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Choki Motobu Motobu was born in in Akahira village, Shuri, the old capital of Okinawa, in 187 1.

He had considerable local fame in Okinawa as a fighter-strongman but it was o nly after he moved to Osaka in 1921 that he became known in Japanese martial art circles. There has been much false information printed about Choki Motobu, which only rec ently has been cleared up by his son Chosei Motobu. It has been often stated tha t Choki Motobu, as third son of a high-ranking family, did not receive the same level of education as his brothers, and did not learn his family s art of Udunde, as this was pasted on to the oldest son only. Choyo Motobu was the the eldest so n of the Motobu family. These assertions are absolutely false. Rumors about Chok i Motobu s education and training were spread on mainland Japan to discredit him! In his interview with Motobu Chosei, Charles Goodin wrote: The Motobu family desc ended from the sixth son of King Sho Shitsu who reigned from 1648 to 1668. There were four classes in Okinawa: the Royal family (the King and Princes), the Lord s, the Aristocrats and the commoners. Families with blood relations to the King were known as Keimochi. In such families, all son s names began with Cho. Among the Keimochi, the Motobu family was the highest ranking. An area of Okinawa was even named Motobu to honor the Motobu family. Choki Motobu was born into a high-ranking family, his father was Choshin Motobu, an aji or lo rd of the highest level.This is based on Motobu Choki s Koseki Tohon (family regis try), which Motobu Chosei brought to Hawaii. Motobu Choshin was an important offi cial, so much so that he was the first to meet with Commodore Perry during his h istoric visit to Okinawa. This is important information as it discredits the un-s ourced allegation that Motobu was little more than the illegitimate son of his f ather s so-called Tsuji-based courtesan. Another remarkable discovery was learning that Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), another of Okinawa s greatest karate masters, was Motobu s cousin. According to Motobu Chos ei, Kyan was born as a Motobu but became a Kyan family member to maintain the Kya n family name. In Okinawan noble families, this was not unusual. First sons had to maintain their own family s names to preserve the family s lands and entitlements . Later born sons would often be adopted or marry into other noble families in w hich there were no sons. Motobu Choki and Kyan Chotoku, who were about the same age, often practiced karate together. Other than his training, extra-curricular activities in Tsuji and failed horse-d rawn carriage taxi business, not much is known about the years between his young adulthood and middle age. Choki Motobu trained every day, lifting stone weights and hitting the makiwara ( striking post). He would strike the makiwara a thousand times a day. Motobu woul d sometimes sleep outside, (when he slept inside the dojo he would lie on the ha rd wooden floor, without a mattress), and if he woke up during the night, rather than turning over and going back to sleep he would get up and hit the makiwara. Motobu was also very agile and quick and he got the nickname "Motobu-saru" (Mon key Motobu), not because of his rough behavior, but because of his remarkable ag ility in climbing trees and moving from branch to branch as nimbly as a monkey. Choki Motobu was able to get instruction from several leading experts, because o f Motobu s upper-class birth. Motobu originally studied karate with the famous Ank oh Itosu, the leading master of Shuri-te. He later studied with Kosaku (Bushi) M atsumora and with Master Sakuma. However, Motobu s karate always seemed to bear hi s own instinctive stamp, arising no doubt from his independent nature and his fi ghting experiences. He always emphasized practicality, and in time many people c ame to regard him as the best fighter on Okinawa. In 1921, at 51 years of age, t he master left his home in Okinawa and ventured to the mainland of Japan. Settin

