Saturday, July 4, 2015

“The Essence of Naha-te” by Joe Swift

It in my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the book, “The Essence of Naha-te” by Joe Swift.


When you consider the growth that ‘karate’ has had world wide since WWII to expand to the entire world, one of the things that frustrates us is there is so little source documentation from those earlier years.


Of course then training was private, a sort of class privilege, and most information was passed orally by the instructor. There was not a great deal written on Karate until the 1920’s onward.


Joe Swift, who began In Isshinryu in NY State, minored in Japanese in college, Relocating to Kanazawa later, then he started studying Mushikan (also a Naha-te derivative system), visiting Okinawa, and working with Many Japanese instructors in many styles. He became known for assisting with translations of earlier documents, to many friends.


This book represents almost a 30 year study of what documentation was available. It is not large but IMO farily explains the roots of many modern systems (such as Goju, Toon and Uechi)


I see it as a personal explanation of the Naha-te tradition.It does share how some first saw Naha-te traditions. Helping us understand those earlier years. Back when the Toudi (earlier Karate traditions) were not about belts, rank but intense training.


A solid glimpse into the past.


Most insightful into those traditions.



It was almost 30 years ago when I met Joe-San over the internet. We used to chat nightly. I think he had fun explaining how I did not know Japanese and how I could put my foot in my mouth from that lack of knowledge. It was he who first asked me to translate some French documents, beginning my own brief foray into translation. He certainly helped guide my own thinking.


One day. On a visit to his parents, he even came to visit. That was a great day.


I believe this book will be invaluable to you. Whether your art is in Naha-te tradition or not.

Joe-san Swift performing Tensho kata in Derry, NH.

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