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Motobu Versus The...

Most Karate students are aware that Choki Motobu faced and defeated a Western boxer around 1923. The King magazine article a couple of years later literally put Karate on the map.

The boxer, Jan Kentel, may have actually been an Eastern European wrestler. The King illustrations show the opponent wearing boxing gloves, but they also show Gichin Funakoshi rather than Motobu. So the illustrations are questionable at best.

But I wonder, if we could go back in time, what the result of the match would have been if Motobu Sensei had faced one of today's mixed martial arts champions -- say Chuck Liddell. I am serious. Do you think the result would have been the same?

Kentel apparently did not know that Motobu was a Karate expert. He probably did not even know there was such a thing as Karate. He had been taking on Judo/Ju Jitsu challengers and probably thought that Motobu was just another grappler, and a 50+ year old one at that!

Judo students were not trained to fight boxers. If the boxer did not wear a gi, it was hard for Judo students to get a good hold. They generally did not punch or kick.

But today's mixed martial artists can punch, kick, grapple... and everything in between. And the top MMA fighters are in great shape.

I mean no disrespect to the memory of Motobu Sensei. I just wonder how the fight would have gone. Without the fight and the King article showing a Japanese (Okinawan) defeating a westerner, who knows how Karate would have developed on mainland Japan?


Charles C. Goodin