Funakoshi and Motobu

Funakoshi and Motobu - Did Funakoshi Get His Butt Kicked?

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Funakoshi and Motobu

Funakoshi Got His Butt Kicked?

NOTE: You should understand that my teaching style is often VERY direct. At times, I even use explicit language…which may offend some people. This teaching style often goes against what many people “expect” from a teacher or instructor. And, sometimes this offends what many people in the West call “the Ego”. If this teaching style is NOT for you then I strongly encourage you to find another teacher that better matches your current needs and expectations.
I don’t want any Shotokan folks to have their heads explode…

 

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Funakoshi and Motobu Motobu Choki

Funakoshi and Motobu…did you know that they got into a fight? That is, Funakoshi Gichin and Motobu Choki. As is the case with many things related to the martial arts of Japan and Okinawa (really, all Oriental countries and martial arts), the details are a bit “clouded”. But, we know for sure that Motobu Choki was no fan of Funakoshi. And, he most certainly was a fighter.  And, according to the historical writers, Funakoshi was no fan of Motobu. In this posting, we will try to take a deep look at the two (2) respected karate practioners and what historical accounts remain of their supposed confrontation. Be sure to share your thoughts on this at the bottom of the page. What do you think? Not to worry! I’ll give you my thoughts and opinion in the closing section of the post.

If you have not read my post/article on my Shotokan Karate-do training, you can click below to view it. It could, potentially, give you some additional insight as to my background1The TLDR version is that Shotokan Karate-do was the first martial art that I seriously studied and eventually obtained a Yondan  – 四段 – 4th degree black belt and why I decided the Shotokan Karate-do was and is not for me.

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Motobu Choki

If you are not familiar with Motobu Choki2本部 朝基, April 5 1870 – April 15 1944, you should be! In my opinion, he is the “original karate badass” and certainly deserves a few minutes of your research time.

Nothing is more harmful to the world than a martial art that is not effective in actual self-defense.Motobu Choki

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfXWu4AteXg” /]

The video above was created by Jesse Enkamp3 aka The Karate Nerd…you can find his website at Karate By Jesse…on occasions some good reads when you have the time. BTW, I just noticed that what I said here could be taken in a negative light…and I don’t mean it that way. I believe that someone of my age may not be his target demographic. So, some of his social media and postings are probably geared more towards a younger audience. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. Just clarifying…. I tend to agree with him referring to Motobu Choki as the most dangerous karate fighter.

 

Kodawari Hombu Dojo Side Note

Uehara Seikichi

12th Soke

Ryukyu Oke Hiden Motobu Udunti

You can’t really have a discussion of any member of the Motobu family and their fighting or combative arts without making a quick side note that references the extremely interesting character that is Uehara Seikichi.

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Unfortunately, when it comes to the Motobu family combative arts, there is a HUGE amount of incorrect information out there. Let’s try to clear it all up with primary source material.

Nihon Denryu Heihou Motobu Kenpo (Japan Traditional Fighting Tactics Motobu Kenpo) is one of the most historic and pedigreed schools of karate in Japan, founded by master Motobu Choki sensei in 1922. It is more commonly known as Motobu-ryu karate-jutsu or Motobu-ryu karate-dō.Motobu-ryu website (from the Japanese)
About eighty years have passed since I began learning bujutsu from my teacher, Choyu Motobu Sensei. I attribute my continuing good health, at my present age of ninety-three, in part to the fact that I have adhered to Sensei’s teachings and never neglected my daily bujutsu training. Today, I would like to talk about some things I was taught by Sensei some eighty years ago and the history of Motobu Udun Ti. I hope my talk will help you get to know a little more about the Ryukyuan art of Motobu Udun Ti.Uehara Seikichi ~ 12th Soke of the Ryukyu Oke Hiden Motobu Udun Ti
Currently there is a Karate teacher called Uehara Seikichi, who was a disciple of this Motobu Umē [Chōyū]. The technique (Te) that this Uehara Seikichi uses, currently in Okinawa is called Koden Bujutsu Motobu-ryū Torite. This Torite means entering the opponent’s attack at the moment he comes in (and then control and throw him).Motobu-ryu website article

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdyD-NFJF1Q” /]

Listed below are some of the best products you will find (they are few and far between!) by and about Motobu Choki, Motobu Udun Ti and Uehara Seikichi. If you have any interest in these arts or the lineage of these arts, all are highly recommended!

Additional information can be found by clicking on the link below. This is to the Motobu-ryu website in Japan. It is in Japanese, but if you use the translator built into your web browser, there is some very interesting information there as well. This link will open in a new browser tab, so you can always bookmark it and come back to it at a later date.

