As with any other study the serious student will want to expand their knowledge of the subject and this can be done by reading the vast array of books which are out there. However, as with most things the reader will need to sort out the "Wheat from the Chaff". So occasionally I get asked what books would I recommend.
Below I have given a small list of the reading material that I have covered. They are by very good authors and cover the History and philosophies the arts of Karate-Do and Kobudo.
- Karate-do: My Way of Life, by Gichin Funakoshi
Pub: Kodansha America, ISBN-10: 0870114638
This is Sensei Funakoshi's autobiography. It tells his story from his early life with his own teachers to the time of evolving the art. It links the time when Te was shrouded in secrecy to the present day where it is now studied through out the world. He recalls his own teachers and of his efforts to define and spread knowledge about karate without compromising its spirit.
- Budo Masters: Paths to a Far Mountain, by Michael Clarke
Pub: PAUL H CROMPTON LTD; illustrated edition edition (12 Aug 2010), ISBN-10: 187425026X
This title features questions and answers on martial arts from the masters themselves: How did these men train? Has the training changed over the years? Are Western people able to endure this kind of training? The book should provide insights to students and teachers alike.
- The Karate Dojo: Traditions and Tales of a Martial Art, by Peter Urban
Pub: Tuttle, ISBN: 0-8048-1703-0
This book examines the aspects of self-defense, sport and philosophy from the tales, legends and traditions of the art. It is a small and fun book to read.
- Zen Kobudo: Mysteries of Okinawa Weaponry and Te, by Mark Bishop,
Pub: Tuttle, ISBN-10: 0804820279
Kobudo, the famous armed Okinawan fighting art that utilizes common farming implements in combat, and Te, the ancient Okinawan art of armed and unarmed combat, are two of the world's most widely practiced yet least-understood martial arts. This book studies the individual Kobudo and Te systems as they are practiced in Okinawa today and discusses their various histories and the lives of the masters who have most influenced them. Spiritualism in the Okinawan arts is also covered in detail, as the author masterfully describes the mix of Zen and native beliefs that are vital to these arts, yet a component that has been all but ignored by previous researchers. In addition, this is the first work to discuss anthropological theories on Okinawa and the development of fighting arts there from the Stone Age. This complete and wide-ranging study of Okinawan weaponry, history, and training is the ultimate guide to these important fighting arts.
- Okinawan Karate: Teachers' Styles and Secret Techniques, by Mark Bishop,
Pub: A & C Black Publishers Ltd, ISBN-10: 0713656662S
Okinawan karate is the historical grandparent of karate styles practiced throughout the world today. This book looks at the development of each Okinawan style and describes the techniques which comprise the various methods of self defense. These are divided into the "Shorin" group, the kobudo and ti styles, and styles based on Chinese boxing systems. Black and white photographs and lineage charts highlight famous families and teachers who have played key roles in promulgating karate for several hundred years. Also included are breathing and relaxation exercises, and glossaries of katas and of Japanese, Okinawan and Chinese words used in the text. Mark Bishop holds a 6th Dan in Okaniwan te, a 4th Dan in Shorin-ryu karate and kobudo, a 3rd Dan in Goju-ryu, and black belt gradings in judo and aikido.
This is a revised edition which includes historical tables and vital striking point charts, as well as information on the past and 20th century karate, kobudo and ti (or te) scene in Okinawa. The author presents important elements of the fighting arts as a whole, along with health-orientated training and the secrets of developing intrinsic energy (ki) circulation. From their roots in China, the historical development of each karate and kobudo system can be traced, via the teachers who formulated them, into the many fragmented styles practiced today throughout the world, from Shotokan to Goju-ryu -Okinawa's greatest cultural export.
Shotokan's Secret: The Hidden Truths Behind Karate's Fighting Origins: The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins, by Bruce Clayton
Pub: Black Belt Communications (1 April 2005)
This is the first book to dissect the lore and reveal the origins and purpose of the art of shotokan. It describes how karate was invented by the world's only unarmed bodyguards to protect the world's only unarmed king against Americans. In 1853, before the American Civil War, the king of Okinawa was caught in a confrontation between the shogun's implacable samurai and an invading force of U.S. Marines. Trapped between katana and bayonets, the king's unarmed guards faced impossible odds and narrowly avoided a costly bloodbath.
Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Vol 1, by Patrick McCarthy
Pub: Tuttle Publishing (22 Sep 1999)
Featuring original writings by the founders of some of the world's most popular karate styles, this volume includes untranslated texts by Miyagi Chojun, Mabina Kenwa, Motobu Choki – each of them founders of their own schools of karate.
Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Vol 2, by Patrick McCarthy
Pub: Tuttle Publishing (May 1999)
Featuring original writings by the founders of some of the world's most popular karate styles, this volume includes McCarthy's "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Mabuni Kenwa Story", the "Dai Nippon Butokukai" and "Karatedo: Development, Essence, Aims".
The Bible of Karate: The Bubishi, by Patrick McCarthy
Pub: Tuttle Publishing
Treasured for centuries by karate's masters, The Bubishi was a secret text passed from master to student in China and later in Okinawa. Dealing with philosophy, strategy and medicine as they relate to the martial arts, it has been studied and taught from by all of karate's legendary masters. This English translation includes numerous explanations and notes to ease comprehension. The author also includes research on Okinawan and Chinese history as well as the fighting and healing traditions that developed in those countries, making it useful for researchers and practitioners alike.
If you have enjoyed reading any of these books or have your own to recommend then please leave a reply as it will help us all to expand our knowledge of these fascinating subject of Karate and Kobudo.