g up in Osaka, for the next twenty five years he took on a few odd jobs, gained a reputation as the strongest karate fighter in the entire country, reared a fam ily, developed his own style, published two books on the subject, established th e Daidokan dojo and became the most controversial karate teacher of his generati on. In Peter Urban's book Karate Dojo, Urban describes Choki Motobu as a giant of 7 foot 4 inches "with hands and feet like monstrous hams" who was almost impossibl e to hurt and who "preferred to grab his enemies and chop them to death." According to Richard Kim he stated that Motobu was a little under 6 feet tall an d solidly built, weighting around 200 lbs. What brought Motobu to the attention of the Japanese was his victory over a west ern boxer in a kind of all-comers challenge match. In the earlier part of this c entury such bouts were occasionally held in Japan pitting western boxers against judo or jujutsu men. (Karate was unknown in Japan around this time.) These were not "official" bouts for any sort of legitimate title, but something more like sideshow attractions. Boxing historians for example are fond of pointing out tha t, back in 1928 in Yokohama, top bantamweight Packy O'Gatty KO'd a Japanese juju tsu man named Shimakado in 14 seconds. That 14 seconds included the full count, by the way. E.J. Harrison also mentioned in passing a couple of boxing vs. judo shows in his book The Fighting Spirit of Japan, first published in 1913. Few of the fighters in these events were champions in their sports, but the shows did a rouse interest in a certain section of the populace. Soon after Motobu settled in Japan he went to watch a boxing versus judo show in Kyoto. A boxer taking part beat several judo men rather easily and then issued an open challenge. Moreover, the challenge was issued in a boastful and derogato ry way. Choki Motobu, who was sitting in the audience, stepped up onto the stage (or ring) and in the ensuing battle he knocked the boxer out -- probably with a punch, or series of punches, to the head. That is about as much as we can say a bout it since no contemporary reports of the fight exist. The Japanese magazine Kingu ("King") had published a story on Motobu and the box er back in 1925, according to Graham Noble who tracked this down and read the tr anslation, found that it was a piece of imaginative, popular journalism rather t han an accurate blow-by-blow report. However, the importance of this feature lay not in its accuracy as a fight report but in the publicity it gave to what had previously been an obscure event. Kingu was the major general interest magazine at the time with a circulation of over a million and this is how Motobu's exploi ts came to be widely reported. For the record, the Kingu story states that Motob u knocked the boxer unconscious with a rising palm heel strike. On the other han d, Seiyu Oyata, a modern day Okinawan karate expert, states that Motobu won the fight by kicking the boxer in the solar plexus and finishing him off with a stri ke to the neck. Shoshin Nagamine (Shorin-ryu) says that the knockout came in the third round from a strike to the temple. Motobu hit the boxer so hard that he w as knocked out and blood came from his ears. Nagamine was told by Motobu that he had won a hundred yen by betting on himself. An incident that never sat well with Motobu was the unfounded publicity Funakosh i Gichen, the founder of Shotokan, received for his (Motobu s) unprecedented victo ry over the foreign challenger at the Butokuden in 1922. The only Okinawan marti al artist that we know of to enter the ring and confront a larger foreigner in a contest, Motobu dispatched the fighter and helped bring national attention to t his little-known Okinawan tradition. However, when the story was finally feature d in the 1925 edition of King Magazine, despite naming Motobu (actually misprono uncing his name), it pictorially illustrated Funakoshi confronting and defeating the foreigner! According to Chosei Motobu his father was incensed by this and suspected that it had been done in an effort to give Funakoshi credit for something that he had no

t done. In fact, photographs of both Motobu Choki and Funakoshi appear in the ar ticle, making one wonder how the magazine s artists could have possibly confused t he two. The rivalry that existed between Motobu Choki and Funakoshi is well know n. Put simply, Motobu Choki did not believe that Funakoshi, a retired schoolteac her, was qualified to teach authentic Okinawan karate. In essence, he thought that Funakoshi s karate would not work in an actual fight. Motobu Choki s detractors responded by attempting to discredit him personally (for his speech, manners, appearance, etc.). Behind his back, he was wrongfully port rayed as an uneducated, uncivilized brute. His childhood nickname of Saru or Monkey was even used to mock and belittle him. But it does not appear that any of his detractors ever challenged him to a fight ! Remember that in Okinawa a challenger was expected to do just that to literall y put up or shut up. Fists were the medium of discussion rather than words. Motobu Choki was certainly not one to mince words. And no one could claim that his kar ate was anything less than effective. Choki Motobu also visited and taught karate in Hawaii. Two announcements of Moto bu s arrival in