This is the first of a two articles exploring the truths and misconceptions about Choki Motobu who was arguably one of Okinawa's greatest early twentieth century karate masters, and the most colorful. He was also the least understood and probably the most maligned.
Motobu was the third son in a great Okinawan family that had enjoyed privilege and landed nobility (Motobu peninsula), but which was largely ended by Japanese annexation of the island, modernization and social reorganization. A strong ox of a man with a will and ego to match, Motobu preferred the tough and tumble, practical karate over the pure practice of kata. Like many of his day, Motobu was not raised speaking Japanese nor was he schooled in the mainland's sophisticated etiquette and ways.
Before we begin, I need to make one thing absolutely clear: as Napoleon Bonaparte said, "History is a set of lies agreed upon". If you keep this firmly in mind, you can approach the "History" of 'Martial Arts' (this term, in and of itself is a lie, as today's so called 'Martial Arts' are nothing of the sort).
We can be sure that, from the beginning, man has been attacking each other. For whatever reasons, some have always taken advantage of the weaker. Thus, to use the modern terms, mankind split up into three groups: the wolves (operating either alone or in packs); the sheep (having no ability or current desire): and the sheepdogs (dedicated to defense of the sheep and themselves).
Finding the self-defense or martial arts training that is just right for you can be a confusing and frustrating experience. Not only are there many different styles, but there are hundreds of schools, each claiming to be the best and able to teach you what you need – whatever that may be. This is a quick rule-of-thumb guide to help clarify some of the confusion created by claims of schools that are competing for your business. It also can help you figure out exactly what you are looking for in the martial arts.