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Funakoshi Gichin

Most people are familiar with Funakoshi Gichin. At least by name. After all, he is called (by some) the father of modern karate4Personally, I would call him the father of modern Japanese karate-do. But, to be honest, that is a little splitting of hairs. More on that to come in future postings here..

Funakoshi was, of course, the founder of Shotokan Karate-do5松濤 – Shoto – translates to “pine waves” and kan – 館 – which translates to “house” or “hall”.. And, he does deserve quite a bit of the credit for making modern karate-do6Please note that I am using karate-do very specifically and this is quite different than the karate-jutsu that was being taught and studied at this time on Okinawa. an internationally studied art that is popular with millions and millions of folks.

Interestingly, among his peers and teachers, Funakoshi was never considered a dominant fighter or technician. He gained his reputation as a gentleman of elegant thought; a man of philosophy, linguistic skill, political acumen, and of course karate talent.

In reference to the quote directly above, I have some issues. So much so that I just can’t let it go without commenting on it. You can decide for yourself it is applicable and respond accordingly.

Look, we practice martial arts.

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It’s widely known that Motobu and Funakoshi didn’t really like each other. The two really could not be more different…like oil and water. Here’s a quick quote to give you an idea:

When Motobu came up to Tokyo, Gichin Funakoshi had already been teaching there for several years, and a certain amount of ill-feeling arose between the two men, who had known each other back in Okinawa. It was something like a question of who was to assume the leadership of karate in Japan, but really, the two men were incompatible personalities. Gichin Funakoshi, for instance, seemed to feel that Motobu did not really understand the true nature of karate. Funakoshi, a man who valued propriety and culture, criticized Motobu’s lack of education-he called him an illiterate-and his rough behavior. For his part, Choki Motobu said that Funakoshi’s art was just an imitation karate, not much more than a dance.Graham Noble - Dragon Times article

But, here’s what probably caused more issues than anything else. In 1922, Motobu (at the age of 52) fought a foreign boxer in a public match and after a few rounds was said to have knocked the boxer out with a single strike to the head. Later, King Magazine printed a large article that recounted the match. Have a look:

Does That Look Like Anyone We Know?

That Could NOT Have Gone Over Well!

As I have said before and I will, no doubt, be saying many more times in the future…

When I first came to Tokyo, there was another Okinawan [Funakoshi] who was teaching Karate there quite actively. When in Okinawa I hadn’t even heard of his name! Upon guidance of another Okinawan, I went to the place he was teaching youngsters, where he was running his mouth, bragging. Upon seeing this, I grabbed his hand, took up a position of kake-kumite and said, ‘what will you do?’ He was hesitant, and I thought to punch him would be too much, so I threw him with kote-gaeshi at which he fell to the ground with a thud.

So, at this point and based upon the quote from above, I think it is appropriate to unwind things a bit before moving on (get everyone on the same page) and define some terms being used here.

kote gaeshi

If you are not familiar with Aikido, Aikijutsu, Aikibudo, Jujutsu or the like (I have a Yondan in Matsukaze Aikibudo7Matsukaze Aikibudo – 松風合気武道 –  a gendai budo – 現代武道 – meaning a “modern martial art” and refers to any Japanese or Okinawan martial art created after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and a renshi teaching license…so I am familiar with it…OUCH!), you might not be familiar with the technique that Motobu says that he used. Kote-gaeshi8 小手返し – 小手 refers to the forearm and 返 means to turn over is a very interesting technique. I won’t take you through all of the minutiae around it, but I do want to bring up one key aspect of it. Kote-gaeshi can be done one of three ways. Reference the image directly above to follow along. First, the “nice” way to do it is that you apply a very painful lock to their wrist. It is uke’s9uke – 受け – the receiver of the technique or the person the technique is being applied to right wrist/arm and tori’s10tori – 取り – the attacker or person applying the technique left hand (grabbing the opponent’s right). This, in itself, can be a quite painful [compliance] technique when done correctly. Second, in the image above, you can see tori’s right hand coming down to uke’s left hand. When pressure is applied (in the direction shown by the arrow) and, usually combined with a little taisabaki11taisabaki – 体捌き – whole body movement or shifting will force a [painful] throw or fall. Lastly, if tori were to slam his right hand into uke’s locked hand/wrist, it will generate a very nasty break.12Yes, technically speaking, it could be a dislocation. But, as I told a medical doctor at a seminar once…it the joint does not function as it should, it is broken.

Now things get really interesting! Kake-kumite…do you know what this is? Based on my experience, not many people do. Even those that study Okinawan based martial arts. This and all of the related information is a long post or article in itself. I’ll do my best to keep it as short as possible while still providing enough information for you to do your own research should it be of interest.

