Aug 09

Karate-Do, the way of empty hands.

Some of my readers are aware that I was, for many years, a practitioner of karate. I trained in the Japanese systems of Shotokan and Shito-ryu and hold shodan (first degree) and nidan (second degree) certifications through the Shito-ryu International Karate-Do Kai, in Osaka, Japan.

I enjoyed my many years of involvement in the world of karate and have especially fond memories of Mabuni, Kenzo’s several visits to the United States in the 1990’s. He was a patient teacher with many years of personal experience and intimate understanding as inherited from his father, the creator of the Shito-ryu system, Mabuni, Kenwa. From friendly camaraderie of competitors to the many students who were always eager to learn and improve their abilities, from the grueling training regimen to the personal confidence of knowing how to handle any difficult situation. Karate-do offers a world of knowledge that goes far beyond kicking and punching. Indeed! Karate-do is a fascinating self-defense art form with a rich cultural and historical lineage.

This picture was taken circa 1995.

This brief introduction to a reading list of martial arts books is from an article I wrote for the dojo newsletter.

In an effort to enhance your karate education and experience, there are a number of excellent written texts that any serious practitioner of the martial arts should add to his/her library for study and reference.

For the beginner and advanced student alike– Karate-Do My Way of Life, by Gichin Funakoshi.

This is a quaint and personal account of life in Okinawa in the late 19th and early 20th Century, written by the man considered to be the father of modern karate and the founder of the Shotokan system.

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

This book is full of insights dealing with the philosophy, strategy and the tactics of war/fighting. In a very profound way it has applicability to one’s daily life.

Dynamic Karate, by Masatoshi Nakayama

A very well done Photo-manual of the fundamentals of Japanese Karate. Everything is covered from foot and hand positions to stances and proper hip rotation and generation of power as taught by the long time head (now deceased) of Japanese Karate Association.

For the more advanced student of Japanese/Okinowan karate–

Bubishi, The Bible of Karate, translated with comment by Patrick McCarthy, is a very complex study of history, philosophy, herbal pharmacology, vital point manipulation and more. Three other books geared more for advanced level students and very deep reading for most:

Hagakure/The Book of the Samurai, by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

The Unfettered Mind, by Takuan Soho

A Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi

If you have consumed all of the aforementioned titles and find yourself yet thirsting after more knowledge, you may look into another book also by Funakoshi– Karate-Do- Kyohan/the master text, is a great study of Shotokan system Kata and more history and martial philosophy.

Sensei Nakayama also published a number of volumes in series:

Practical Karate volumes 1-10

Karate in Action vol. 1-5

Best Karate vol. 1-4

Some of these are very basic others are quite illuminating. My personal favorites are the Practical Karate volumes #3, 4, 5 and 6

These are just some of the many books available in this body of knowledge. I hope you seek out some of these titles and broaden your overall understanding of karate.





Permanent link to this article:


    • Peter Le on September 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply

    Have you heard of the Budoshoshinshu by Daidoji Yuzan, I like the fact that the martial arts are steeped in culture and history. This book is more along the lines of the unfettered mind and the book of Five rings, but interesting if you like to peek into the mind-set of historic martial artists.

    another book I’ve bought, but have yet to read is the Demons sermon on the martial arts, looks very heavy on the philosophy side….will let you know !!!

    1. Thanks, Peter.
      Please do keep me informed of opinion about the book. I will be interested to hear further comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.