I have started reading Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru manga, and there is this title "OB" for some kind of teacher or guardian, like I supposed to understand what it means.

Google Translate doesn't know it, googling "karate ob" goes to "obi", and I can't find any translator's note.

page where the term occurs

Well... being an OB, I really didn't want to get involved in such trouble, but...

(bottom-left panel)

  • This should probably be asked in (migrated) Japanese Language Usage stack exchange. FWIW, I believe the term means "old boy" which is used to refer to alumni of male only schools.
    – ton.yeung
    Apr 3 '16 at 1:41
  • It might be a Martial-Arts related expression. I have also found an Urban Dictionary post for Old Boy, but at chapter 30 page 4. There is a sentence: "Akida-Sensei the examiner, is the OB of the Reinan Second Karate Club" Like, there can be only one OB for a club ... so unless graduation is a battle royale like elimination, i don't think it means alumini, and there was a old lady ob if i'm not mistaken.
    – Ba. Ka.
    Apr 3 '16 at 1:53
  • 3
    @Ba.Ka. No, it's definitely "old boy". The use of "the OB" is presumably an error on the translator's part. Japanese does not have articles (a/an/the), so the translator seems to have picked one at random ("the"), but chose wrong. Despite the term coming from English "old boy", it can be used for women as well (though a rarer parallel term "OG" [from "old girl"] also exists). Keeping "OB" in translation is a poor choice, since it doesn't mean anything in English, despite having an English veneer to it. (Apparently the Brits say "old boy" for "alumnus", but they'd never abbreviate it to "OB".)
    – senshin
    Apr 3 '16 at 2:57
  • 3
    @senshin Why not post that as an answer?
    – giraffesyo
    Apr 3 '16 at 3:02

According to the Oct. 1965 issue of Black Belt magazine:

Beginning of (the Second Sino-Japanese War) in 1940, about 30% of Japanese colleges and universities had campus karate clubs allied with one or another of four principal schools of karate, referred to as "ryu." In addition to the club on campus, each of these universities had what is referred to as an "O.B." karate club. "O.B." here stood for "Old Boys" and was made up by the particular school's alumni.

These OB clubs typically served as advisors for the student clubs. So "OB" here most likely refers to alumni, a graduate or elder disciple and liaison of sorts of that particular school, some of whom might later become instructors.

It would make sense, judging by the notches on Tachiyama's belt that he's a senior amongst the Judo club.

Here are the original pages for reference:

chapter 3, page 81 chapter 3, page 82


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.