Was Funakoshi Gichin a "sell out"?

Paul Calugaru

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Funakoshi, "The father of modern karate", was a traditional Okinawan master who studied with Itosu Anko in the "old ways" of toude/todi. His time predates the wearing of a gi and even the name "karate", itself. It was his efforts in popularizing this art that are responsible for all of us practicing and treasuring it today, 100 years later. But at what cost? It was Funakoshi who transformed the art by introducing it to the public schools in Okinawa, and later, Japan. To do this, as most of us know, he simplified the kata, removed many of the truly dangerous techniques, and even changed the names from the native Okinawan language (Hogan or Uchinaaguchi) to Japanese. Karate became something different and was sent on a new trajectory.

There was no cost. Funakoshi (a disciple of two of the top 10 karate-ka in Okinawa at that time i.e , Itosu & Azato, was a skilled teacher. Funakoshi's karate was above par (he wasn't the best but... his karate was of high caliber) Let me highlight he was chosen to demonstrate Karate to the crown prince/future Emperor Hirohito. Not Motobu Choki, not his older brother Choyu etc..etc.. Some have floated Funakoshi was chosen to demonstrate karate to the Prince, because he was educated and cultured. Chances are he would not have been permitted even to talk to the Prince... (at the time, one wasn't allowed to look at the Emperor i.e. the Prince's father, who was viewed at the turn of the century as a religious figure/demi god/king) Funakoshi was not going to be permitted to carry on a two way conversation. (high % the theory his education was the "why" IMO is laughable when you know your Japanese history)

Funakoshi also produced excellent Karate-ka. e.g. Gigi Funikoshi was probably the most talented Karate-ka of his age. Together with Motokuni, they produced the quality of: Nakayama, Nishiyama, Kase, who produced the likes of Ueki, Okazaki, Ohshima, Asai, Enoeda, Kanazawa, Osaka, Ozawa, Tanaka, Kagawa.

I could end post right here... these gent's karate speak for themselves

These karate-ka traveled the world subjecting themselves to peer review, competing etc...

These master have produced western karate-ka like Berteli and Hotton.. master t karate-ka themselves


Itosu Anko is the founder of the Pinan kata and it was him that introduced the kata to public schools, Funakoshi-O'Sensei facilitated only, being a teacher. Nor did Funakoshi O'Sensei simplify the Pinan kata. Later on in the late 40's early 1950s Gigo, along with Nakayama and Nishiyama and a few others would "Shotokan" or "Japanese" some of the kata.. This had as much to do with the influence of Konishi Yasuhiro 1893-1983 than anything.... Konishi Yasuhiro , a traditional Taijutsu/Jujitsu master, had a lot of influence on Gichen and Gigo. Some example: Instead of neko-ashi dachi... kokutsu dachi was employed. Kenjustu and Kendo (which at that time had grappling) was also an influence, in Ashi Sabaki as well as kumite tournamnet rules. Nor did Funakoshi remove dangerous techniques. Understand this if anything .... Funakoshi's skill met Jigoro Kano satisfaction. Both men had great respect for each other. Judo was forged by extreme competition with many jujitsu ryu. It's a safe bet, no it's a NO brainer that Jigoro Kano could have perceived if Funakoshi was lacking in skill. No one ever talks about the ban of martial arts after the War, the US occupation, the shutdown of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, then the reestablishment of sports late 40's early 50's. These are the man factors the sent "dangerous techniques" behind closed doors... not some "lack of skill or selling out" or "watering it down"... changing the terminology and nomenclature to fit the Japanese culture is hardly selling out.

There has been in the last 10 yrs or so.. In print media and on the internet.. some weird Okinawan karate history revision by some, who have attempted to down play Funakoshi's O'sensei (the father of modern karate) his contributions, or his legacy, by calling into question his skill or knowledge of karate. The names of the extremely highly skilled Karate-ka I listed above, revered Funakoshi O'sensei, there skill, and what they thought of Funakoshi should lead all but a fool to comprehend.... that the proof is in the pudding.
 
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isshinryuronin

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No one ever talks about the ban of martial arts after the War, the US occupation, the shutdown of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, then the reestablishment of sports late 40's early 50's. These are the man factors the sent "dangerous techniques" behind closed doors... not some "lack of skill
by some, who have attempted to down play Funakoshi's O'sensei (the father of modern karate) his contributions, or his legacy, by calling into question his skill or knowledge of karate.

