I've spent lots of pleasant time this week reading and re-reading the
new book by Patrick McCarthy on Motobu. Thought I'd share my
Bushi No Te Isshinryu
Patrick and Yuriko McCarthy have prepared an excellent book
in "Motobu Choki – Karate, My Art" (published by the
International Ryukyu Karate-jutsu Research Society).
It contains their translation of Motobu's "Watashi no
Karate-jutsu" or "My Art of Karate", originally published in 1932,
and an impressive amount of other's writings on Motobu and his impact
on the development of Karate in the 20th Century.
Being able to read Motobu's own thoughts on his art and studies
from the 1930's is impressive enough, but this book gives you
multiple impressions of Motobu from friends, students and
Motobu Choki had an enormous impact on the development of Karate in
Japan. It seems to me all of his contemporaries took a giant step
forward in their desire to share their art in Japan when he used his
training to defeat a foreign boxer. His victory established
Karate's existence as a credible martial art in one fell swoop.
The work compiled and translated by the McCarthy's (with some
additional material by Joe Swift and Graham Noble) presents the
currents swirling around Motobu in Japan. From the words of his
students you get the feel what Motobu Sensei was as an instructor.
You see how the rivalry began between Motobu Choki and Funakoshi
Ginchin began. A most fascinating incident in its own right,
foreshadowing contemporary disputes between what a martial art should
consist of. It is works like Mr. McCarthy's which show that
these events have been with us as martial artists from the earliest
days recorded, and are likely to remain far into the future.
But not content to just present material on Motobu, this work
incorporates material from Kyan Chotoku, giving us another view from
Okinawa to greatly enhance our vision.
I can say every time I go through this work I find another gem to
Consider from Miyahira Katsuya's `Recollections of
Motobu', on page 35.
"One reason why he had difficulty in establishing a
`ryuha' was because he was constantly changing (please read as
improving) training methods. His idea of karate being "living
experience" was, in the midst of that inflexible social structure,
very un-Japanese-like. In other words, it didn't fit into the
Japanese budo paradigm, and, therefore, was never widely embraced by
I believe this is the first explanation I've seen as to why
Okinawa's karate was dynamic and not static. This may have been a
wider Okinawan tradition as opposed to how karate ryuha became to be
seen, where kata and techniques were to develop into exact
I strongly believe in time this work will be seen as a very valuable
glimpse into the earliest recorded Karate traditions. The
McCarthy's are to be recommended for their efforts.