What is the A in “A-Team”? And what does karate mean in Japanese?

This weekend, the movie box office belongs to “Toy Story 3.” But pop culture has a strange way of sticking around, like a soda bottle on the beach. Consider that two pretty silly slices of entertainment, “The Karate Kid” and “The A-Team”, have been around for more than a quarter of a century.

Since these two are going to be with us on cable and more for the foreseeable future, maybe knowing something substantial about them will help.

What does the A mean in A-Team? U.S. Special Forces calls their field units Operational Detachment-Alphas (ODAs), or A-Teams for short. The answer then is “alpha, sort of.” Real-life A-Teams and the A-Team from Hollywood both have personnel with specialized skills, but the similarities end there. Special Forces units are 12-soldier teams, and they don’t generally drive around in vans or have mohawks.

In the real world, A-Teams are supported by Special Forces B- and C-Teams. The B-Team provides operational support for the A-Team on the ground, and the C-Team is all about coordination.

We all know the word karate, and not just from “The Karate Kid.” In Japanese, karate means “empty hand, bare hand,” emphasizing the use of bare hands in a way similar to the use of weapons.

Does the name of Mr. Miyagi from the original film mean anything? Miyagi is a mountainous area on the island of Honshu.

Is the unusual medical procedure that Jackie Chan’s character performs with cups in the new version of the story a real practice? Cupping (as it is not surprisingly called) is an ancient technique practiced by many cultures, though Western medicine frowns on it. Click here to find out how it is supposed to work.

Will knowing these definitions improve your experience of “Karate Kid” and the “A-Team?” Judging by some reviews of the “A-Team” movie, maybe nothing can.