Welcome to the forum, Paul. That was quite a debut posting. Your passionate defense of Funakoshi O-Sensei is admirable, but, from my point of view, he is not in need of such a champion. I am not familiar with any widespread doubts or challenges on his skill or knowledge, so I'm not sure why you spent so much of your post on this.

He was an exceptional karate-ka and his efforts, (along with Master Itosu Anko,) was perhaps responsible for us, here and now, even being exposed to, as he once described karate, "...the heavenly technique of the Southern Seas..."

Considering Funakoshi was a public school teacher and was the spearhead into the system, especially in Japan, and had a curriculum designed for large groups of kids, things were necessarily simplified and made safer to practice. Yes, it is said that Itosu either developed or adapted the Pinans, but as you said, Funakoshi facilitated them getting into the school system.

By the 1930's, karate was entrenched into the universities and karate clubs sprang up on many campuses. This was the beginning of sport karate. Several old masters lamented this evolution of karate as more of the "original" Okinawan karate was peeled off, and a new layer imposed, changing the art in Japan, and eventually the rest of the world. Such was the trajectory for which Funakoshi was a catalyst.

Let me highlight he was chosen to demonstrate Karate to the crown prince/future Emperor Hirohito.

All styles have their lore and stories, and one may suppose some get exaggerated in the telling. That demo in 1921, to my understanding, was jointly put on by several masters as the prince made a pass thru Okinawa. As it was considered a "back water" territory, I doubt the crown prince would even know his name, if that is your inference. But Funakoshi was recognized as being one of the top handful of guys by his peers at the time.

Evolution happens unplanned. Bushi Matsumura would never have guessed his arts would be taught to thousands of common kids, and Funakoshi would be shocked by the celebrity of Chuck Norris and the universal embracing of the art he was so instrumental is popularizing. I think we can all agree, karate now is a future he could not have imagined.
 
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Paul Calugaru

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You will have to excuse my passion.

“Sellout” “Watered down”

Terms like these Imo...don’t fit a man who in his 30s, quit his job as a teacher, shutdown his prosperous dojo in Okinawa and left his family, moving 300+ miles away to live and teach in a 1 room dormitory, sweeping floors during the day to make money so he could bring Karate to Japan.

Hard not to get passionate about a person who never wavered, who’s life was all about karate. Wasn’t a drunk, a bully, never lied... who’s students became extremely great Karate-ka and who hero worship him. (This is a guy who went decades not seeing his wife, who’s students built him a dojo!)

I get passionate when people in print media or on the internet take Funakoshi’s life out of context.

I apologize for my passion..
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I apologize for my passion..
That's silly. Unless it involves actively harming others, being passionate about something isn't something to apologize for. And most of us are passionate about some aspect of martial arts..otherwise we wouldn't spend our time on here talking about it.

BTW-welcome to the forum!
 

tigercrane

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You will have to excuse my passion.

“Sellout” “Watered down”

Terms like these Imo...don’t fit a man who in his 30s, quit his job as a teacher, shutdown his prosperous dojo in Okinawa and left his family, moving 300+ miles away to live and teach in a 1 room dormitory, sweeping floors during the day to make money so he could bring Karate to Japan.

Hard not to get passionate about a person who never wavered, who’s life was all about karate. Wasn’t a drunk, a bully, never lied... who’s students became extremely great Karate-ka and who hero worship him. (This is a guy who went decades not seeing his wife, who’s students built him a dojo!)

I get passionate when people in print media or on the internet take Funakoshi’s life out of context.

I apologize for my passion..

Your post appears to really overglorify a man and his deeds in the karate realm. However, you need to look no further than his real fight against Motobu Choki in 1930, and his subsequent defeat in order to understand what Funakoshi's karate might have been like in practical terms. In 1925 King Magazine had showcased a fight between Motobu Choki and an Estonian boxer names Jan/John Kantel (George). Motobu Choki was the winner of that fight, however King Magazine showed Funkashi's picture with the name of Motobu Choki right under it. This is not clear whether magazine did it intentionally or not. I could neither find any information pointing to the fact that Funakoshi had publicly rejecting him being the winner. Remarkably, Motobu Choki thought of Funakoshi as being too soft, and I'd tend to believe to what a real fighter Motobu Choki would have to say on this matter.
 