Hawaii appeared in local Hawaiian newspapers at that time. The Mar ch 13th 1932 issue of a local Japanese newspaper named, The Nippon Jiji, reads, Kar ate-jutsu authority, Motobu Choki will be arriving in Hawaii on board the Shunyo Maru. Motobu Choki who is teaching karate-jutsu to several hundred students in Tokyo is a well-known authority and presently has his own dojo in Hara Town of K oishikawa Ward of Tokyo. At this time, we understand that he is en route to Hawa ii on board the Shunyo Maru, scheduled to arrive on the 26th. Invited by Tamanah a Yoshimatsu of Hawaii, Motobu Choki is the third son of the wealthy Motobu fami ly from the town of Suri in Okinawa Prefecture. He s enthusiastically studied kara te-jutsu since his childhood and is recognized as an authority on Japan. The other announcement of his arrival in Hawaii appears in the March 13th 1932 i ssue of the The Hawaii Hochi. It reads, Karate authority Motobu Choki will be arriv ing on the 26th. Motobu Choki, who is teaching several hundred students in Tokyo , is well known as an authority on karate/martial arts. Presently he has a dojo in Hara Town of Koishikawa Third Ward in Tokyo but we recently heard that he ll be arriving in Hawaii on board the Shunyo Maru, on the 26th. He is the third son o f the wealthy Motobu family from the town of Shuri in Okinawa. He s been devoted t o studying karate-jutsu since childhood and he s a very famous martial artist. In fact, there s almost no one who s not familiar with his nickname, Saru. Another myth about Motobu is that he only knew one kata, the 'Naihanchin', this is incorrect. He also knew 'Passai' - evidently there is a rarely seen Motobu ve rsion of this kata - and 'Gojushiho', and although he may not have practiced the m he was aware of the major kata of each style - Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-t e. (He provided a list of the major kata in his book). It would be true to say, however, that he did become attached to 'Naihanchin' and for all the talk about him not being good at kata, the photographic record shows the technically profic iency of his performance. While it has been speculated that Motobu never learned the Pinan kata (sometimes known as Heian), it appears now that this information may be correct. Motobu le arned from Itosu before Itosu had fully developed the Pinans, a time when the ka tas were still practiced in their prototype form. We further know that Choki Motobu passed on a significant array of kata which ar e part of the curriculum as maintained by his son Chosei. They include Naihanchi Shodan and Nidan, Channan (the predecessor of the pinan kata which within the M otobu system are called Shiraguma no Kata), Passai, Wanshu, Wankan, Chinto, Kusa nku, Chinti and others. This demonstrates that Motobu was far more knowledgeable in terms of the kata than many have given him credit for. However, where Choki Motobu really differed from other leading karate masters su

ch as Funakoshi, Mabuni and Miyagi was in basing his style on the study of kumit e. Kata seemed to occupy a secondary position with him. His karate stressed alertne ss, sharpness, and practicality, and his experience in brawls and street fights showed through in his techniques, which were straightforward and effective. Some of his kumite-waza were shown in his book Ryukyu Kempo Karate-jutsu. Kumite ("T he Okinawan boxing art of karate-jutsu. Sparring techniques"), published in 1926 . Incidentally, Motobu could not speak or write mainland Japanese at all well an d it is thought that someone else must have written it under his direction, or p ossibly he dictated it. But at any rate the book's philosophy is his and he pose d for all the illustrations. Choki Motobu relied mainly on hand techniques, with the feet and knees being use d in a supporting -- but effective -- role, aiming his kicks at the stomach, gro in and knee joints. He often liked to grab and he also used basic techniques of covering or checking the opponent's hands and arms. His attacks were directed no t only to the face and midsection, but also to the groin (striking with the knee or foot, or grabbing the testicles) and knees (with stamping kicks). The forefi st, backfist, elbow, and one-knuckle fist seem to have been his favourite weapon s. According to Shosin Nagamine, Motobu attached some importance to the one-knuc kle fist (keikoken), and he would train this technique on the makiwara, striking with full force. Over the years he had found that at close quarters the orthodo x forefist punch might be smothered or unable to generate sufficient power and t hat in such situations keikoken could be very effective. "No other karateman in the history of Okinawan karate," wrote