The third son of Motobu Aji Choshin and his wife Maushi, Choki sensei was called Masanraa as a child: "ma" being a polite prefix and "sanraa" meaning "third son. Being 13 years younger than Choyu sensei, Choki sensei always lost to him in kumite. Because of this, he secretly sought instruction from other legendary masters such as Matsumura Sokon sensei of Shuri and Sakuma sensei while still training under Itosu sensei. Matsumura sensei was such a great martial artist that Choki sensei said of him, "among recent karate masters, there was no one as exquisite or strong. From the age of 19, Choki sensei also studied under the Tomari-te master Matsumora Kosaku sensei.
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Through The Myth Part two discusses the kata Motobu knew and practiced, his move to Japan, rivalry with Funakoshi, accomplishments and his continuing legacy. It was quite a common practice in the old days to begin a student training with Naihanchi kata and only when he mastered it to a degree considered sufficient was a new form taught. This seems to be corroborated through the words of Konishi Yasuhiro as told by Yamazaki Kiyoshi in an article on Konishi 4 : "Konishi Sensei considered Motobu to be a martial genius and made every effort to train with him.
As a teacher he knew many Kata, but would only teach them once the student had mastered Naifanchin. Thus many of the modern stories which recount Motobu as knowing or having shown only the kata Naihanchi are told by those having trained for less than a year with him! Motobu is quoted by Nakasone Genwa as describing a visit to Itosu Sensei Itosu was perhaps the most famous karate teacher of his time as follows: "I visited him one day near the school, where we sat talking about the martial arts and current affairs.
While I was there two to three students dropped by and sat talking with us. Motobu learned from Itosu before Itosu had fully developed the Pinans, a time when the katas were still practiced in their prototype form. We further know that Choki Motobu passed on a significant array of kata which are part of the curriculum as maintained by his son Chosei. This demonstrates that Motobu was far more knowledgeable in terms of the kata than many have given him credit for.
Move To Japan In Iwai ; other sources say , perhaps in an effort to find greener pastures, Motobu moved with his family to the city of Osaka on mainland Japan. Not long afterwards he returned briefly to Okinawa for three months which he spent training with his brother Choyu.
This was when a nineteen year old student of Choyu by the name of Seikichi Uehara first met Choki. Uehara recalled having Choki for a training partner: "Every time I punched Choki hit my arm before I could touch him. He hit it so hard he almost broke my arm" Uehara Soon after Choki returned to Osaka, he obtained a job as a security guard.
This was no small feat for someone who reputedly never learned to speak Japanese in any fluent fashion. We must remember, however, that Motobu was nobility by birth and perhaps as an act of personal defiance which was not unheard of in those days, something also done by the karate legend Hohan Soken , he refused to humble himself and learn what was to him a foreign tongue.
In November of Iwai an event would took place which brought Choki to the attention of many on mainland Japan. On his day off from work at the factory, Choki and his landlord saw a sign advertising a challenge match with boxers in Kyoto and decided to go.
Having viewed several matches where the boxer reputed to be a European boxing champion defeated several judo people, Motobu accepted the challenge himself. He entered and felled the much larger boxer. Motobu would later recount to students: "When I fought the foreign boxer in Kyoto, he was taller than me so I jumped up and punched him in the face. This is effective against people who are taller than you.
Another source Choso Nakama quoted in the book, "Okinawa Karate" by Mark Bishop recounted that Motobu had at first just dodged the boxer. But in the second round the boxer came on strong. Motobu hit him after jumping up with a typical "Ti" old term for karate technique, a knuckle strike behind the ear. At fifty-two years of age and after putting his honor and reputation on the line, Choki finally began to attract the attention he truly deserved.
Choki formed the Society for the Promotion of Toudijutsu an old term for karate. It certainly must have been a shock to Motobu, however, when in the following September an article appeared in Kingu magazine describing his bout with the boxer. The picture accompanying the article, however, was not of him. Instead it was a drawing of none other than Gichen Funakoshi, shown as felling the boxer. It was rumored by those close to Motobu that he was angry about this misrepresentation but felt quite helpless against the resources of company the size of Kodansha which owned Kingu.
Perhaps he felt Funakoshi himself or one of his collage student Karateka where many journalists began was behind the error. Although many stories exist about a confrontation between the two 6 , I am unable to find any confirmed accounts giving specifics of the battle.
David Chambers, however, in a Tsunami video tape, "Wado Ryu the way of peace and harmony," claims that: "Yasuhiro Koneshi reported that a newspaper carried the story of a fight that took place between the two in Several judoka and wrestlers sought him out to learn fighting skills.
The defection further added to the deterioration of relations between the two teachers. Interest in the testing of karate fighting skills was perhaps understandable since in Japan at that time, judo a synthesis of old jujutsu self-defense systems and kendo old warrior sword arts modified into a sporting form had been adopted into the Japanese education curriculum and were popular.
Both offered competition formats. The attraction of practice fighting thus naturally bled over to many young karateka who sought to test their skills or develop effective technique in their own art. The true feelings between Motobu and Funakoshi may never truly be known. But, it can be assumed that Funakoshi a well educated school teacher who spoke Japanese and was well versed in Japanese social customs may have regarded Motobu to be densely illiterate.