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isshinryuronin

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Your post appears to really overglorify a man and his deeds in the karate realm. However, you need to look no further than his real fight against Motobu Choki in 1930, and his subsequent defeat in order to understand what Funakoshi's karate might have been like in practical terms. In 1925 King Magazine had showcased a fight between Motobu Choki and an Estonian boxer names Jan/John Kantel (George). Motobu Choki was the winner of that fight, however King Magazine showed Funkashi's picture with the name of Motobu Choki right under it. This is not clear whether magazine did it intentionally or not. I could neither find any information pointing to the fact that Funakoshi had publicly rejecting him being the winner. Remarkably, Motobu Choki thought of Funakoshi as being too soft, and I'd tend to believe to what a real fighter Motobu Choki would have to say on this matter.

I agree with your first sentence, tigercrane, but I do not believe you have enough info regarding Funakoshi's response to the article you refer to, although Motobu's fight with the boxer is not disputed. "Karate" had barely been introduced as a word in 1925, and outside Okinawa, it was still in its Infancy. Thus, it was probably not a huge topic in print media. I can't find any reference to "King" magazine. Do you mean Ring?

Any follow up comments by Funakoshi (assuming you are correct about the photo and mistaken ID) would most likely have been in local papers and printed in Japanese, or maybe Hogan dialect. Hard to research. Adding in the fact of massive bombing and fires suffered there in WWII, plus, we're talking 96 years ago, how did you expect to find such a minor reference under such circumstances??? Just how did you research such a thing? So, I think using the fact that you can't find it as a basis for criticism is not sound.

Motobu was a "real fighter," a terror even, and he probably thought everyone else was "too soft." The videos I've seen of Funakoshi and his top students were impressive and gave me no concern regarding his skills. Having been trained by the esteemed Itosu Anko and the legendary "Bushi" Matsumura, Funakoshi was accepted by his peers as accomplished.
 

Syeed Ali

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Did Funakoshi sell out the Okinawan legacy in order to popularize it and make it more acceptable to Japanese sensibilities?

Well.. yes. Obviously.

I feel that every martial art which finds a reasonably wide audience can, in hindsight, be thought to have been watered down to what is now the lowest common denominator. Perhaps that denominator is practitioner ability or audience marketability.

I like to think of things like evolutionary biology guesswork. It looks at a feature, then supposes that it the feature is either a legacy leftover or that it has served or does serve some value for fitness/survival. (Or that it is a new feature which has not had any trial for value)

In a martial art, why does feature x exist or why was it removed? Maybe it was popular for a generation of students. Maybe it was the insistence of an influential instructor. Maybe there was a martial need.



I have myself, in person, been told by an instructor of the intentional withholding of a thing. A reason was given -- there is always some reason -- but the result is the same: Maybe some other learn-ed master will teach it, or maybe it will end with that instructor and exist (if at all) in rumor, story or writing (or, these days, video).

When I was told the story, I was too shy to have an opinion (rightly; I was a beginner), but time has passed. I have developed a fierce archivist's mind, which is truly offended at knowledge being forced, let alone allowed, to go extinct. I recently learned of one man who was long ago given copies of ancient VHS tapes with rare scenes, and he just sits on them. VHS is not a good format; those tapes are rotting by the minute. I am so very upset.

This mindset is something I care so strongly about that I'm actually writing a work of fiction from this archivistic perspective.

I have thought of that story many times over the years. I wondered why I would have been told without even knowing about it in the first place. At one point I probably thought it was the teller helping themselves make the decision. Now maybe it was seen that I could have been stumbling in its direction.. and that I ought to one day consider if I myself ought to show or talk about it myself.

It is a very unsettling feeling to have this antagonism to my fundamental values, because I despise yet actually agree with the silence.
 

Ivan

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Funakoshi, "The father of modern karate", was a traditional Okinawan master who studied with Itosu Anko in the "old ways" of toude/todi. His time predates the wearing of a gi and even the name "karate", itself. It was his efforts in popularizing this art that are responsible for all of us practicing and treasuring it today, 100 years later. But at what cost?

It was Funakoshi who transformed the art by introducing it to the public schools in Okinawa, and later, Japan. To do this, as most of us know, he simplified the kata, removed many of the truly dangerous techniques, and even changed the names from the native Okinawan language (Hogan or Uchinaaguchi) to Japanese. Karate became something different and was sent on a new trajectory.

It was this "watering down" of the art for the masses that eventually allowed it to reach millions. But, at the same time, what was passed on was a shadow of the original. It is only since this new millennium, what was lost is gradually being rediscovered thanks to a realization that there is more to karate than we thought.