Most people should be familiar with kumite (NO! Not the movie!). Kumi or 組 is translated as unite, cooperate, grapple. And te (手), of course, means hand. Many of you probably do ippon kumite (一本組手), sanbon kumite (三本組手),  gohon kumite (五本組手) and/or jiyu-kumite (自由組手).

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If you have not read anything about my background and training, you should know that the first martial art that I studied seriously was Shotokan Karate-do. I did spend a number of years training in Shotokan and achieved a fairly high rank. I will be writing more about this soon. However, if you are interested, you can read about my background here or clicking below:

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  • 1
    The TLDR version is that Shotokan Karate-do was the first martial art that I seriously studied and eventually obtained a Yondan  – 四段 – 4th degree black belt
  • 2
    本部 朝基, April 5 1870 – April 15 1944
  • 3
    aka The Karate Nerd…you can find his website at Karate By Jesse…on occasions some good reads when you have the time. BTW, I just noticed that what I said here could be taken in a negative light…and I don’t mean it that way. I believe that someone of my age may not be his target demographic. So, some of his social media and postings are probably geared more towards a younger audience. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. Just clarifying…
  • 4
    Personally, I would call him the father of modern Japanese karate-do. But, to be honest, that is a little splitting of hairs. More on that to come in future postings here.
  • 5
    松濤 – Shoto – translates to “pine waves” and kan – 館 – which translates to “house” or “hall”.
  • 6
    Please note that I am using karate-do very specifically and this is quite different than the karate-jutsu that was being taught and studied at this time on Okinawa.
  • 7
    Matsukaze Aikibudo – 松風合気武道 –  a gendai budo – 現代武道 – meaning a “modern martial art” and refers to any Japanese or Okinawan martial art created after the Meiji Restoration of 1868
  • 8
    小手返し – 小手 refers to the forearm and 返 means to turn over
  • 9
    uke – 受け – the receiver of the technique or the person the technique is being applied to
  • 10
    tori – 取り – the attacker or person applying the technique
  • 11
    taisabaki – 体捌き – whole body movement or shifting
  • 12
    Yes, technically speaking, it could be a dislocation. But, as I told a medical doctor at a seminar once…it the joint does not function as it should, it is broken.
  • 1
    The TLDR version is that Shotokan Karate-do was the first martial art that I seriously studied and eventually obtained a Yondan  – 四段 – 4th degree black belt
  • 2
    本部 朝基, April 5 1870 – April 15 1944
  • 3
    aka The Karate Nerd…you can find his website at Karate By Jesse…on occasions some good reads when you have the time. BTW, I just noticed that what I said here could be taken in a negative light…and I don’t mean it that way. I believe that someone of my age may not be his target demographic. So, some of his social media and postings are probably geared more towards a younger audience. And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. Just clarifying…
  • 4
    Personally, I would call him the father of modern Japanese karate-do. But, to be honest, that is a little splitting of hairs. More on that to come in future postings here.
  • 5
    松濤 – Shoto – translates to “pine waves” and kan – 館 – which translates to “house” or “hall”.
  • 6
    Please note that I am using karate-do very specifically and this is quite different than the karate-jutsu that was being taught and studied at this time on Okinawa.
  • 7
    Matsukaze Aikibudo – 松風合気武道 –  a gendai budo – 現代武道 – meaning a “modern martial art” and refers to any Japanese or Okinawan martial art created after the Meiji Restoration of 1868
  • 8
    小手返し – 小手 refers to the forearm and 返 means to turn over
  • 9
    uke – 受け – the receiver of the technique or the person the technique is being applied to
  • 10
    tori – 取り – the attacker or person applying the technique
  • 11
    taisabaki – 体捌き – whole body movement or shifting
  • 12
    Yes, technically speaking, it could be a dislocation. But, as I told a medical doctor at a seminar once…it the joint does not function as it should, it is broken.

About Michael Davis

Michael Davis
Beginning his martial training almost 50 years ago, Michael Davis has spent almost his entire adult life attempting to internalize, add to and propagate the body of knowledge that makes up the principles and techniques of the life preserving combative arts and sciences. Michael has taught or assisted with the teaching of seminars and events in 17 US states and four countries. In addition to training every day martial artists, he has taught members of the US military as well as law enforcement at every level...from local LEOs to Federal Marshalls and US Secret Service agents (protective detail). He has co-authored a martial arts book, written numerous magazine articles that were published internationally as well as appearing in and assisting with the production of martial arts videos and other training materials.
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