Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On August - 8 - 2013

I haven’t reviewed a book in a while, so I decided to do two.


completeshotokanThe Complete Shotokan Karate: History, Philosophy, and Practice by Robin Reilly

This was a really good book and I highly recommend it for a reference text. This book is really two books in one.

The first part covers the history of karate from the possible origins in India (with some hints of maybe Greece). It follows the art through China and Okinawa to mainland Japan. The book also discusses the aspects of Japanese history, culture and the samurai and Zen connections to karate. It is difficult to find historical writings about karate. Any sources of historical information is great to have. I always suggest cross referencing any information you find on the history of this art.

The second part is heavily illustrated with over 600 photos and several drawings. This section covers kumite (sparring)  drills and nine shotokan katas (forms). Some of the drills are common while a few others very interesting. Personally, I only skimmed through the second part of the book. It was mainly information that I already knew. But I did review the drills and may use some when I teach at my dojo in the fall. The katas that are covered are written out move for move but if you are looking for a reference on katas, I suggest Master Nakayama’s Best Karate series of books.

Sensei Robin Reilly, 8th Dan, is a member of the ISKF Technical Committee and has over 52 years of experience.


mythsShotokan Myths: The Forbidden Answers to the Mysteries of Shotokan Karate by Shihan Kousaku Yokota

This book is great! It is made up of several chapters on different topics.

The topics are common to every Shotokan karate student but Shihan Yokota has some interesting views. He takes some of the common myths in karate and smashes them.

A few examples of those myths are;

Fighting a big (police) dog is a Dan examination requirement
A black belt must register his fists at the police (like a gun)
A technique exists called “three year death” and a victim will die in three years after he receives a secret punch

Shihan Yokota also covers Kime, Hikite, Silent Kiai, bunkai and lots more. He has interesting views on some old concepts. I recommend this book to seasoned karateka. I think that some of his concepts may cause confusion. The book is easy to read and well written.

Shihan Yokota, 8th Dan, has studied Shotokan karate, judo and other martial arts. He was a member of the Japan Karate Association for decades before joining the Japan Karate Shotorenmei.



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