okinawan) martial art at all.

On the one hand, "karate" is a well-enough known term that most people outside our community understand what it means, and most people don't care whether or not what is being taught is Japanese.  I have been told by school owners a big advantage to using the word "karate" on building signage is that it's cheaper than, say, "taekwondo" because it has fewer letters!  The term "karate" is also very understood in social media, and is a popular "hashtag" (#karate) for anything martial arts related.

On the other hand, if you don't teach a Japanese martial art - if you're teaching taekwondo or something - it's not really accurate to call what you do "karate", is it?  Some of us would call it false advertising, and that using the term generically waters down the actual styles that really are Japanese empty hand styles ("real" karate).

But I want to know what YOU think.

IS USING THE TERM "KARATE" AS A GENERIC TERM FOR "MARTIAL ARTS" OKAY?