Did Funakoshi sell out the Okinawan legacy in order to popularize it and make it more acceptable to Japanese sensibilities?
The foundation of Japanese Karate was done by the Japanese government to create its own version of Western Boxing. Boxing was surging in popularity at the time due to the supermatch between Jack Dempsey and a Frenchman whose name I have forgotten. This match was so anticipated, that it was aired in cinemas across the whole world, for months or perhaps even years.

Funakoshi purposely removed any techniques that involved locks and grappling and created a version of Karate that only works at punching and kicking range. Was what he did selling out his culture? I honestly don't know how to answer that - but another master of Okinawan Karate certainly thought it was. He was enraged at Funakoshi's teachings and kicked his *** multiple times. This was Motobu Choki.

However, some could argue Motobu Choki was more jealous of Funakoshi's success, rather than angry at his Karate. Choki was an amazing fighter, but he had little success when attempting to spread his Karate in Japan.
 
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isshinryuronin

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A couple of suggestions for you as you work toward your writing/blogging career. First, beware of making sweeping broad statements. Second, when you do, especially when they may be accusatory or controversial, you need to document those statements.

Question them yourself to see if it is supposition, deduction, guesswork, gossip, or factual. If you see that it is not an obvious fact that most here should know, provide sources to back up your claims or thoughts. This will be a great step towards you being, and being perceived as, a serious commentator (and perhaps someday an authority!) Here are a few examples and questions you can ask of yourself:

The foundation of Japanese Karate was done by the Japanese government to create its own version of Western Boxing.

Doesn't seem to me this was the driving reason. Karate was introduced to Japan via the public schools for PE so those foundational students were mostly 7-16 years old. Why would they want a weird version of boxing instead of just training Western Boxing and allowing them to compete (and be accepted) on the world stage? Weren't there other reasons for karate in Japan?

Funakoshi purposely removed any techniques that involved locks and grappling and created a version of Karate that only works at punching and kicking range.

Not fair to say "any." Many, yes. And there were still techniques that worked at close range: elbows, knees, sweeps...

He was enraged at Funakoshi's teachings and kicked his *** multiple times. This was Motobu Choki.

Enraged? Why? Is this something you read from a documented source, or just what others may have posted on their own? I've read a bit in the field and don't remember any of these incidents. May have happened. Motobu kicked everyone's a**.

However, some could argue Motobu Choki was more jealous of Funakoshi's success, rather than angry at his Karate. Choki was an amazing fighter, but he had little success when attempting to spread his Karate in Japan.

Based on what factors could one argue he was jealous of Funakoshi? Motobu, unlike many karate masters, was not highly educated, probably not trained in business, and was concerned with fighting more than marketing. He did not coddle his students - his teaching was hard core (brutal). As a parent, I would never put my kid in his class (But I'd have loved to go out drinking with him!). These are, I think, the main reasons his teaching did not blossom into many students.

I believe you are currently a college student, right? Developing good scholarship / research habits will serve you well in the future. Keep on writing, videoing, blogging, or whatever you do. Just as in MA, it takes time to refine your technique.
 

Ivan

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A couple of suggestions for you as you work toward your writing/blogging career. First, beware of making sweeping broad statements. Second, when you do, especially when they may be accusatory or controversial, you need to document those statements.

Question them yourself to see if it is supposition, deduction, guesswork, gossip, or factual. If you see that it is not an obvious fact that most here should know, provide sources to back up your claims or thoughts. This will be a great step towards you being, and being perceived as, a serious commentator (and perhaps someday an authority!) Here are a few examples and questions you can ask of yourself:



Doesn't seem to me this was the driving reason. Karate was introduced to Japan via the public schools for PE so those foundational students were mostly 7-16 years old. Why would they want a weird version of boxing instead of just training Western Boxing and allowing them to compete (and be accepted) on the world stage? Weren't there other reasons for karate in Japan?


Not fair to say "any." Many, yes. And there were still techniques that worked at close range: elbows, knees, sweeps...



Enraged? Why? Is this something you read from a documented source, or just what others may have posted on their own? I've read a bit in the field and don't remember any of these incidents. May have happened. Motobu kicked everyone's a**.



Based on what factors could one argue he was jealous of Funakoshi? Motobu, unlike many karate masters, was not highly educated, probably not trained in business, and was concerned with fighting more than marketing. He did not coddle his students - his teaching was hard core (brutal). As a parent, I would never put my kid in his class (But I'd have loved to go out drinking with him!). These are, I think, the main reasons his teaching did not blossom into many students.

