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Dave. H
Dave. H's picture
"Shotokan's Secret - expanded edition" By Bruce D Clayton PHD

This is a really great book about the history and development of linear Karate, and the individuals involved.  It does focus primarily on Shotokan, but is a great resource to anyone interested in the history of Karate, and shows how closely the many modern styles of Karate are related.

This book shows how styles are really just an individuals interpretation and a modern concept.  It uses a scientific approach to look at the evidence, and in the context of the time in which we are looking at.  Many history books and texts look at the subject matter through modern eyes, but this book does not.  It takes into account the political climate, beliefs of the time, and the real life dangers of those involved. 

It shatters many myths, and shows why Karate was developed.  Combative efficiency in a turbulent and dangerous time.  That is not to say that sport and 'do' aspects of the martial arts are of no use, but puts them into the realm of modern developments.

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Second this.

I read the book earlier this year, really enjoyed it and gave me a greater understanding and knowledge of my karate history (and being from a Shotokan class, I really got my moneys worth on the history section)

Must read for anyone studying our art in its entirety.

shoshinkanuk's picture

I found the book full of mostly things I felt were made up or really stretching reality - it was presented and produced well but purley a work of fiction IMO.

A. Picard
A. Picard's picture

I have also read this book with some interest, unless we have a time machine we will never know, surely there must be an element of truth considering that Matsumura and Itosu were high ranking members of the Shuri castle's security personel, i.e they must of had a plan of defending the royalty. On the other hand I much prefer the theory that Karate was developed to defend the average bloke on the street from a mindless thug. I will be asking for Iain's take on it, on the up and coming full instructors weekend.


shoshinkanuk's picture

Im sure they did have a plan and it likley didn't involve karate kata, and almost certainly involved appropiate weapons and team efforts.

The book was interesting for sure, and as I said well done and presented but it mostly is fiction IMO, Shotokan was a modern system developed by the JKA Seniors based on Funakoshi teachings in Japan and had little to do with Matsumura or indeed Itosu. It's history is fairly clear and well documented.

Now as a side note, thats not to say we can't find certain techniques or strategy in kata that may have fitted - well almost anything, but that doesn't make it historically correct, and of course it's difficult to prove any of this - but im not producing a book that clearly suggests what I think is 'right'. (or indeed what the Ryu I belong to think has passed on - which is about as close to Matsumuras teachings as is possible!).