Are There Any Noteworthy Stories or Anecdotes About Motobu?

Motobu is a name that holds significance in the world of martial arts and Okinawan culture. Known for his exceptional skills and formidable reputation, Motobu Choki is a pivotal figure in the history of karate and self-defense techniques. However, beyond his martial prowess, Motobu’s life is also adorned with numerous captivating stories and anecdotes that offer a glimpse into his personality, philosophy, and memorable encounters. In this exploration, we will delve into Motobu’s intriguing life, aiming to uncover some of the noteworthy stories and anecdotes that surround this legendary figure.

Exploring the Legends of Motobu

Uncovering the Life of a Karate Pioneer

Motobu Choki, a renowned figure in the world of karate, was born on April 5, 1870, in Akahira Village, Okinawa. He hailed from a prominent martial arts family, with his father, Motobu Choshin, being a respected practitioner of Okinawan martial arts. As a young boy, Motobu was exposed to the intricacies of karate and its various styles, laying the foundation for his future journey as a martial artist.

Motobu Choki, a renowned figure in the world of karate, was born into a martial arts family and went on to establish his own unique style known as Motobu-ryu. He was known for his impressive strength and skill, as showcased in various stories and anecdotes. Some notable examples include his fearless encounter with 60 sumo wrestlers, his victories in challenge matches against practitioners of other martial arts styles, and his memorable sparring matches with the Gracie family. Motobu’s commitment to practicality, his extensive training and exploration, and his unique training methods have left an indelible mark on the world of karate, inspiring and influencing martial artists worldwide.

The Influence of the Motobu Family

The Motobu family’s impact on the development of karate cannot be understated. Motobu Choki’s grandfather, Matsumura Sokon, was a legendary figure in Okinawan martial arts, known for his expertise in the Shuri-te style. This lineage of martial arts excellence greatly influenced Motobu Choki, shaping his approach to training and combat.

The Motobu-Ryu Style

Motobu Choki eventually established his own unique style of karate, known as Motobu-ryu. This style incorporated elements from various martial arts disciplines, including Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te. Motobu’s approach emphasized practicality and effectiveness in real-life combat situations, making it a highly sought-after style amongst martial artists.

The Legendary Feats of Motobu Choki

Motobu Choki’s prowess as a martial artist was legendary, and he was known for his incredible strength and skill. Numerous stories and anecdotes have been passed down through generations, showcasing his remarkable abilities. Here are a few noteworthy tales that offer a glimpse into Motobu’s martial arts journey:

  1. Motobu Choki and the 60 Sumo Wrestlers

One of the most famous stories about Motobu Choki recounts his encounter with 60 sumo wrestlers during a visit to Tokyo in 1921. Motobu, known for his smaller stature, fearlessly took on each wrestler one by one, defeating many of them with his precision and technique. This impressive display solidified his reputation as a formidable martial artist.

  1. Motobu Choki’s Challenge Matches

Motobu Choki was known for his willingness to engage in challenge matches, where he would face off against practitioners of various martial arts styles. These matches provided opportunities for Motobu to test his skills and prove the effectiveness of his own style. His victories over practitioners of judo, kendo, and other styles further cemented his reputation as a master martial artist.

  1. Motobu Choki’s Encounter with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

During his visit to Brazil in the 1930s, Motobu Choki had a memorable encounter with the renowned Gracie family, who were pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The story goes that Motobu, despite being in his 60s at the time, effortlessly defeated several Gracie family members in friendly sparring matches, leaving a lasting impression on the Brazilian martial arts community.

The Legacy of Motobu Choki

Motobu Choki’s contributions to the world of martial arts are immeasurable. His commitment to practicality, his fierce determination, and his unwavering dedication to his craft have left an indelible mark on the history of karate. Even after his passing in 1944, Motobu’s teachings continue to inspire and influence martial artists worldwide.

Early Experiences and Training

Motobu Choki’s journey in martial arts began at a young age, as he grew up observing and learning from his father, Motobu Choshin, who was highly skilled in Okinawan martial arts. Motobu Choki’s father was known for his expertise in the Shuri-te style, which laid the foundation for Motobu’s own training.

Motobu’s training was not limited to a single style. He studied various forms of martial arts, including Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, under different masters. This exposure to different styles allowed him to develop a well-rounded approach to combat and influenced the creation of his own unique style, Motobu-ryu.