I believe you are currently a college student, right? Developing good scholarship / research habits will serve you well in the future. Keep on writing, videoing, blogging, or whatever you do. Just as in MA, it takes time to refine your technique.


For starters, I am grateful for your tips they were very helpful.

Most of my information on Karate comes from this channel: (40) Jesse Enkamp - YouTube
I would also argue it's not so impalpable for Japan to decide to make their own version of Boxing instead of teaching Western Boxing, as they were known throughout history to be prideful of their culture. How could such a prideful country allow Western Boxing (a foreign art) to be the brunt of the youth's physical education curriculum?

My information on Motobu also comes from the channel above. He challenged Funakoshi to a Kumite, and threw him to the floor with the exact same technique three times. Motobu was specifically enraged as he did not see Funakoshi's karate as "real karate". He thought he was a sellout.

Moreover, the channel above also states that the reason Motobu's classes did not succeed, was because the curriculum was easily picked up and learnt by his students, which meant he could not keep a student for more than a couple of months before they became great fighters.

And personally, if I was in Motobu's shoes, I would have been quite jealous. He had been practicing his whole life to fight and yet "failed" to succeed in teaching, and suddenly, someone takes the art he had spent years perfecting and throws out half of its techniques whilst becoming one of the most famous figures in the country.
 

Syeed Ali

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Not to stray too off topic, but I was recently learning about Bartitsu, the first western MMA, for it's cane defense. I had one storyteller say that it failed because it was made expensive, marketed toward that crowd then found itself competing with a budding fascination in east Asian martial arts. That and probably infighting (style, at least, and likely business or publicity as well).

It had some judo / jujutsu forms, but I suppose it didn't capitalize on that trend. After it's demise, one participant helped continue the public's awareness of jujutsu.

Bartitsu survived extinction via interest in the fictional "baritsu" of Sherlock Holmes.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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For starters, I am grateful for your tips they were very helpful.

Most of my information on Karate comes from this channel: (40) Jesse Enkamp - YouTube
I would also argue it's not so impalpable for Japan to decide to make their own version of Boxing instead of teaching Western Boxing, as they were known throughout history to be prideful of their culture. How could such a prideful country allow Western Boxing (a foreign art) to be the brunt of the youth's physical education curriculum?

My information on Motobu also comes from the channel above. He challenged Funakoshi to a Kumite, and threw him to the floor with the exact same technique three times. Motobu was specifically enraged as he did not see Funakoshi's karate as "real karate". He thought he was a sellout.

Moreover, the channel above also states that the reason Motobu's classes did not succeed, was because the curriculum was easily picked up and learnt by his students, which meant he could not keep a student for more than a couple of months before they became great fighters.

And personally, if I was in Motobu's shoes, I would have been quite jealous. He had been practicing his whole life to fight and yet "failed" to succeed in teaching, and suddenly, someone takes the art he had spent years perfecting and throws out half of its techniques whilst becoming one of the most famous figures in the country.
So I don't know enough about karate to give any statements on the validity of jesse enkamp, besides that he's supposedly good. But it sounds like all your information is from him. Having only one source, no matter how reputable, is a very bad idea. Especially for something as modern as karate where there is a lot to draw from.
 
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isshinryuronin

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For starters, I am grateful for your tips they were very helpful.

Most of my information on Karate comes from this channel: (40) Jesse Enkamp - YouTube
I would also argue it's not so impalpable for Japan to decide to make their own version of Boxing instead of teaching Western Boxing, as they were known throughout history to be prideful of their culture. How could such a prideful country allow Western Boxing (a foreign art) to be the brunt of the youth's physical education curriculum?

My information on Motobu also comes from the channel above. He challenged Funakoshi to a Kumite, and threw him to the floor with the exact same technique three times. Motobu was specifically enraged as he did not see Funakoshi's karate as "real karate". He thought he was a sellout.

Moreover, the channel above also states that the reason Motobu's classes did not succeed, was because the curriculum was easily picked up and learnt by his students, which meant he could not keep a student for more than a couple of months before they became great fighters.

And personally, if I was in Motobu's shoes, I would have been quite jealous. He had been practicing his whole life to fight and yet "failed" to succeed in teaching, and suddenly, someone takes the art he had spent years perfecting and throws out half of its technues whilst becoming one of the most famous figures in the country.

Now your post has more substance, having provided some quoted sources and details. I reviewed your main source video blog and consider Jesse a respected student of karate, always providing interesting and useful information. This piece was one I hadn't seen, but did remind me I had read years ago (and forgotten) of his encounter with Funakoshi. It supported some of your comments and some of mine, though our interpretation of some may differ.

