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'The Weaponless Warriors' - Book Review

At the start of 2023, I began attending seminars with Sensei Simon Oliver and then attending as a guest in his dojo on Friday night. Sensei Oliver has a vast knowledge of karate, history, martial arts and a rather large book collection… 4000-odd was what he told me!

This was one of his recommended reads to me. Richard Kim Sensei, was an American karate-ka who studied under Arakaki Ankichi Sensei among many others.

This book gives the reader an insight to many notable Okinawan teachers of karate such as Gichin Funakoshi, Chojun Miyagi, Choki Motobu, Chotoku Kyan (watch this space for an article on him and a review of a book!), Yasutsune Itosu and many more. There are little snippets on various kata such as Sakugawa No Kon and Matsumura Passai (Bassai).

For those that like to understand the genealogy of karate, there are several genealogy trees; one on Shuri-te, one on Tomari No Karate and one on Naha-te. These trees show the background of some of the teachers mentioned above and who they subsequently passed their knowledge on to.

The book ends with a section on ‘Morality in Karate,’ it explains Funakoshi Sensei’s precept of ‘there is no first strike in karate’ and goes into detail on other events. The final 2 pages highlight the importance of kata training and contains my favourite quote from the book: “The kata in itself is a teacher forever.”

This is certainly an interesting and somewhat easy read at just over 100 pages. Richard Kim, gives great historical insight as well as a few lessons to the reader. For anyone with an interest in the history of karate but, is also not after something too heavy to read then this book is great for that!

The book is available on Amazon.


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