Interviews with Respected Elder Bushi, Choki Motobu Regarding Real Self-Defense - (Jissen) Episodes
Interview #1: Conducted by Young Karateka Practitioners
Differences Between Naihanchi Now and in the Past
Stories About Karate Instructors of the Past
Today's Martial Artists and Ancient Martial Artists
Compared to our ancient instructors, I don't think there are any skilled martial artists among today's samurai (bushi.) I think that today's young bushi are only practicing. If you want my opinion, there is not even true warrior in today's world.
Interview #2:The Way the Ancient Bushi, the Samurai, Trained Their Spirits and Polished Their Skills
When we were training by hitting the makiwara, we were not supposed to make any noise. Also when we trained with bo, we were not allowed to make the tick, tick, tick (kachi, kachi - the sound of the bo) noise caused by hitting two bo together, so we had to wrap our with straw.
Episode When Choki Won a 10 Yen Bet by Solving a Homework Problem (Figuring Out Ukete)
This happened when I was 20 years old. When Kameya, Yabu1 and my older brother (Chōyu Motobu) went to see Matsumora Sensei in Tomari for instruction, Matsumora Sensei asked them a question about how to block a certain attack. I heard that they could not figure out the answer even though they tried very hard to come up with it for a whole week.
So I told them, "I can do it right away. It's a piece of cake." My older brother and his friends became very angry about what I said. They said, "We will bet you 10 yen that you can't block that attack." We all went to Matsumora Sensei's place and I asked him, "May I show you how to block that attack in front of you ? I think that I know the answer to the homework question you posed to my brother and his friends the other day." Then I demonstrated the technique, easily blocking the attack.
Matsumora was stunned. He asked me:
This was how the bet was resolved. I won the bet and earned 10 yen. Ha, ha, ha.
There is no such technique in real fighting as to block with the left hand and punch / thrust with the right hand, or to block with the right hand and hit / thrust with the left. The hand used to block should also attack the enemy at the same time. It has to be one movement, not two separate movements of the hand. Today's kumite is just imitating karate kata. That does not work at all when it come to jissen.
Episode When Choki Motobu Punched Matsumora's Face With One Thrust (Ippon) and Matsumora's Teeth Started to Bleed
Mr. Ryōshō Kin asked Motobu a question:
"My father, Mr. Ryōjin Kin, used to tell me very often that you (Mr. Motobu) are a real bushi, samurai. My father also told me that Matsumora remarked about you, that 'When the man called Choki Motobu came to my (Matsumora's) place, we practiced kumite. Motobu punched my face one time during kumite training. I really thought this Motobu had great martial arts skills for such a young man.' Matsumora Sensei praised your skill greatly. Was this story true?"
Motobu answered, "It happened when I was 19. I went to Matsumora's place with Tamashiro from Kariya1 who was a Sumo wrestler, and I received kumite training there. Matsumora Sensei threw a punch at me. My hand blocked the punch and hit straight into Sensei's (Matsumora's) face. His teeth immediately begun to bleed. I took one step back and said, 'I am very sorry, Sensei.' But Sensei insisted, 'Don't stop, just keep punching and hitting me continuously.' Then I felt great, becoming more excited and kept on training. This was a true story. I never told anyone about this incident, but Yabu used to tell me that he knew about it."
Motobu continued: "There was a bushi named Kameya from Shuri Kubagawa. He was ten years older than me and very strong. I could barely block his attack with two hands. He used to treat me roughly from the ages of of eighteen or nineteen to twenty-one or twenty-two. So I trained very hard, and when I turned twenty-three, he couldn't beat me any more."