Nagamine, "has ever matched Motobu in the destructive power of keikoken." As for training equipment, Motobu stressed the use of makiwara, and also recomme nded the use of the chishi and sashi, the traditional tools for building the str ength of hands and arms. He also used to practice a crude form of weight lifting , lifting a heavy stone weighing say 130 lbs., to his shoulders daily. Choki Motobu returned to Okinawa several times, most notably for the 1936 meetin g of the masters sponsored by the Ryukyu Shinposha (Okinawa newspaper company). The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the promotion and future development of Karate. (It was at this meeting that the masters agreed to the change of the first character ("Kara") in the name karate to mean "empty," rather than "Chines e" (both characters are pronounced the same) which had been the most widely used meaning up to that time. This was an important change because "empty hand" was a much more acceptable meaning of the term karate in Japan than "Chinese hand. T his change was an important factor in the widespread adoption of karate on the J apanese mainland.) Other attendees included such other karate masters as Chojun Miyagi, Choshin Chi bana, Chomo Hanshiro, Shinpan Gusukuma, Juhatsu Kiyoda and Chotoku Kyan. Subsequently, he returned and continued teaching in Tokyo. Shortly before World War II, he returned to Okinawa and died in 1944 of a stomach disease at the age of 73. Choki Motobu and his wife Nabi (Morishima) had four children: Choko, Shige (a da ughter), Choso and Chosei (born in 1925). Choko and Choso died during W.W.II. Sh ige passed away in the mid 1980 s. Motobu was respected both as a person and a martial artist during his lifetime. After his death, however, negative rumors and stories circulated (perhaps propag ated by those who feared him in life). According to those who knew him best, Sho shin Nagamine and Yasuhiro Konishi, Choki Motobu grew spiritually and matured in his later years. His goal was to teach and train in Karate as it should be. While Motobu never became as famous as Funakoshi, around whom Shotokan karate an d its many offshoots developed, he did leave a rich karate heritage in the Osaka

, Kyoto and Gunma areas of Japan. While he never organized his own system, he di d play a positive role in the development of several karateka who went on to bec ome famous in their own right. This included Yasuhiro Konishi (who also studied with Funakoshi) who founded Shindo Jinen Ryu in 1934 and Kose Kuniba who founded Seishinkai Karatedo in 1934. Another student was Hironori Ohtsuka (also a well known student of Funakoshi) who went on to found Wado-ryu karate with a curricul um that stressed practice fighting, something that reflected Motobu's influence. The Motobu family art of Motobu-ryu continues today, as it was learned from his father, by Chosei Motobu. He is the president of the Nihon Denryu Heiho Motobu K empo and the name of his individual dojo is the "Daidokan." Between the publication of his second book and his return to Okinawa in 1936, th ere is little information, but there is one fascinating reference. It is recorde d that he traveled to Hawaii in March of 1932 and encountered visa problems.Refu sed entry, for about a month he was detained at Honolulu immigration station bef ore being returned to Japan. While in Hawaii Motobu began to instruct Thomas Shigeru Miyashiro, a resident wh o tried to help Motobu with his visa problems. This started a continuing relatio nship with Motobu, who is reported to have asked both Mizuho Mutsu and Kamesuke Higashionna to continue to help train Miyashiro when they traveled to the island the next year. This relationship was later continued by Choki's son. Chosei (al ong with Takeji Inaba) visited Hawaii Karate Seinenkai on April 25, 2001. Shoshin Nagamine admited that in his training he taught his students the skills of Kumite as taught to him by Choki Motobu. Motobu taught that distancing was th e most important factor to delivering a punch, Seiken Zuki, with fatal force. He explained that too far away, and not enough power would be in the technique at contact, but to be too close will keep the technique from developing full power. Thus it was important to master distancing. And for those situations where one was too close it was important to be able to strike properly with Uraken and Ipp on Ken Zuki. In the seven Yakashuto Kumite of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu are the le ssons and skills as taught by Choki Motobu. References: Motobu Choki Karate My Art compiled and translated by Patrick and Yuriko McCarthy Master Choki Motobu, 'A Real Fighter' Fighting Arts International; Graham Noble