He was also probably irritated by the fact that Motobu was higher placed in the old Okinawan class system. Motobu in turn probably regarded Funakoshi as a mere confidence man, someone who had learned only the most superficial aspects of karate and kata and was not a strong fighter.
It has been put forth by Chozo Nakama a disciple of Chosin Chibana that these works were dictated and translated into proper Japanese for publishing. It came just four years after Funakoshi produced the first published book on karate. He considered it detrimental to karate practiced as a martial way.
Its focus was on fighting -- effective close-in skills as illustrated in this photo. Featured were a series of practical responses to variety of attacks.
Utilized were a variety of punches, vital point and unbalancing techniques accompanied by grabs, blocks, knees and strikes using both arms. Kicks, it should be noted, were minimal. In Motobu published a second book, "Watashi no Karatejutsu" "My karatejutsu" which served as a natural complement to his first. This book focused on illustrating his favorite kata, Naihanchi, along with many applications, some of which had been adopted and illustrated in his first book.
Notice that this photograph from his book illustrating a move from the kata Naihanchi Tekki in some Japanese systems illustrates the same stance and technique as used in a fighting technique above photo illustrated in his first book. Coming Home Choki Motobu returned to Okinawa several times, most notably for the meeting 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 McCarthy After his death, however, negative rumors and stories circulated perhaps propagated by those who feared him in life.
He is often described by those who actually knew him, however, as a quiet man who presented the very picture of dignity. Choki Motobu passed from this life on August Concepts of Toudi karate The following are but a few of the noted concepts Choki Motobu expressed to his students and are recorded by Hashihiko Nakata as overseen by Kenji Marukawa a direct student of Choki Motobu from the essay "Motobu Choki Sensei Goroku" Collection of sayings by Choki Motobu as partially translated by Joe Swift.
Kamae is in the heart, not a physical manifestation. One must develop the ability to deflect attack even from behind. In a real confrontation, more than anything else strike to the face first, as this is most effective.
When punching to the face one must thrust as if punching through the head. Kicks are not all that effective in a real confrontation. When blocking kicks, one must block as if trying to break the opponents shin. One must try and block the attack at its source Block not the attacking hand but deeper on the arm. That is because the blocks of Karate make it impossible to launch a second attack.
While he never organized his own system, he did play a positive role in the development of several karateka who went on to become famous in their own right. It is recorded that he traveled to Hawaii in March of and encountered visa problems. Refused entry, for about a month he was detained at Honolulu immigration station before being returned to Japan. While in Hawaii Motobu began to instruct Thomas Shigeru Miyashiro, a resident who tried to help Motobu with his visa problems.
This started a continuing relationship 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.
It is my sincere hope that in the future additional facts will come to light about this great man and that he will be given credit not only as a talented Karateka but as the Martial Genius I believe he truly was. It will only be through the objective observation of the facts and accounts of those who knew Choki Motobu that we will be able to see "Through the Myth to the Man.
Thanks also to Christopher Caile whose editing, addition of pertinent historical facts and historical photo collection added much to this article series. Footnotes Footnotes found in part one of this two part series. Upon guidance of another Okinawan I went to the place where he was teaching youngsters, where he was running his mouth, bragging.
Upon seeing this, I grabbed his hand, took up the position of Kake kumite and said "What will you do? He got up, his face red and said "Once more" so we took up the position of Kake Kumite again, and again I threw him with Kote Gaeshi.
He did not relent and asked for another bout, so he was thrown again for a third time. This was an important change because "empty hand" was a much more acceptable meaning of the term karate in Japan than "Chinese hand. This change was an important factor in the widespread adoption of karate on the Japanese mainland. Also an article featured by FightingArts.
Motobu Choki sensei
Through The Myth Part two discusses the kata Motobu knew and practiced, his move to Japan, rivalry with Funakoshi, accomplishments and his continuing legacy. It was quite a common practice in the old days to begin a student training with Naihanchi kata and only when he mastered it to a degree considered sufficient was a new form taught. This seems to be corroborated through the words of Konishi Yasuhiro as told by Yamazaki Kiyoshi in an article on Konishi 4 : "Konishi Sensei considered Motobu to be a martial genius and made every effort to train with him. As a teacher he knew many Kata, but would only teach them once the student had mastered Naifanchin.
Things to Do in Motobu-cho, Japan - Motobu-cho Attractions
Popular myth holds that Motobu only knew one kata , Naifanchi Naihanchi. Other sources describe Sanchin , Kusanku, and Ueseishi A. Gojushiho, or 54 steps as having been part of his repertoire. He apparently developed his own kata, Shiro Kuma White Bear. Motobu lived and taught karate in Japan until , when he returned to Okinawa, dying shortly thereafter. A friend convinced Motobu to enter a " boxing vs judo " match which was taking place. These matches were popular at the time, and often pitted a visiting foreign boxer against a jujutsu or judo man.
Through The Myth He was also the least understood and probably the most maligned. Motobu was the third son in a great Okinawan family that had enjoyed privilege and landed nobility Motobu peninsula , but which was largely ended by Japanese annexation of the island, modernization and social reorganization. A strong ox of a man with a will and ego to match, Motobu preferred the tough and tumble, practical karate over the pure practice of kata.