Motobu may not have been the most likable guy, but was one tough karate man. Contrary to the impression Jesse left us with that Motobu was not a kata guy, 10th dan founder of Matsubayashi Shorinryu, Nagamine Shoshin, (student of Motobu and Kyan) wrote, "Master Motobu had enormous respect for orthodox kata." He just emphasized the combat applications, especially of naihanchi kata.

Thanks to your inclusion of Jesse's video, we can understand the dynamics involving Motobu and Funakoshi. Its roots, in part, a result of their different social classes, education and life styles.
 
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Ivan

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So I don't know enough about karate to give any statements on the validity of jesse enkamp, besides that he's supposedly good. But it sounds like all your information is from him. Having only one source, no matter how reputable, is a very bad idea. Especially for something as modern as karate where there is a lot to draw from.
When it comes to history, all of my stuff comes from Jesse Enkamp and Wikipedia. I bought some books on the matter but I haven't gotten round to reading them yet.
But for technique and kata and application a personal favourite of mine is Fiore Tartaglia. I just bought his new book in which he explains every single technique in Shotokan Karate with great depth, detail and hand-drawn illustrations. You should look him up on YouTube.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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When it comes to history, all of my stuff comes from Jesse Enkamp and Wikipedia. I bought some books on the matter but I haven't gotten round to reading them yet.
But for technique and kata and application a personal favourite of mine is Fiore Tartaglia. I just bought his new book in which he explains every single technique in Shotokan Karate with great depth, detail and hand-drawn illustrations. You should look him up on YouTube.
You should really use more than just the one (and a half) sources for the history. At least if you're going to be writing about it.
 

Ivan

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You should really use more than just the one (and a half) sources for the history. At least if you're going to be writing about it.
I've not written anything on this topic. Don't worry, I at least know that much.
 

Hakkan Mordrake

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Funakoshi was a sellout. Anko was an insecure man-child.

Idiots, idiots everywhere.
 

Paul Calugaru

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Your post appears to really overglorify a man and his deeds in the karate realm. However, you need to look no further than his real fight against Motobu Choki in 1930, and his subsequent defeat in order to understand what Funakoshi's karate might have been like in practical terms. In 1925 King Magazine had showcased a fight between Motobu Choki and an Estonian boxer names Jan/John Kantel (George). Motobu Choki was the winner of that fight, however King Magazine showed Funkashi's picture with the name of Motobu Choki right under it. This is not clear whether magazine did it intentionally or not. I could neither find any information pointing to the fact that Funakoshi had publicly rejecting him being the winner. Remarkably, Motobu Choki thought of Funakoshi as being too soft, and I'd tend to believe to what a real fighter Motobu Choki would have to say on this matter.

Just using fact checking and logic... First let me say " Many of you really.... need to do your fact checking." It's the age of the internet... "anyone can say or print anything!"

Yes I'm a Shotokan guy... seeing some weird unfounded revision of Funakoshi's karate.. leaves me itching to respond.

Respectfully: No real variable (primary or even secondary source material) supporting evidence outside Motobu Choki's small.... small... inner circle, that any confrontation happened between O"Sensei Funakoshi. Then... what little rumor there is ... doesn't describe it. Motobu had a reputation of a bully and a drunk..(that's factual ) known to fight in taverns and bars on the sea docks. (again factual) How many here are aware of that? It also is known that Motobu was kicked out of every dojo he trained in for his bad behavior... including Itsou's...(again factual! ) The ONLY kata Motobu is in on record knowing is Naihanchi (His own admission!!) (Factual again... ) He admits he learned it spying on Itsou's dojo through a hole in the fence. If.. if .... he did get physical with Funakoshi .. It wasn't in an official challenge form.

Why do we know that?


Because if it was... a lot more people other than a few select students of Motobu's would have recorded it!


LOGIC 101.

So what was it? (again if it really happened) Given Motobu's reputation of a drunken brawler. (i.e less than a honorable reputation) Given that Funakoshi wouldn't have lowered himself to Motobu's level. (or accepted challenges, which he didn't )

What was it? For all anyone knows Motobu in one of the many ceremonies captured on pictures, he turns to Funikoshi "say's "What would you do if... and jumps him."

Yep, it could have been that lame... we don't know! but given Motobu's reputation at that time? Gives a cause for pause "if" it really happened.

