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Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters

Separating myth from fact.

My wife knows that from my point of view, a book on any subject, is one of the best gifts you can give to someone. She also knows that a book on karate always tops my list.

This time the book she chose to buy me was entitled, "Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters". It was written by a great karateka in his own right, Shoshin Nagamine sensei, 10th Dan, and Founder of Matsubayashi Ryu Karate-Do. The book is an English translation of his original work by first published in 2000 by Tuttle Publishing.

The book details the results of the personal research done by Sensei Nagamine over the years to uncover as accurately as possible facts about the great Okinawan Masters of the past. A difficult task in and of its self in a country where written records were seldom kept, privately held, or destroyed in the American assault on Okinawa in World War II.

While I found the book full of interesting historical facts about Masters I had heard of and others I was unfamiliar with, what interested me the most as a Shotokan karate-ka were the chapters on Sensei Itosu Anko and Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. In particular I liked the fact that the he speaks of Sensei Funakoshi in the first person, having as he says spent time with him on many occasions.

Regardless of your particular style of karate the detailed comments about each Master and the extent to which Sensei Nagamine went to obtain some of the information, definitely make this a book worth reading.

I enjoyed it. In fact, I am on my second reading. It is amazing what you can miss the first time you read a book. This time my journey through the eyes, heart and mind, of Sensei Nagamine is a lot slower and even more enjoyable than the first time.

Experienced instructors and students already familiar with some aspects of karate's history and the men who contributed to its development will probably get the most out of this book Nevertheless, even for a novice this is a great way to learn about where the art of karate we all enjoy today originated from.

Remember: “Knowledge is all around you. Look for it, select what you need and then make the most of it”.