What Did He Just Say?! (Karate Quotes)

During my years on the world wide web, I have collected a fair amount of stuff related to the Martial Arts.

The gigabytes on my hard drive dedicated to Karate and Kobudo history, pictures, videos, quotes, essays, and notes are quite scary, actually.

So for this post, I thought it would be nice to share some (unusual) quotes I have found, from various masters on the subject. I will not comment too much, because I think quotes speak for themselves.


Here we go:

“Since these kata [referring to the 3 Tekki/Naihanchi] are rather monotonous, turn the head briskly and strongly.”

– Nakayama Masatoshi, “Best Karate” vol. 5

My comment:

Imagine a kata so boring (monotonous) that you think students must turn
their heads “briskly and strongly” to keep from falling asleep!

“If one slaps their hands together quickly, it could compel the opponent to throw an uncoordinated and unbalanced kick.”

– Nakayama Masatoshi, “Best Karate”-series (Unsu, Sochin & Nijushiho)

My comment:

Next time you are fighting someone, and you sense that the opponent is going to kick you, please “slap your hands together quickly”, and e-mail me if the opponent missed his attack.

“Seisan plays a special role in the history of Karate. It emphasizes the often
forgotten and underestimated role of women in karate. The self-defence
techniques for mothers who carry their babies/children on their back, show that
women at least practiced, if not even developed some of the kata. That’s why
Seisan is known as a kata for women.”

– Jamal Mearsra “Karate no Reishiki” (History of Karate).

My comment:

Do I really need to comment?

“I think maybe he [Funakoshi] changed his ideas for the judo person because judo is always pushing and throwing and I think maybe he changed the original karate a little bit for the judoka, usually it is the Neko Ashi Dachi stance but he changed it to Kokutsu Dachi, it’s good for the judo push. So he must have changed the kata to help the judo man adapt.”

– “Traditional Karate”, interview with Koei Nohara.

My comment:

Ooh, so that’s why…

About Naihanchin-kata: “Something ‘deep’ about it… has three katas, Shodan, Nidan & Sandan but the last two are ALMOST USELESS [emphasis added]

– Otsuka Hironori, “Wado Ryu Karate”, 1977 (p. 72)

My comment:

I think we just got the explanation for the lack of Naihanchin Nidan and Sandan in Wado?

About the foot-sweep in Naihanchin: “This movement is NOT a foot sweep […] varation of stance […] objective is to see if there is too much strenght being placed in the leg itself.”

– Otsuka Hironori, “Wado Ryu Karate”, 1977 (p. 253)

My comment:

We have been fooled! It’s not a sweep! Not even a kick, or a block with the shin.

It’s a balance test!


Okay, that’s it for today!

More quotes to come.


  • foursquaregoof
    i think i will go ahead and and clap my hands in kumite. just outta sheer curiosity hahah
    • Daniel Handler
      Me too lol
    • Phil Lewis
      I trained for years with a guy, never knowing he had false teeth. Sparring with him one day, he pushed his teeth forward so they popped past his lips. My eyes opened wide, my hands dropped in shock, and he scored a clean gyaku-zuki. Only worked once though. Well, maybe twice.
  • Diego Romero
    yay, i just saw this! (thank you, random post function) on the second quote, i think what nakayama was referring to was throwing off the opponent's countering abilities (especially considering how widespread the deai gyaku zuki is in shotokan). if the opponent basically waits for you to attack, so he can put his fist in the way to make you crash into his punch, he is not likely to extend his blow all the way to where you are now, and he'll be waiting for a sudden movement, which you can simulate by clapping really hard (after which a return to kamaete isn't exactly hard, and neither is using the clap as the start motion of an uraken). so it's basically a provocation so that you can foil a counter fighter. ohtsuka's quotes are very interesting, and the naihanchi/tekki sweep quote in particular makes a lot of sense, considering naihanchi's use as a fundamentals developing form in shorin styles (similar to how kung fu forms are both combat , calisthenics and fundamentals training)
  • Dan
    The hand slap mimics the snap of a gi. An opponent who often fights against someone in a gi is conditioned to associate that sound with an attack coming at him.
    • Give me a break! :)
  • Jack Brown
    Couldn't agree with you more.
  • herrle 58
    Funny to learn that Jamal Measara (so he spells his name in Germany) wrote a book... and i dont wonder about his quote...just how i met him in the early eighties. Nothings changed. By the way, i like your work, although i do not always fully agree. Anyway, we should never stop learning or pretend we have learned enough.
  • Jaron Legel
    About the foot sweep in Naihanchi no Wado. It is also not a balance test, well maybe...depends on the level of the student. It is more a part of an exercise to check your center.
    • Daniel Handler
      Soooo what you're saying is a balance test...? :)

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