Let me Pile Drive this revision attempt into the dirt even more.

IF.... Funakoshi's Karate was junk and Motobu Choki's was such the master and thus better... WHERE are the cadre of master level karate-ka of the CHOKI MOTOBU RYU that traveled the globe.?

Where are they?


Where are the Karate-ka that rival Funakoshi's karate-ka? E.G. Gigo Funakoshi, Nishiyama, Nakayama, Kase, Okazaki, Tanaka, Enoeda, Asai, Kanazawa, Oshima, Osaka, Yahara (That's just the Japanese for starters)

Where are they?

Here is another FUN FACT! There is NO RECORD of a WESTERN BOXER traveling in Japan at the Time MOTOBU CHOKI supposedly defeated a boxer. NONE!~

Any evidence that documented the fight, was in a Newspaper article, now long gone... there are no original copies of the newspaper to be found! NONE survived the war. NORE any record of an Estonian boxer named Jan/John Kantel (George) ever being real, or in Japan at the time! (let alone fighting Judo-ka)

Little fact checking (and asking where these stories come from will debunk 99% of them)


(My favorite of the Motobu fight: the fine print of the bogus article circulating the internet: where it said Judo ka where challenging the boxer, but no throws or grappling was allowed! Hmmmm...LMAO! "what judo-ka is going to challenge a striker/boxer if they can't grapple and throw ? None in any era that I know. Doubt me? Just jump over to the Jit and Judo forum and ask those guys what they think of that!

That alone should give most of you a red flag!

Most martial art historians correlate the "Motobu Choki defeats Boxer" story with myths of similar Chinese kung fu experts exploits of the day... they typically never happened, all ype similar to Professional Wrestling WWF stuff! (i.e. think Huo Yuanjia... most of his exploits are nothing but tall tales) ... (Jet lee... movie all fake...

Ya, think maybe Jesse the Karate Nerd didn't do his homework?

Some Italian dude on the internet, states he saw a car with the logo "Bruno's Garage" lap a Ferrari in the 1950s .. but can't tell you the race, can't tell the year... all he knows is that Bruno had a garage. Officially there is no record of Bruno's Garage ever racing, or being in a race with Ferrari... SO is it.... "we believe Ferrari is junk and Bruno's Garage built a better race car?" cause a dude on the internet said it? (Yet, ignore the decades of Farrari racing excellence! and Bruno's absence in professional racing ?) And in the mix ... we also want to believe that Bruno built a better car too.

crazy... but....
That's the logic on display here!

Nothing against Motobu Ryu... Nothing against Okinwan Karate... just stating verifiable facts.
For all we know... Motobu Choki and Gichen Funakoshi had mutual respect for one another.



Logic and common sense and not believing everything you read on the internet (or in print for that matter..) Goes a long way...
 
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isshinryuronin

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I agree with some of your posting as you can tell from mine, earlier on this thread. For a newcomer here, you come on pretty strong whilst few of us know if you have any cred. Much of your posting and "verifiable facts" have been put out, perhaps, with not as much authority / accuracy as you may think.

The ONLY kata Motobu is in on record knowing is Naihanchi (His own admission!!) (Factual again... ) He admits he learned it spying on Itsou's dojo

He is on record of TEACHING only one kata, naihanchi. He KNEW several and respected them. I supplied an authoritative quote in support of this on my post #33 on this thread. Before getting accepted at Itosu's home (not dojo, I believe) he did spend some time observing (uninvited, before being accepted as a student.)

IF.... Funakoshi's Karate was junk and Motobu Choki's was such the master and thus better... WHERE are the cadre of master level karate-ka of the CHOKI MOTOBU RYU that traveled the globe.?

Motobu was not an easy teacher (very tough and uncompromising) and did not retain many students. This was also discussed earlier. As I again said earlier, what I have seen of Funakoshi and his top students, their skill level was high.

Where are the Tournament Champions of MOTOBU RYU?

Much of what Motobu taught would not be allowed in tournaments. He was, as you noted, an actual combat master and did not train for sport karate. Sport karate in Japan did not get popular till the 1930's and Motobu was near the end of his active training. Many of the old masters, and some current guys, recognized sport karate required some compromise of the original style and did not embrace it.

(My favorite of the Motobu fight: the fine print of the story where it said Judo ka where challenging the boxer, but no throws or grappling was allowed! (what judo-ka is going to challenge a striker if they can't grapple and throw ?

Karate was little known outside of Okinawa (and even in Okinawa) and was grouped in with Judo as a martial art. So, to the uninformed of that time, would have been described as a striking form of Judo.


