Friday, December 27, 2013

Sayings of Motobu Choki


In 1978, an essay entitled “Collection of Sayings by Motobu Choki” was published in Japanese. This essay is based upon the oral teachings of Motobu Choki to his students, and was overseen by one direct student of Motobu, namely Marukawa Kenji. Let us now take a look at these “oral transmissions.”
1. Everything is natural, and changing.
2. Kamae is in the heart, not a physical manifestation.
3. One must develop the ability to read how much striking power any person has in one glance.
4. One does not have to take care to block every single attack by an opponent with weak striking power.
5. One must develop the ability to deflect an attack even from behind.
6. In a real confrontation, more than anything else one should strike to the face first, as this is the most effective.
7. Kicks are not all that effective in a real confrontation.
8.”Karate IS Sente” (Here, sente means the initiative, or the first move. c.f. Karate ni Sente Nashi – there is no first move in karate).
9. The position of the legs and hips in Naifuanchin no Kata is the basics of karate.
10. Twisting to the left or right from the Naifuanchin stance will give you the stance used in a real confrontation. Twisting ones way of thinking about Naifuanchin left and right, the various meanings in each movement of the kata will also become clear.
11. One must always try and block the attack at its source (i.e. block not the attacking hand, but deeper on the arm).
12. The blocking hand must be able to become the attacking hand in an instant. Blocking with one hand and then countering with the other is not true bujutsu. Real bujutsu presses forward and blocks and counters in the same motion.
13. One cannot use continuous attacks against true karate. That is because the blocks of true karate make it impossible for the opponent to launch a second attack.
14. I still do not yet know the best way to punch the makiwara. (note: this statement was made when Choki was over 60!!!)
15. It’s interesting, but when I just think about performing a kata, when I’m seated, I break a sweat.
16. When punching to the face, one must thrust as if punching through to the back of the head.
17. When fighting a boxer, it is better to go with his flow, and take up a rhythm with both of your hands.
18. It is necessary to drink alcohol and pursue other fun human activities. The art (i.e. karate) of someone who is too serious has no “flavour.”
19. It is OK to take two steps forward or back in the same kamae, but over three steps, one must change the position (facing) of their guard.
20. 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.
21. I started having real fights at Tsuji when I was young, and fought over 100 of them, but I was never hit in the face.
22. When I was 4, I was made to go to a school, but I hated studying, so I often skipped class and played somewhere with my friends.
23. When I was still in Okinawa, Kano Jigoro of the Kodokan visited and asked to talk with me, and through a friend we went to a certain restaurant. Mr. Kano talked about a lot of things, but about karate, he asked me what I would do if my punch missed. I answered that I would immediately follow with an elbow strike from that motion. After that, he became very quiet and asked nothing more about karate.
24. There are no stances such as neko-ashi, zenkutsu or kokutsu in my karate. Neko-ashi is a form of “floating foot” which is considered very bad in bujutsu. If one receives a body strike, one will be thrown off balance. Zenkutsu and kokutsu are unnatural, and prevent free leg movement. The stance in my karate, whether in kata or kumite, is like Naifuanchin, with the knees slightly bent, and the footwork is free. When defending or attacking, I tighten the knees and drop the hips, but I do not put my weight on either front or back foot, rather keeping it evenly distributed.
25. When blocking kicks, one must block as if trying to break the opponent’s shin.
26. When I came to Tokyo, there was another Okinawan who was teaching karate there quite actively. When in Okinawa I hadn’t even heard his name. Upon the 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 the 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. 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 the same way for a third time.
Translation  By Joe Swift (thanks Joe-San)_

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh FunkyDragon-san,

I am laughing while looking at the photo you selected. IMNTBMFHO, it reveals most of the relevant secrets of Naihanchi.

Kindest regards...

Matthew Kokidko said...

Who is he talking about in #26?

Victor Smith said...

Perhaps we might speculate this was meant as a dig at Funakoshi Sensei, perhaps someone else. What we have is what he wrote. The personalities are all gone, further speculation is pointless, and could fuel even more personality discussion which really is not productive. There is enough there that can be used productively. I for one would rather focus on what I can use.