A Stream Of Consciousness For Consideration By A Concerned Karate-Ka : Part 2

< Continued from PART 1 >

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, the governing body need to be :

  1. ATTRACTIVE to all (so that they want to join!!)
  2. So undeniably legitimate that karate-ka simply have to join, with the full backing and support of the ENTIRE karate community, not just selected ‘majority’.
In order to secure the wide support that will give the body an immediate critical mass the sempai/kohai culture so ingrained in karate needs a ‘universal’ sempai. This figure should be a non-executive President that commands the respect of the majority. Figures such as Jamal Measara Kyoshi of Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Seibukan (currently residing in Germany), one of the most respected non-Japanese karate-ka even in Okinawa, Paul Chin Shihan of Sabah Karate Association or George Tan Shihan of Shito-Kai Malaysia would be suitable candidates. This ex-officio presidential post would serve to sense-check the decisions of the executive, whilst remaining non-political or non-aligned to any particular group or party.
Secondly, there should be a commercial/advertising & promotions officer. This post would undertake both duties that presents a publicity and marketing public face of Malaysian Karate, and acts as a creator of revenue. There are two alternative sources of funding : Government & Commercial sponsorship. Why not take both? The governing body should accept government funding stream whilst developing its own sources of income. For example : merchandising – using sales of logoed goods at various festivals, tournaments, or conduct their own commercial courses and seminars open to all, not just ‘affiliates’ and tournament levies on independent tournaments (as currently practices by AAA for road races), sanctioned equiptment sales.
This financial independence and technical credibility would create a strong viable Governing Body, embracing both sport and traditional, as well as the infinity of shades along that continuum.
The current membership structure of MAKAF consists of :
  1. Ryu based associations (Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, etc)
  2. State based associations (Melaka, Sabah, etc)
  3. Royal Malaysia Police Karate Association
According to MAKAF, it will currently only accept new members who are State Bodies (at the moment, according to their website, the only states not included are Pahang, Terengganu and Sarawak) and are not accepting any based on ryu-ha. Those ryu-ha based associations are required to join the state ‘governing’ body. This poses certain questions :
  1. What of the associations granted national status by the Sports Commisioner? These are ryu-ha based associations that are granted to use of ‘Malaysia’ in it’s name and thus forming a national body for their association. What category do they fall under? What of ryu-ha based associations that are not granted national status, but are the sole representative of their of their ryu-ha?
  2. Why not carry a total restructuring of the membership structure? Meaning, leave only the state bodies and reassign the ryu-ha based associations to their respective states where they are domiciled. This raises another predicament. The domicile of such an association tends to be that of the ‘chief instructor’. If they same-said association also has a state based association registered in the same state, how then they stand in the state registration?
  3. Another alternative would be to have both state-level bodies and national-level ryu-ha based associations. The criteria in granting the national status must be crystal clear. To qualify as a national level ryu-ha based association, the organization must have state-level representation in at least 1/3 of the total number of states. Malaysia has a total number of 13 states plus 3 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya) : 16 constituents. I recommend that for any organization to qualify and be recognized as a National-level body it must have legal representation (registered with the Sports Commisioner) in at least 6 constituents. This raises the question of proxy registration, in which the state-level organization is registered only on paper, but have no physical presence (ghosts!!). IMHO, it then falls on the Sports Commisioner to ensure that these representations are genuine. The Sports Commisioner in it’s guidelines, specifically states that at least 7 persons are required to make up an association. I recommend that in addition, the majority of the group (4 persons) be practicing karate-ka and are domiciled in the state to qualify. This is to prevent proxy registrations. Ryu-ha based state-level associations may use the designation of X-Ryu Malaysia if they are the only and exclusive representative of the said ryu-ha in the country, but do not qualify under the 6 constituents requirement, and that status is not challenged by any other associations. One usable method is to announce intent to register by advertising in the newspapers (the way liquor licenses are issued). This provides some form of public scrutiny and only then in unofficial term. They may use X-Ryu Malaysia, but not X-Ryu Malaysia Association (or any form of its derivatives), and are not granted national status hence not qualify for membership in the governing body. If such organizations fall below the the required recommended 6 constituents, the Sports Commissioner then must not entertain requests for registration as X-Ryu Malaysia Association and any attempt otherwise should be punished swiftly and severely (ie, deregistration, no appeal). This is to discourage and prevent misrepresentation, intentional or otherwise by any organizations. For Example : X-Ryu has representation in Malaysia. The majority of it’s members and chief instructor are based in Sarawak. It can then be registered as X-Ryu Sarawak Association (XSA). XSA then must then register with the Sarawak Karate Association (SKA) to affiliate with MAKAF. 5 years down the road, X-Ryu expands to 3 other states. That still falls short of the required 6 states to form a national-level ryu-ha based association. It may use X-Ryu Malaysia but may not append the words association, federation, union or other forms of legal designation to it’s name. It cannot be officially listed as X-Ryu Malaysia Association.


How do we define a national governing body (NGB)? It must be transparent, accountable and open to scrutiny by the public. MAKAF has has done a great job so far, but even insiders agree that there is room for improvement. An qualified association should not be refused affiliation because it is the final say of the ‘supreme council’ with no avenue to appeal via the general meeting, to which the same-said council is answerable to (presumably). MAKAF, as an NGB should be accountable for any and all actions to the public, especially to the overall general karate community. If an organization has proper credentials and documentation, it should not be refused membership and any such membership application should be treated as a mere formality rather than a requirement. My recommendations for ‘proper credentials’ are:

  1. REGISTRATION WITH THE SPORTS COMMISSIONER : This should be current and active registration and any organizations being suspended, under investigation or has had it’s registration revoked must have it’s membership likewise suspended/revoked. This rule extends to the office holders in the NGB, as membership in the NGB is not a personal individual membership but held by their respective organizations.
  2. PROOF OF REPRESENTATION : Karate is a martial art of Okinawan and Japanese origin. But it since evolved into a worldwide phenomenon and many non-Japanese has gone on to form their own ryu-ha and association. As such, proof of representation either in the form of affiliation certificate or letter of appointment of representation must be included. This is to prevent the problem of an organization claiming to use the name of a legitimate ryu-ha, but in actual has no affiliation or the affiliation is not active and has been terminated and is not the proper representative of the said ryu-ha, and blocking the registration of appointed representative. Failure to provide the said document would render their registration revoked.
I respect and acknowledge that for some, karate is a sporting event, whilst for others it is a martial discipline. However for many, it is the combination of both. It is my firm belief that no matter their personal view of philosophy, the two ‘camps’ should unite under a common banner. The NGB, MAKAF, should function less as a regulatory body and more as a facilitator witha firm mission to unify the Malaysian Karate Community and not sacrifice the organic nature of karate that is ever evolving. No longer the ‘traditionalist’ shun the ‘sports-centric’ governing body.
< Read More in PART 1 and watch this space for upcoming PART 3 >

2 responses to “A Stream Of Consciousness For Consideration By A Concerned Karate-Ka : Part 2

  1. Pingback: A Stream Of Consciousness For Consideration By A Concerned Karate-Ka : Part 1 « Seiken Martial Arts Academy

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