Motobu Choki Karate-My Art
His 1932 Classic ”Watashi
No Karate-Jutsu” & his 1926
publication “Okinawan Kenpo Karate-Jutsu”
Compiled & translated by Patrick & Yuriko
International Ryukyu Research Group
Softcover,120 pages, with more than 175 photos & illustrations
Review by Rick Reichert
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite karate books. It is really
a combination of two of Motobu’s book in one -- Motobu’s
classic 1932 text “Watashi No Karate-Jutsu” (My Karate) which
portrays his favorite kata, Naihanchi (Tekki in Japan) along with many
of its applications, plus his original 1926 publication “Okinawan
Kenpo Karate-Jutsu” outlining his twelve fighting drills.
But what I like most from this small but provocative publication is
that McCarthy also helps put this early Okinawan karate pioneer into
historical prospective. Included are essays and personal recollections
on Motobu by other karate-ka -- including Kinjo Hiroshi (the famous karate
historian), Marukawa Kenji, Miyahira Katsuya, Nagamine Shoshin (the famous
author and teacher), Graham Noble and Kayan Chotoku. Included too are
more than 175 rare photos and illustrations relating to Motobu, his technique
Readers will also find a translation of the famous and controversial
1925 King Magazine article about Motobu’s defeat of a boxer, an
article that substituted drawings of Funakoshi for Motobu. On one hand
this article propelled Motobu into public view, but it also helped fuel
the conflicting and simmering relationship between Motobu and Funakoshi.
McCarthy helps put this relationship into context in a chapter that in
part focuses on the relationship between these two great karate masters,
contrasting the two, their philosophies, approach and style.
When read cover to cover this book helps flush out the true Motobu for
readers, a man who is today being rediscovered by new generations of
karate-ka, and appreciated for his practical, no-nonsense outlook: a
person intensively focused on his art for its effective fighting techniques
and self-defense rather than its philosophy and theory.
Clearly, Motobu was one of the great pioneers of modern karate, a respected
teacher and proven fighter. He was also a man of great contrast. Despite
his Okinawan heritage of Okinawan nobility, having moved to Japan to
teach, he found himself at great disadvantage for not possessing fluency
in the Japanese language and its etiquette skills. So he did not easily
communicate. He also trained exceptionally hard, had few students, and
didn’t create an organization as others did. Thus the dimension
of his contribution to karate has been neglected for several generations.
This book helps put this genius into true historical perspective.
Modern karate-ka also often make the mistake of trying to understand
early karate through their current experience, practice and culture.
The technique demonstrated by Motobu within this book provides a unique
historical “window” through which the modern reader can perceive
the historical past – in terms of technique, applications, fighting
distances and movement. As a byproduct too, the reader will gain insight
on movements within kata, flushed out by Motobu in their fighting application.
This book is for those interested in old Okinawan karate technique and
fighting skills, those interested in karate’s history, or those
who want to learn more about its great innovators and teachers.