1. The site of former magistrate's office of Satsuma in Naha.
Interview #3 Episode When Choki Motobu Tricked His Friends by Wearing a Mask
On one occation, Hanashiro1, Chikara ("Strong") Takaesu from Īfu, Nakandakari from Mike, Yabu, and others got together and tried to get into Yabu's favorite social club at Shittaimon gate of Tsuji. I happened to see them going into that social club but I didn't want them to notice me. So I wore a mask (kōgakī in Okinawan), and I bumped into Strong Takaesu. In return, he decided to charge at me twice. I blocked his attacks and punched him two times. Takaesu lost his balance and couldn't walk straight. There was no way that he could challenge me anymore. Hanashiro, Yabu, and the others just stood there watching, and never attempted to help him. Then many more men tried to get inside the social club. I clapped my hands and removed the mask, laughing. They finally saw that it was me. Hanashiro and Yabu exclaimed: "We suspected that there could only be one man who could be able to make Takaesu that helpless and immobilized, and sure enough, it was you!" We all laughed together and went to have drinks.
Episode When Choki Motobu Scared Naha's Bushi (Samurai) And They Ran Away From Him
This is the story when I met Okuyama, the manager of landlord of the Katabaru area. He was also Naha's bushi. I was 30 years old at the time. Together with Yabu, we visited his favorite social club. On the way home, several of Naha's bushi surrounded us at the top of a sloping street corner. There, they attacked us. I stepped backward and took one guy down instantly - he collapsed right on the ground. Others saw what happened and they became frightened, then ran like hell !
The Riot at the Village Performance, when Choki Motobu was Surrounded by a Group of People with Bo
When I went to see the village festival of Nishibaru Onaha with several people including the respected elder Itarashiki1, I didn't notice that a group of men armed with bo (six foot wooden staff)2, were saying something behind my back. Suddenly they closed in and hit my hand with their bo. The bo bounced off and hit my groin. I squatted down and bore the pain. As soon as the pain was gone, I knocked down one of the attackers who was standing behind me. Then a riot broke out !
About seventy or eighty men with bo suddenly surrounded us and started to attack us. The people who came with me to the festival escaped right away. I had to fight all those enemies alone. Eventually, I jumped over a stone fence and hid among some bushes. Later, I luckily bumped into Shuri, who were holding lighted lanterns. They had come to look for me because they thought "Motobu must be dead after that riot." My parents were among them. I didn't want my parents to be worried about me, so I filled up both of my kimono sleeves with sand to eliminate all the wrinkles and tried to straighten them out after this brutal street fight. I told my parents, "Nothing happened, there was no riot." But there sure was and it was some riot!
1. Itarashiki Chōiku
2. The "Bo" in the story refers to a traditional long staff Bo used for dancing, not a weapon. Although in the story, the people used in as weapon in the
Episode When Choki Motobu Fought Against And Knocked Out A Foreign Boxer
I think it was around 1923 (Taisho 12)1. I went to watch a match with the foreign boxer John "somebody" in Kyoto. The boxer fought against a Judo stylist for the first match. This boxer fought very sluggishly. He looked like an amateur. I applied to challenge this boxer and bet money on the match. I was already over fifty years old at that time. I didn't have a chance to fight that day, so I went back there the next day. When I said (to the referee) that I would fight without groves, this boxer despised me, because he was much taller than me. And he treated me like a child, as he held my nose and twisted my cheek. I did not fight seriously during the first round and we took a break.
When I got up to fight the second round, I suddenly thought, "If I am defeated by such a foreign boxer, it will shame both karate and Okinawa. I want to beat this opponent." I determined to win the fight. As soon as the boxer came forward to attack with his full power, I hit his temple very hard with one punch in a rage. He collapsed right there. All the spectators got very excited, and with a thunderous round of applause, started to throw their floor cushions, cigarette holders, drawstring coin purses, and other things toward me.
It was such an exciting event, because such a big boxer (about 6 feet tall), and was knocked out by a karate technique.
Many newspaper articles stated that I hit the boxer with a flat (open) hand. However, I did not use the flat of my hand to hit him. I hit him with my fist, but the spectators thought my hand was flat since I hit him so fast; it was lightning fast.
The essence of karate is to move gently or casually, then immediately and explosively hit the enemy when the opportunity presents itself. This is karate jissen, actual fighting.
1. In the interview in Ryukyu shimpo, Choki Motobu Sensei’s best guess recollection was that his fight with the boxer took place in 1923 (Taisho 12). Conversely, the King magazine (1925 issue), stated that this famous event took place in November 1922 (Taisho 11).