Travel and Exploration

Motobu Choki’s thirst for knowledge and experience led him to travel extensively throughout Japan and other countries, where he engaged in challenging matches and exchanged techniques with other martial artists. These encounters not only broadened his understanding of different fighting styles but also helped him refine his own techniques.

During his travels, Motobu faced opponents from different disciplines, such as judo, kendo, and Western boxing. These encounters provided him with valuable insights and opportunities to test the effectiveness of his techniques. Motobu’s victories in these challenge matches further solidified his reputation as a skilled and formidable martial artist.

Unique Training Methods

Motobu Choki’s training methods were characterized by their practicality and focus on real-life combat situations. He believed in the importance of training in realistic scenarios, emphasizing the development of speed, power, and adaptability.

Motobu’s training sessions often involved practicing techniques against multiple opponents or in confined spaces. This approach allowed him to cultivate the ability to react quickly and effectively in unpredictable situations. It also emphasized the importance of proper timing and distance management, skills that would prove crucial in actual combat.

Noteworthy Stories and Anecdotes

Beyond Motobu Choki’s impressive victories and encounters with other martial artists, there are numerous stories and anecdotes that highlight his skill, dedication, and unique character. Some of these tales provide glimpses into his personality and the challenges he faced as a martial artist. Here are a few notable examples:

  1. Motobu Choki and the Taxi Driver

One story recounts an incident where Motobu, in his later years, got into a taxi and engaged in a friendly conversation with the driver. The driver, unaware of Motobu’s martial arts background, boasted about his own fighting skills. Motobu, always humble and unassuming, listened attentively but eventually revealed his identity. Impressed, the driver apologized and acknowledged Motobu’s expertise.

  1. Motobu Choki’s Dedication to Training

Motobu Choki’s commitment to training was unwavering. It is said that he would wake up early in the morning and train until late at night, dedicating countless hours to perfecting his techniques. This relentless pursuit of mastery exemplifies Motobu’s determination and passion for martial arts.

Motobu Choki’s Contributions and Legacy

Motobu Choki’s impact on the world of martial arts extends beyond his personal accomplishments. His teachings and writings have influenced subsequent generations of practitioners, ensuring the preservation and evolution of his style, Motobu-ryu.

Motobu’s emphasis on practicality and adaptability resonates with many martial artists today. His unique approach to training, his remarkable victories, and his dedication to the art continue to inspire and shape the way karate is practiced and understood.

In conclusion, Motobu Choki’s life and legacy are filled with captivating stories and anecdotes that shed light on his extraordinary journey as a martial artist. From his early training and extensive travels to his victories in challenge matches and his dedication to continuous improvement, Motobu’s contributions to the world of karate are legendary. His Motobu-ryu style stands as a testament to his innovative spirit and enduring influence. By exploring the stories and anecdotes surrounding Motobu Choki, we gain a deeper appreciation for the impact he has had on martial arts and the legacy he leaves behind.


What are some noteworthy stories or anecdotes about Motobu?

Motobu Choki, a prominent figure in Okinawan martial arts during the late 19th and early 20th century, has left behind several noteworthy stories and anecdotes. One of the most famous stories recounts a challenge match between Motobu and a Judo practitioner in mainland Japan. Despite the significant size difference between the two, Motobu effortlessly defeated his opponent using his unorthodox, street-fighting style. This incident demonstrated Motobu’s exceptional skill and effectiveness in real combat situations.

Another fascinating anecdote involves Motobu’s encounter with a Western boxing champion. Seeing the immense popularity of Western boxing at the time, Motobu was curious to test his skills against a prominent boxer. In this encounter, Motobu faced off against a famous American boxer named Charles “Cyclone” Hollis. Despite the significant height, weight, and reach advantage of Hollis, Motobu expertly utilized his Okinawan karate techniques to neutralize his opponent’s attacks, eventually knocking him down. This event showcased Motobu’s adaptability and effectiveness in cross-cultural martial arts encounters.

There is also a famous story about Motobu challenging a sumo wrestler to a match. Motobu, again being significantly smaller in size, managed to outmaneuver and defeat the sumo wrestler by dodging his attacks and skillfully exploiting his weaknesses. This story exemplifies Motobu’s agility, speed, and strategic thinking, which were essential elements in his martial arts philosophy.

These stories and anecdotes not only highlight Motobu’s extraordinary martial arts abilities but also depict his willingness to engage in challenging encounters against practitioners of various martial arts styles, thereby contributing to his reputation as a legendary figure in Okinawan martial arts.

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