"Criticized by some and admired by many, Choki Motobu was a master both unique and controversial. His attitude to combat contrasted with that of many of his contemporaries and especially the master Gichin Funakoshi who practiced and taught only prearranged sparring (kihon kumite) and rejected the practice of free sparring (Jiyu Kumite). In contrast Motobu was not only a fervent supporter of Jiyu Kumite, but even carried his passion for the fight ... to the streets. This is the story of one of the most prominent figures in the popularization and development of karate in a time when the martial art was taking its first steps on Japan."
Choki Motobu was born in Shuri Okinawa in 1871 in a noble family of Okinawa, his clan was the owner of an ancient and secret family martial art, which traditionally could only be taught the firstborn of Motobu (in the Okinawa those days it was customary to address mostly the education and training of the eldest son) and Choki ranked third in the line of family succession, this art was known as Udon-te (which means art palace), as well as Goten-te, Tui-te (although the tui-te is rather focused on Holds, takedowns and joint-locks) or more properly as Motobu-te.
Therefore the most widespread opinion among scholars of the origins of Karate is Choki Motobu did not get to study the style of his family and in fact was, as tradition dictated, his older brother and heir Choyu Motobu the eleventh generation in the art of Udon-te. However here are sources who think otherwise, as the French teacher and writer Henry Plee or writer and martial artist Patrick Lombardo, these authors argue that it is illogical that Choki knew nothing of his family's art if Choyu and his older brother, apart from teaching the art to his son Chomo also taught someone outside the family; Seikichi Uehara 1, current soke of Motobu-ryu style.
It is therefore quite likely that Choki Motobu, although perhaps not in depth, at least had basic knowledge of the secret art of his family, the Udon-I.
Back to the history of Motobu, from an early age he was very attracted to the combat, and his character was particularly aggressive, it is said that his main motivation for studying karate was to become the best fighter on Okinawa, precisely by his violent mood, he had many problems to be accept as a student by his teachers. Although he did study with the legendary Anko Itosu and Kosaku Matsumura Sokon, Tokumine (who also taught him the use of the Bo) and Yabu Kentsu who taught him mainly Kata, although he did receive "a lesson or two on kumite" by Yabu
It is well known anecdote that the teacher refusing to teach Kosaku Matsumura kumite techniques Motobu (for Motobu's violent tendencies), Motobu learned by watching his teacher secretly at night, when Kosaku taught these techniques to his other students.
Kosaku agreed to teach the Matsumura kata Naifanchi Passai and being the favorite and one of the foundations of Karate Motobu, who otherwise performed this kata with special expertise.
Motobu had many battles and challenges throughout his life and especially in his youth, in those days there were challenges between fighters from different schools or teachers and Choki, of course, was a fervent supporter and practitioner.
Such was his passion for combat,he even used to hang around unsavory neighborhoods to get into street fights, where he could test his combat skills and fighting prowess.
He won many of these challenges with fighters of different styles: Karate, wrestling, boxing, jiu jutsu practitioners and street fighters ... but as it is logical also was defeated the best known of his loses he had was against a very experienced street fighter and karateka Itarashiki Choiku also against Kentsu Yabu (later to become his teacher). Of these defeats Motobu learned and work even harder on improving his weaknesses and honing his combat skills.
Choki Motobu was naturally very strong , and also regularly practiced traditional weight training and was thrilled with the makiwara work (which is counted in Ippon ken hitting), but its main asset was his extraordinary agility, Hence comes he received the nickname "saru" (monkey).
The main characteristics of his fighting style, that as we have seen had a heavy emphasis in real fighting, used a high and comfortable guard, which allowed good mobility, the fists pulled directly from the guard position, using also trapping and elbow techniques, on the leg techniques he used below the waist, preferably at the knee.
His student Katsuya Miyahira that his favorite technique was ippon ken (a peculiar form of a fist leaving the phalanx of a finger out) and that he got many KO's in his challenges, he was also very fond of using the open hand and combinining a circular Uraken (punch using the backhand).
His most renowned fight was developed shortly after arriving in Japan, in 1921, it should be noted that Motobu and Gichin Funakoshi were the first to embark on the adventure of making karate known in Japan, it seems that Choki Motobu Funakoshi had a warm relation as colleagues and they used to meet frequently to talk about his great passion for karate, but due to their opposing characters it must also be said that there were some disputes and problems between both.
As we were saying the fight that gave more recognition Motobu took place in 1921, having already Choki with approximately 50 years of age...
During a trip to Kyoto, Motobu decided to make a stop on his way to look at a fair that was taking place and to his astonishment he got to meet boxer 2* (Russian?) so haughty that challenged all present, the fighter had knocked and ridiculed several of those who had dared to accept the challenge (the height and bulk of the Russian, were above the average Japanese). Motobu, despite his age had continued his passion for fighting and without hesitation accepted the challenge and rose to the fore, the result: Choki put out of action the boxer with a punch with the palm of the hand.
3* The story of the battle turned to Japan and karate, which was then almost unknown and considered as a minor art (let alone belonging to Budo) used by the Okinawans began to take its place among the Japanese martial arts .
Choki Motobu was a master of karate, particularly for hsi combat skills (although he was also very good at kata), among his students are great teachers, as Yasuhiro Konishi, Shosin Nagamine (10 Matsubayashi Ryu given), Hironori Ottsuka ( founder of Wado ryu school), Katsuya Miyahira (10 Kobayashi give Shorinryu) or Chitose (Chito Ryu) among others.
Motobu was an important figure in the history of karate, was the first to take him to Japan, wrote and published what would be one of the first books in Japan of Karate, "Okinawa kempo karate-jutsu 4*
But above all Motobu was a warrior who was able to perfect the arts of combat through his experience in actual combat. Some say that his attitude to combat was violent and barbaric contrary to the true spirit of karate .. others think that a teacher was consistent in the practice of a martial art and got where others did not
Controversy aside, Choki Motobu was a master, still both his detractors and his admirers, are fascinated by him and his story can only makes a dream
The grand master Choki Motobu (1870 - 1944)
Notes: 1 There is a style of Karate called Motobu-ryu, this style has nothing to do with Motobu Choki, its founder, Grandmaster and considered living treasure of Japan, Uehara Seikichi, call it to his art in honor of his master Motobu Choyu (Choki's elder brother).
3 The story of the battle was published in the journal "King", very popular in Japan at that time, translation and commentary of that article can be found in the book "Histoire du Karate-do" Kenji Tokitsu, Ed SEM, Paris.
4 Currently there is an English version of this book, entitled "Okinawan Kempo" by Motobu Choki, published by Masters publications, Ontario, Canada
Original publisher David Leonardo Bárcena (in spanish in the site spainkakutogi.blogspot.com)
Article (spanish) http://spainkakutogi.blogspot.com/20...violencia.html
Translation by Google translator and me (with a little help by my cousin)