Friday, April 22, 2005

Karate, a blog, and MACU: Reminiscences

[Updated 23 Apr 05: Grammatical errors & minor factual addition on Hanyu Pinyin]

A rambling post about the Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Karate Club, Karate's origins, a blog, and M.A.C.U:

NP Karate Club: In my previous post, I said I was involved in the NP Karate Club as a student then (btw, this isn't about the story of how I ended up with the Club). Out of curiosity , I searched for "Karate club" from the Poly site and found this.

Was disappointed that the Karate folks don't have a webpage. I mean, the Ninja-do people got one! Lest you think I have some grudge with the Ninja-dos -- I don't. In fact, I had a friend with the Ninja-do club. Except that he was hardly seen around the club house... guess that's why they're called Ninjas, i.e. smokebomb-disappearing-acts! *ouch* (Sorry, Ninja-dos. Just kidding).

Karate originated from Okinawa. More about the art of Karate here, and here (warning: the second link has a really distracting red background).
Karate = 空手 = Empty Hand
Do (pronounced 'Doh' in English; 'Dao' in Mandarin) = = Way (i.e. Art of)
空手道 = The Way of the Empty Hand ('Kong Shou Dao' ~ HanYu PinYin)
During my time, the club was called "Karate-Do Club". Why did they karate chop drop the 'Do' now? "The club of the Empty Hand" isn't as accurate as "The Club of the Way of the Empty Hand". But I'm niggling here.

Karate-Club Blog: The club ought to have one. Would be an excellent tool to promote the club and correct popular misconceptions about Karate. If I were there, I'd volunteer to maintain a blog. Some likely posts would be:
  • Karate - It's not just "chop-chop" with the hands. We use our feet too!
  • The Karate Kid: That ain't real Karate! [I liked the movie. But having been exposed to some Karate, I watched the re-run with new perspectives and found the Karate moves really bad. Daniel-san's stances were all wrong. Ignorance was bliss, I tell you]
  • Don't mess with us: We're registered with M.A.C.U.

M.A.C.U: Stands for "Martial Arts Control Unit" (we called it "ma-koo"). During my time, anyone who took up martial arts had to register with the Registry of Societies. My club seniors told me it was because we were acquiring deadly skills. Should we kill or maim someone, our records could be traced. We had to be mindful about using our skills.

Woah, serious stuff man.

My seniors were not entirely wrong though. In the early 70s, Singapore had a problem with gangs and secret societies. Martial arts skills were used in gang clashes and to intimidate victims. The 1974 Martial Arts Instruction Act served to restrict secret societies from setting up or taking over martial arts organisations as a means to further their own ends.

The Act, deemed to have outlived its usefulness, was repealed on 16 Oct 2003, at the 3rd reading at Parliament. Here's what I dug up:
  • Martial Arts Instruction (Repeal) Bill [PDF], 28 Aug 2003. 1st reading of the Bill (no. 18/2003) - (for those unfamiliar with Singapore's legislation: We inherited the British Parlimentary system. The Bill is kind of like a paper/ proposal stating the intent).
  • Second reading of the Bill - Speech by Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, on 16 October 2003
  • Full official report of the Parliamentary Debates (vol 76, no. 22), 16 Oct 2003. This is the PDF; this is the google HTML version. Go to page 110 of the report (or page 114, inclusive of content page).
  • Martial Arts blog
  • History of National Registration Department - (scroll to the bottom of the page; brief mention about MACU)

Tag: , , , ]


  1. Anonymous10:39 am

    this really a bit too dramatic and the bills are quite stupid

  2. Well they have been repealed.

  3. Anonymous11:41 am

    if you like to talk martial arts come join us at


Join the conversation. Leave a comment :)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.