Your "facts" are partially true, but do not reflect the full story / truth which is quite different.
 

Paul Calugaru

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I agree with some of your posting as you can tell from mine, earlier on this thread. For a newcomer here, you come on pretty strong whilst few of us know if you have any cred. Much of your posting and "verifiable facts" have been put out, perhaps, with not as much authority / accuracy as you may think.

He is on record of TEACHING only one kata, naihanchi. He KNEW several and respected them. I supplied an authoritative quote in support of this on my post #33 on this thread. Before getting accepted at Itosu's home (not dojo, I believe) he did spend some time observing (uninvited, before being accepted as a student.)



Motobu was not an easy teacher (very tough and uncompromising) and did not retain many students. This was also discussed earlier. As I again said earlier, what I have seen of Funakoshi and his top students, their skill level was high.



Much of what Motobu taught would not be allowed in tournaments. He was, as you noted, an actual combat master and did not train for sport karate. Sport karate in Japan did not get popular till the 1930's and Motobu was near the end of his active training. Many of the old masters, and some current guys, recognized sport karate required some compromise of the original style and did not embrace it.



Karate was little known outside of Okinawa (and even in Okinawa) and was grouped in with Judo as a martial art. So, to the uninformed of that time, would have been described as a striking form of Judo.


Your "facts" are partially true, but do not reflect the full story / truth which is quite different.

Street cred? I'm a Nidan in Shotokan currently working towards my sandan, my sensei is a Rokudan. I'm also a Nidan in Rokukai Aikido ( a blend of Aikido and Judo ) I have 3 BA's in Economics, History and Political Science. Which translates: I'm very immersed in sifting though primary, secondary and tertiary historical documents ...

There just isn't enough primary or secondary sources to draw from. Plenty of tertiary... but that amounts to hearsay... and not provable.


I think (not sure it's been a while since I read it) most of what I've typed about MOTOBU CHOKI came directly from Shochin Nagamine's book "Tales of Great Okinawan Masters" I believe it is in the "fine print" If my memory serves me he diplomatically paints Motobu (or his brother) Not in a decent light. IF you read Nagimani's book and took from his words a different perspective than me , that's ok, we all comprehend differently Yet, still doesn't refute anything I have highlighted about Funakoshi.

I will say at this point ... I don't play the internet semantics game that so many do when their premise is found to be suspect.

The Wikipedia site on Motubu Choki is suspect.... Click on the link to King Magazine (the magazine some here have cited as being the primary source of Motobu's defeat of the Boxer... You get taken to an African American Men's magazine. Why is that? I assuming because the King magazine never existed... I believe the origin story (the primary source) stems from an article in an Osaka Newspaper. Osaka like other major cities in WWII was utterly destroyed through fire bombing. The result.... There are NO primary sources existing of Motobu fighting a boxer in Japan, or for any Karate-ka fighting a Boxer at that time. (at least with my research... I couldn't find any) I also couldn't find any proof that a western boxer was touring Japan at that time. (other people also have looked... not being able to locate the Osaka newspaper article... people investigated the western boxer avenue... NOTHING! Ouch!

Most would say this is the end of the story, for Motobu Choki appears to have even less historical credibility than Funakoshi.

So many holes in this story line... Most skeptics doubt the claim he defeated (let alone fought) Funakoshi.

WE just don't know...

As a Shotokan karate-ka I find, the added "Drawn conclusion that Funakoshi's Karate was suspect to be a massive leap in non-fiction."

Not saying you personally have drawn that conclusion .. but some here have. You... IMO might be guilty of perceiving greatness in Motobu Choki that never was, (don't forget there is less actual primary source material on him than Funakoshi) There is no verifiable proof Motobu Choki had prowess other than at the tertiary level. An honest perspective research will yield he was not any better than any other Sensei teaching at that time.

If...we judge a sensei by what he leaves behind, his legacy ...i.e. Motobu Choki falls way short of Funakoshi (heck anyone outside of Kenwa Mabuni falls short... ) As you have acknowledge, One can not find the cadre of great masters that Motobu taught. This huge fact should have ended any debate on Motobu Choki Vs. Gichen Funakoshi long ago... it is insurmountable.. drives a stake right through any hypothesis that Funakoshi karate wasn't legit, that he sold out... etc etc...

I can't type anymore on this

Anymore would be to entertain the game of semantics, let the casual reader formulate their own opinion(s)
 
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