Karate Thoughts Blog

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Karate Books

I have access to a very large collection of Karate books. At one time, I was even paid to read and review them for a local newspaper.

You can learn a lot about Karate from books, but in my opinion, you cannot learn Karate. You can learn about the history and traditions of the art, dates and places, names and events, stories and biographies, but you cannot learn the basics, mechanics, kata, and techniques of the art. You can learn about these things, but not how to properly do them.

I have met people who had learned kata from books. Their movements were terrible. How could they be otherwise? A series of photographs can only show you pieces of a kata. No matter how many photographs are shown, there are many more pieces to the sequences.

Learning Karate requires the guidance of a qualified Sensei. Learning is a hands on thing. It actually requires two things: a qualified Sensei and a dedicated student. It takes both. A student cannot learn without a qualified Sensei and a Sensei cannot really teach without a dedicated student.

If you are learning Karate from a qualified Sensei, books could be helpful. Without a Sensei, books can be interesting at best. At worst, they can lead a student to learn many mistakes and form many bad habits.

I have mentioned before that I have met students who performed kata with a count corresponding the the photographs of a book. And a certain points, they would shout out "kiai" just like the photographs instructed. Did I mention that one of these students was a yudansha?

I really enjoy books. I have spent a considerable sum acquiring them for the Hawaii Karate Museum. But I always keep in mind that the best Karate book in the world cannot replace a good Sensei. To me, a good Sensei is worth more than all the books in the world!

Still... I certainly would like to acquire originals of Motobu Sensei's two books for the Hawaii Karate Museum during this life. (Smile) We actually have nice reprints, but I am determined to locate originals.


Charles C. Goodin