View Full Version : Choki Motobu's Karate

29th May 2003, 05:05
I bought the video on Motobu-ryu from dragontsunami.com and I was very impressed with the simplicity and effectiveness of the technique and kata. This proved to be a great contrast to the current art I am taking, taekwondo, which I realize now is little more than an Asian version of Billy Blanks Tae-Bo.

I've done a lot of research, and most sites say that Choki Motobu knew naihanchi and bassai, while others say that he only knew naihanchi. I've read that the Naihanchi III was considered a new invention, but does anybody think Motobu at least knew? Still, there is one site that says that he knew Gojushiho also.

Is there a relation between kata and kumite? Is there any point to learning a lot of kata?


book worm
31st May 2003, 02:02
I also own the video.you may like to check out the hawaii karate seinenkai web site, they also have some info on Motobu. They also have a link to a patrick McCarty site to purchess a translation of Motob's book. I have't orderd this book yet myself.

I was always taught that katas not only taught techniques but also principles of a styles form of combat.
I was also taught the the Naihanchi kata is desingned for inclose fighting 18" roughly from your enemy.

I personly belive that Motobu knew other kata but Naihanchi was his favorite and worked the best for him.

31st May 2003, 14:37
I recently purchased this publication and was impressed with the depth and quality of his work. But then again, I felt the same way about McCarthy's Bubishi, too.

Originally posted by book worm
They also have a link to a patrick McCarty site to purchess a translation of Motob's book. I have't orderd this book yet myself.

book worm
1st June 2003, 02:08
I also enjoyed and reread McCarthy's BUBISHI.

1st June 2003, 03:04
Did Motobu-sensei know naihanchi sandan and bassai? Or did the video leave certain things out? Did the video really cover the whole Motobu-ryu curriculum?

1st June 2003, 14:46
From what I have read, Motobu knew alot of other katas but would only teach Naihanchi first until they mastered it before moving on.

Tracy's Kenpo has a tape they sell that has Motobu's son on it teaching Naihanchi kata 1&2 on it and also his kumite techniques (the ones in his book). It is very inexpensive as well.

Motobu had a family style that was only taught to the oldest child and Choki learned some of that and from what I have read is where alot of his tuite knowledge came from.

1st June 2003, 15:23
Shigeru Nakamura is said to have learned the three Naihanchi kata (Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan) from Choki Motobu. Here's a lineage chart indicating as much:


Mark Bishop's book has information on the Motobu art form. IIRC, Choyu Motobu was the eldest and received instruction in it. Choki was shut-out and had to seek others for his instruction. As good as Choki became, it's my understanding that Choyu still outclassed him for technique.

Choyu's heir had no interest in learning the family system. Seikichi Uehara then became Choyu's student. If he's still alive, he must be pushing 100 or so now.

I recommend reading Bishop's book to learn more. The title is Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles, and Secret Techniques and can be found on Amazon.com.

4th June 2003, 02:52
So did Motobu-sensei know Matsumura Bassai or Oyadomori?

Also, did he know Gojushiho? According to other sites on the web, Motobu was known for his ti-like intrepretation of the Okinawan kata. Since Gojushiho is supposed to contain a whole system of ti itself, does it seem probable that he knew this kata?

Jock Armstrong
10th June 2003, 05:43
From what I've read, Choki Motobu only knew Naihanchj and perhaps one other kata. He was the proverbial "black sheep" and was down the docks picking brawls with foreign sailors rather than formally training. His father refused to teach him the family system and Choki only got some of it by peeping through chinks in the fence. What he did do was prove that a determined fighter with well honed simple tech could be very effective. Later, he learned a lot from other Okinawans and was just as legit as any teacher of the time. Something that is almost forgotten now is that the teacher didn't teach a student all the kata available. they picked some according to the student and taught them those. Naihanchi is an exceptionally good kata for stocky students, using short, snapping tech. [telephone box kata- imagine doing the hammerfist with the reciever in your hand...]
Also, teachers would send students to other instructors for special tuition. chotoku Kyan was renowned for kicking, Motobu as a power puncher etc. As the quote from Miyagi says, these guys were continually evolving their systems, taking in new tech which corresponded with their system concepts.

book worm
11th June 2003, 01:11
Even with his supposed lack of knowlege he was a sought after teacher.He was known for his practical techniques. Kenwa Mabuni sought him out and had many photos taken with him.
What I find most interesting is that many of Gichin Funakoshi's top students sought him also.Considering how much Motobu and Funakoshi loathed each other this is suprising.

I have also read the same stories about him knowing only Naihanchi and peeping through fences.The more I learn of him the more I doubt this. His system seems to have more depth than what one would expect from a simple brawler.IMO.

Jock Armstrong
12th June 2003, 02:00
You didn't get the gist of my post. He developed into a good MA man. As a young man he had limited tech but was smart and intuitive. Later he taught his knowledge, gained in real life. Experience is a great teacher! Of course others respected him- later in life. Don't fall into the trap of "telescoping" history into a few short years. Choki lived a long life. Some of Funakoshi's guys wanted some "real time" training. Funakoshi was a great karateks but he was a schoolteacher. Respectable men don't go indulging inwaterfront brawls. Many karateka have no real combat experience- things were no different then. That doesn't make funakoshi less of a karateka. They just had different approaches to the subject. Their polar views probably account for their antipathy.

12th June 2003, 02:34
Charles Goodin Sensei over in Hawaii has written quite a bit on
Motobu. His site is http://seinenkai.com. A direct link to his
work on Motobu is: http://seinenkai.com/salute-motobu.html
Scroll to the bottom of the page. There's a lot of material there.

12th June 2003, 04:07

Jussi Häkkinen
12th June 2003, 04:43
Choki Motobu most probably knew other kata than Naihanchi, but it's unclear how widely he taught these kata ahead. I know about Passai Guwa (small Passai), which also is known as "Motobu no Passai". That version was taught to Chozo Nakaima by Choki Motobu, and Nakaima taught it ahead to Zenpo Shimabukuro (of Shorin-Ryu Seibukan). Also Katsuya Miyahira knows and teaches this kata. In Seibukan-curriculum Passai Guwa is usually taught only for Seibukan-members.

Passai Guwa includes defences and disarmaments against an attacker armed with bo.

14th June 2003, 15:46
I was able to review the original Japanese version of the tape of Motobu Chosei (Choki's son).

In addition to his father's self defense techniques, some of which are applications of Passai kata) he demonstrated Nihanchi starting to the right (as in his father's books), and then a student and his class did the form, starting to the left, several times, and Nihanchi applications.

His son then did Nihanchi 2, and there was demonstration of some basic "H" type form and the opening of a very unique version of Seisan kata.

Unfortunately I can't understand the Japanese on the tape, but they give evidence of more than just Nihanchi training.

Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu