Our growing collection of recommended books on the subjects of Shotokan, karate, and martial arts in general. These are presented in no specific order, and represent a wide range of writing styles, perspectives and approaches to martial arts as a sport, as an art, and as a way of life.

Most of these books can be purchased through The Empty Hand -- ask us about it next time you're at the dojo, or contact us if you just can't wait!

Welcome to Karate:

9 Kyu

by Bruce Costa

ISBN: Pending
"Sensei Costa has cleverly managed to fill the gap for concise, thoughtful and meaningful reading material for those embarking upon their journey into traditional karate. His work introduces the concepts, principles and subtle nuances of karate as it is practiced in dojo across the globe. It is a gem of a book that I am thrilled to recommend to anyone interested in practicing karate. Well done indeed!"
-David Jones

Three Budo Masters:

Kano, Funakoshi, Ueshiba

by John Stevens

ISBN: 4-7700-1852-5

"The founders of judo, karate and aikido: the story of their lives, their tribulations, and their achievements. With a comparison of the men, the martial art systems they espoused, and the spirit informing their work..."

Karate-dō Nyūmon

by Gichin Funakoshi

ISBN: 0-87011-819-6

"Karate-dō Nyūmon literally means a passage through the gates of the Karate way—in other words, an introduction to the world of Karate. Karate-dō Nyūmon is the result of Master Funakoshi's wish to clarify Karate thought and practice for those who know nothing about it. It comprises unpublished writings from the years before his death in 1957, together with simplified kata—sequences of movements—synthesized by Funakoshi from the traditional Okinawa Karate-dō kata, for beginners.

Master Funakoshi begins by exploding some of the myths of Karate:

'Karate-dō is a noble martial art, and the reader can rest assured that those who take pride in breaking boards or smashing tiles, or who boast of being able to perform outlandish feats like stripping flesh or plucking out ribs, really know nothing about karate. They are playing around in the leaves and branches of a great tree, without the slightest concept of the trunk.'

In his description of what Karate is, the Master describes the history of Karate — its origins in the ancient methods of unarmed combat in China, and its growth as a fighting method in Okinawa, a country where arms were banned in a succession of decrees from the Japanese mainland. In order to prevent it being subjected to control, or more importantly, to prevent the Japanese overlords from knowing and using the techniques, the practice of Karate was kept a secret. To preserve this secrecy, the habit persisted until very recent times of keeping no records. Master Funakoshi, however, recognized in this book and others the need to formulate the kata precisely, so as to establish a standard of true Okinawan Karate.

The kata in this book are not traditional kata, but they serve to establish the correct habits of stance, thought and action, and to facilitate the eventual mastery of the true Karate-dō kata. All these special kata are clearly explained and illustrated by photos.

Lastly, Master Funakoshi recalls stories of men who were living legends when he was a youth in Okinawa, men whose reputations overcame even the secrecy that clung to Karate until the middle of this century."

Martial Arts for Kids

by Richard Devens & Norman Sandler

ISBN: 0-8348-0401-8

"How will my child benefit from studying martial arts? Which martial art is best? For boys? For girls? Can he or she get hurt? How do I choose a good school? How do I find a competent instructor? Martial Arts for Kids answers these and other crucial questions for parents of children interested in studying martial arts."

Zen in the Martial Arts

by Joe Hyams

ISBN: 0-87477-101-3

"Several hundred books have been written about performing the Oriental martial arts, but no more than a handful address the significance of Zen in the martial arts. This is an unfortunate oversight since the martial arts in their finest form are much more than a physical contest between two opponents — a means of imposing one's will or inflicting damage upon another. Rather, for the true master, karate, kung-fu, aikido, wing-chun, and all the other martial arts are essentially avenues through which they can achieve spiritual serenity, mental tranquility, and the deepest self-confidence."

Best Karate (series)

by Masatoshi Nakayama

ISBN: Multiple

"Volumes one through eleven contain practical, easy-to-follow explanations of basic techniques, kata and kumite by one of Japan's most famous figures in international karate. Each volume has hundreds of photographs and diagrams plus a glossary-index."

The Empty Hand:

A Karate Wordbook

by Rui Umezawa

ISBN: 0-8348-0418-2

"The Empty Hand was written to help Western students understand the precise and complete meaning of the many Japanese terms used by their sensei (master) in the dojo (practice hall) and grasp the full implications and deeper meaning of their martial art. Each of the twenty-eight main entries is an in-depth mini-essay on one karate term, explaining not only its meaning but the Sino-Japanese characters used to write it. The essays also provide rich background information on the history and culture of karate, and the attitude one should cultivate toward martial arts practice. Fully illustrated with calligraphy for each term and with original woodcuts."

Dynamic Karate

by Masatoshi Nakayama

ISBN: 0-87011-788-2

"Most books on karate usually do not provide complete, detailed instructions and illustrations—the fundamentals plus the fine points—that readers hope for. This book fills the gaps left by others. The late Master Masatoshi Nakayama, chief instructor of the Japan Karate Association, left this book as a testament. It reveals his great experience as a karate competitor and teacher, describing and illustrating in detail all the correct movements involved in the particular block, punch, or kick you want to perfect, as well as instructions on combining blocking techniques with decisive counterattacks. Also included is a glossary of all Japanese karate terms and a guide to their pronunciation. Because of the lightning speed of karate techniques, normal camera work often fails to record the action accurately. For this reason, many of the photo sequences found in Dynamic Karate were taken using a stroboscope with a flash time of 1/10,000 of a second, enabling you to follow each movement as it is actually performed."

Practical Karate: (series)

by Masatoshi Nakayama & Donn F. Draeger

ISBN: Multiple

"An outstanding primer on self defense. Written by the chief instructor of the JKA in collaboration with the pioneer Westerner in the practice of Japanese martial arts and an instructor in the International Division of the Kodokan in Tokyo."

Martial Arts

by Peter Lewis

ISBN: 0-790-98565-9

"An aura of mystery still surrounds the esoteric techniques of the Eastern martial arts. Their secrets have only been available to exponents in the West for a few decades but today huge numbers of men and women practice these techniques as a means of self-defense or as a method of keeping fit.

Kung Fu is the oldest of the many martial arts, originating in China in the 13th century. It can be divided into 'soft' or internal types like tai chi chuan, which stress philosophical ideas, and 'hard' or external types which emphasize pure fighting ability. Originally there were five types of kung fu; now there are in the region of 15,000 distinct styles. Popularized by the highly successful movies of Bruce Lee, kung fu provides an effective, and sometimes deadly, form of self-defense for countless adherents.

Karate, the way of the empty hand, was developed by the Okinawans to resist the Japanese invaders of the last century. A mixture of kung fu and indigenous fighting methods, karate exponents perform incredible feats of strength and endurance.

Jujitsu is the deadliest of the martial arts. It concentrates on bringing quick and quiet death. It is the father of judo and aikido, which emphasize self-defense rather than attack. Judo is the only martial art to have achieved the status of an Olympic Sport, which perhaps accounts for its great popularity.

Martial Arts is a history of all the Oriental martial arts. It clearly delineates both unarmed and armed styles and traces their development from ancient times to modern fighting methods and sports. Lavishly illustrated with over 250 photographs and drawings, Martial Arts will be of interest to newcomers to the sport and old hands alike."

Karate-do Kyohan:

The Master Text

by Gichin Funakoshi

ISBN: 0-87011-190-6
"Nineteen kata ('forms') of karate-the art of self-defense without weapons-are presented here in complete detail. They are the ones selected by the great master and teacher, Gichin Funakoshi, to give comprehensive training in Karate-do, the way of karate.

Fully illustrated demonstrations by the translator cover not only every technique of the kata but also the fundamentals and applications: how to make a fist; the correct form of the open hand; preliminary training in blocking, striking and kicking; the seven stances; and sparring.
The author presents, besides kata that he himself originated, beginning and advanced kata from both the Shorei school and the Shorin school, the former remarkable for their forcefulness and development of strength, the latter characterized by their gracefulness and lightning swiftness."

Dynamic Stretching & Kicking

by Bill "Superfoot" Wallace

ISBN: 0-86568-018-3

"'Dynamic Stretching and Kicking' is structured into two complete sections. The first section deals with stretching and agility as the key element for developing skill, strength and health. The second section deals exclusively with my kicking technique and strategy of sparring. Each of my three most famous kicks are analyzed in great detail and with their proper application. Stretching and kicking being the two most important aspects of my repertoire of skills, I sincerely hope that they will make a significant contribution to your own training and knowledge in the martial arts.

As odd as it may sound, please do not read this book. Rather, study it and live with it. I will have accomplished my purpose in writing this book, if it becomes for you a source of inspiration as well as a source of knowledge and skill.

Good luck in your training!"

A Book of Five Rings:

The Classic Guide to Strategy

by Miyamoto Musashi

ISBN: 0-517-41528-3

"The Japanese entrepreneur, is not nurtured at an Asian equivalent of our Harvard Business School. Instead, he studies, lives and works according to an almost-mythic tome written in 1645 by the great Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was Japan's most renowned warrior. By age 30 he had fought and won over 60 duels by killing his opponents. The invincible Musashi eventually retired to a cave to record for future generations the lessons of his intense life. There he completed, a few weeks before his own death, the classic A Book of Five Rings. He wrote it not only as a thesis on battle strategy, but 'for any situation where plans and tactics are used.' Not surprisingly, business executives of 20th Century Japan revere Musashi's philosophy as a guide for their daily decisions. And they therefore view the running of a business like a military operation."

The Young Martial Artist

by David Mitchell

ISBN: 0-87951-422-1

"Increasing numbers of children ages twelve and under are now joining martial arts classes to learn not only the techniques of judo but karate, taekwondo, aikido, kung fu and many other martial arts disciplines as well. This fully illustrated sourcebook for the teachers and parents of young martial artists provides the answers to such questions as what to look for in a safe training facility, how to decide which of the many disciplines is right for each child, how to keep motivation levels high and how to keep the young martial artist practicing. This comprehensive manual also includes instructions for games and excersises, guaranteed to keep the young martial artist interested and motivated throughout his or her martial arts career."


My Way of Life

by Gichin Funakoshi

ISBN: 0-87011-463-8

"Linking the time when karate was a strictly Okinawan art of self-defense shrouded in the deepest secrecy and the present day, when it has become a martial art practiced throughout the world, is Gichin Funakoshi, the 'Father of Karate-do.'

Out of modesty, he was reluctant to write this autobiography and did not do so until he was nearly ninety years of age. Trained in the Confucian classics, he was a schoolteacher early in life, but after decades of study under the foremost masters, he gave up his livelihood to devote the rest of his life to the propagation of the Way of Karate. Under his guidance, techniques and nomenclature were refined and modernized, the spiritual essence was brought to the fore, and karate evolved into a true martial art.

Various forms of empty-hand techniques have been practiced in Okinawa for centuries, but due to the lack of historical records, fancy often masquerades as fact. In telling of his own famous teachers-and not only of their mastery of technique but of the way they acted in critical situations-the author reveals what true karate is. The stories he tells about himself are no less instructive: his determination to continue the art, after having started it to improve his health; his perseverance in the face of difficulties, even of poverty; his strict observance of the way of life of the samurai; and the spirit of self-reliance that he carried into an old age kept healthy by his practice of Karate-do."

The Textbook of Modern Karate

by Teruyuki Okazaki & Milorad V. Stricevic, M.D.

ISBN: 4-7700-2141-0

"The ideal way to train in karate is scientifically.

What is the proper time for the performance of a single kata? What are the roles of warm-up and warm-down periods in karate training?
What are the important factors in designing a comprehensive training program?
How should the competitor schedule his training?
Here for the first time are answers and guidelines based on extensive investigations of the physiological aspects of this ancient art of self-defense."

Perfection of Character

Guiding Principles for the Martial Arts and Everyday Life

by Teruyuki Okazaki

ISBN: 0-9785763-2-2

"In this enlightening and inspiring book, Master Teruyuki Okazaki, one of the greatest karate masters of our time, shares his wisdom gained from more than 60 years of practicing and teaching Shotokan Karate throughout the world. This is his commentary on the Dojo Kun and Niju Kun, the guiding principles of karate, as given by his teacher, Master Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate.

Anyone who wishes to become a better martial artist and a better person will treasure Perfection of Character, and integrate its precepts into his or her life."

Karate Jutsu:

The Original Teachings of Master Funakoshi

by Gichin Funakoshi

ISBN: 4-7700-2681-1

"Gichin Funakoshi is considered the father of modern karate. In the 1920s, he wrote the first of several karate texts, culminating his career with the publication of Karate-dō Kyōhan, which remains among the most important and influential works on karate today.

The Kyōhan, however, evolved from Karate Jutsu, a much earlier work. In the formative writings of the Jutsu, Funakoshi set out the philosophy and forms that he would practice and refine for the rest of his life.

As the Kyōhan's earliest version, Karate Jutsu has attained legendary status. Legions of enthusiastic martial arts practitioners have sought out the original Japanese version, and pirated English-lanuage editions have circulated for years. This is the first official English publication of Karate Jutsu. Translator John Teramoto has gone to great lengths to accurately convey the essence of Funakoshi's original manuscript, and has contributed an informative introduction and revealing footnotes that clearly note where the forms in Jutsu vary from those of the Kyōhan. Karate Jutsu also includes rare historical photographs of Funakoshi himself demonstrating the kata, his early writings in their original form, and a foreword by Tsutomu Ohshima, the founder and chief instructor of the Shotokan Karate of America."

Spirit of the Empty Hand

by Stan Schmidt

ISBN: 0-911921-02-8

"I intend to communicate some of the reality of the art of karate to you so that it lives in both of us. Instead of adopting a formal, objective approach in which dry, technical information is presented to you in a systematic fashion, I have decided to use a more interesting and real method.

The spirit of my message is that of challenge. I require that you participate and interact with me. I need you to be an active, responsive communicator who allows me to penetrate your inner world. I am not asking you to necessarily accept my viewpoints, but I require that you actively consider and try to live them, temporarily, at least.

My challenge, therefore, is that you become a student (that is, for the early chapters) and that you remove your everyday clothing and dress yourself in karate-gi* and shiro-obi* and then imagine yourself stepping into the dojo as a student, your purpose being that you may gain the deepest understanding of karate-do.

According to M. Nakayama, former Chief Master of the Japan Karate Associatiohn, 'the greatest masters never cease to be students.' This approach is pertinent to the Japanese way of life encompassed in the concept of shu-ha-ri. Shu represents the stage when one learns from tradition—this is an historical approach—but before one becomes too bound by tradition, one applies ha. Ha is to break the chains of tradition, and if the chains are broken, one moves into the state of ri, which is a state of transcendence, the freedom of the self to create and express itself. Shoji describe shu-ha-ri as a freedom from all restraints from the standardized movements.

Shu-ha-ri is an ongoing process of repetition and renewal. It has often been said that the Japanese have a highly formal and traditional culture. This would appear to be so, but there is a paradoxical consideration of which most Westerners are not aware—that it is traditional for the Japanese to break tradition. The wheel remains a circle, but as it turns, it advances. This is shu-ha-ri.

It is in this spirit that I ask you to free yourself of past traditions, ideas or biases in order to participate in a social institution, karate, which Nishiyama and Brown define as involving direct contact between two or more human beings.

This story is not a personal autobiography, nor does it follow in a strictly chronological order. Despite this, the incidents in this book are based upon my own experiences as well as those of my students and colleagues. The names of the masters are real. Some of the students' names have been changed but are based on real karateka who I have either taught or trained with at dojos all around the world. (You may well have come across one or more of them, or you might actually be one of the). The value of this story lies in the spirit it evokes within you. If it fails to move you, throw it away immediately!

Yoi. Get ready. You are about to take the first step into a dynamic arena of action where you will experience ten years of karate. It is now you who are about to place your foot on the bottom rung of the stairway leading up to the Grove Karate Centre.

Go for it, if you will..."


The Folk Dances of Shotokan

by Rob Redmond

US Library of Congress Registration Number:

"This is the information, history, and rumor that should have been included in every other book about kata. Rather than a catalog of pictures of people doing the movements from the kata, this work contains descriptions, translations, and advice. Round out your understanding of Shotokan Karate kata by reading Redmond's fascinating and original work - both humorous and filled with good advice."

Complete Shotokan Karate:

The Samurai Legacy and Modern practice

(also known as "Complete shotokan Karate: History, Philosophy and Practice")

by Robin L. Rielly

ISBN: 0-8048-2108-9

"Complete Shotokan Karate is actually two books in one: a thorough history of Japanese karate in Asia and the United States, and an instructional manual for students of the Shotokan method.

Part One outlines the history of karate from its probable origins in India (or perhaps Greece), and its transmission from China through Okinawa to Japan. Relevant aspects of Japanese history and culture, such as the samurai ethos and Zen, are emphasized.

Part Two, profusely illustrated with over 600 clear black-and-white photographs and 20 line drawings, outlines instruction for kumite (sparring drills). Included are two-person drills such as the double-line drill and the circle drill, which give practice in facing multiple opponents. Descriptions of many of these drills are not found in other English-language books. In addition, nine kata (forms) are presented, two of which, Sochin and Nijushiho, are rarely seen in print in English."

The two parts of this exhaustive book—the first historical and philosophical, the second practical—combine to form one of the most comprehensive presentations of Shotokan karate available in English. Complete Shotokan Karate is an essential resource for all those interested in Japanese karate."