Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

If I Were Motobu Sensei

We have all heard of the match between a Russian (or Estonian) boxer (or wrestler) and Choki Motobu (Motobu "Saru") in Kyoto in the 1920s. The boxer had been defeating Judo and Ju Jitsu people and basically putting down the Japanese. Up comes Motobu Sensei and in pretty short order, the boxer was either knocked out or killed, depending on who writes the story. But Motobu won, and Karate, an obscure art from Okinawa, became famous overnight (about three years later when an article appeared in King Magazine).

But here is my point. It was not a matter of life or death or the last resort. Motobu was apparently fighting for pride (of the Japanese or perhaps his own). I tend to think that it might have been a staged event, but in any case, it showed Karate as a spectacular thing rather than the form of self defense that it is.

If I were Motobu Sensei, I would not have fought the boxer. Now if the boxer attacked me on a dark street, that is another thing. But I would not accept a public challenge. And what if Motobu did kill the boxer? Was that justified? I don't think that the boxer was killing people.

You have to be careful about legends and "great" events. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. To me, wrong is wrong and this was not a good use of Karate.

My own form of Karate traces part of its roots to Motobu. Still, that does not mean that we should glorify the sensational and unnecessary use of Karate.

A hand is a treasure in the pocket.


Charles C. Goodin