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The Bible of Karate: Bubishi Paperback – November 15, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle; First Edition edition (November 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804820155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804820158
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patrick McCarthy is one of the few foreigners to actually teach karate-do in Japan. Moreover, he is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the civil fighting traditions of Okinawa. He is also the first Caucasian to ever be awarded the coveted Kyoshi Seventh Dan Teacher's License from Kyoto's prestigious Dai Nippon Butokukai. He has been practicing karate-do for over thirty years, and has also studied Taijiquan, White Crane, Hung Gar, Monk Fist, and Five Ancestors Fist gongfu.

During the mid-seventies, while pursuing a successful competitive career, McCarthy met the "Harvard Professor of the Martial Arts", Master Richard Kim, a disciple of whose he subsequently became in 1977. A holder of a Butokukai Hanshi Ninth Dan Master's license, Kim Sensei emphasized the importance of studying karate's nonutilitarian elements. As a result of Master Kim's influence, McCarthy undertook a deep study of karate's history and philosophy, the research for which continues to this day.

His research has brought him not only to Japan, but also Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the People's Republic of China. With an extensive background in both the Okinawan and Chinese fighting arts, McCarthy was in a unique position to research the most profound and influential document in the history of karate-do, the Bubishi. Since that time, he has interviewed and trained with the world's top masters of gongfu and karate-do while unraveling the history of this document and the fighting systems associated with it.

After moving to Japan in 1985, he became Master Kim's personal representative in Japan and in 1987 established the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society (IRKRS) as an outgrowth of his research. IRKRS is a non-profit, nonpolitical group of researchers and practitioners of budo, dedicated, but not limited, to the analysis, preservation, and promotion of karate-do.
Mr. McCarthy is a frequent contributor to martial arts magazines throughout the world, author of The Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate, Beyond Physical Training, Kata: Karate's Paragon of Mystery, and translator of Miyagi Chojun's 1934 Outline of Karate-do, The Secrets of Wudang Boxing, Taira Shinken's 1964 Ryukyu Kobudo Taikan, The Matsumura and Itosu Precepts, and the 1936 Meeting of the Okinawan Masters.

Mr. McCarthy travels around the world lecturing on karate history and philosophy, kata applications, the Bubishi, and kobudo. He can be contacted for such seminars through the publisher.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
The best part of the book, the more you now, the more you'll get out of it.
R. R. Lehman
It goes further than most karate history texts, including a good set of references about where the author found some of his information.
Travis Cottreau
Overall, _The Bible of Karate Bubishi_ is a book I enjoyed reading and found to be very informative.
C. Good

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is quite interesting as an historical document. It is, by the author's own admission, incomplete and at times was uninterpretable. As a piece of martial arts history - it is a treasure. One can begin to see how a martial art migrated, was passed on and even how it influenced and influenced by, other styles. There are, of course, many unanswered questions. The Bubushi was undoubtedly of great value, but grammatical errors and uninterpretable, obsolete Chinese characters and time have made the true meanings of many of the parts, unknowable.
What I came away with was, judging by the scope of knowlege the Bubushi covers, the martial arts practitioner of the past was a well rounded individual in the truest sense. Science, medicine, anatomy and philosophy as well as the martial techniques were all a part of the makeup of the martial artist.
There are too many limitations to make the Bubishi a modern martial arts bible. Among others, there are really NO complete training guidelines, the medicine/treatments are incomplete, and the lethal striking points are unexplained (i.e. WHERE to strike may be explicitly documented, but HOW to strike and with what technique, and how hard is not addressed).
As a book (hopefully one of many) the student of martial arts would study to understand the roots of their art, I would say it is a good read. As an instructional tome I would be quite wary. The author points out the limitations of his reasearch. He is aware of the shortcomings of the final product and he cautions the reader appropriately. But he has given us a fascinating view of the past, cobbled together and distorted as it is.
So beware. This book is like being the last one in line at a game of telephone. We hear what has been passed on by the previous person, but do not really know if it is a complete and accurate interpretation of the original. This is not the fault of the author, it is just what is....
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Travis Cottreau on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book mainly for the first 40 pages or so. It is basically a history of the bubishi itself, but also gives an excellent overview of karate history in general, even though it is mostly previously known information.
It goes further than most karate history texts, including a good set of references about where the author found some of his information.
This, along with "Unante" by John Sells is the most read karate book in my library.
As for the actual Bubishi translation, I have it on good authority that it is an excellent translation from people who can read the original Japanese translation from which this is taken.
I personally didn't find the Bubishi sections on fighting and grappling particularly useful, but they do serve for good historical perspective.
Some very useful sections from the book include a glossary of terms with their kanji equivalents, something that I've found very useful for translating lists of people's names, names of kata etc...
The quality of the books is excellent, with very crisp, sharp photos liberally distributed through the text and an excellent index.
I do feel that this should probably rank high on most people's list of books to buy, especially if you are starting out and are interested in karate history.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "jvaldezcg5" on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Bible of Karate: Bubishi translated by Patrick McCarthy is an indispensable volume for the avid Karate-ka. A novice to Karate-do might do well to put off getting this volume until a more stable grounding in the art in attained. Otherwise, I say get it.
It contains no detailed explanation of technique but the section on the history and philosophy alone would make buying this book more than worth it's price. Those practicing Goju-ryu, Isshin-ryu, or Kyokushinkai varieties of Karate-do will find the origins of Kata, such as Sanchin and Seisan, given here most interesting. If technique is what you're looking for then get The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do by Shoshin Nagamine, ISBN 0-8048-2110-0, along with this book and you won't go wrong.
The Bible of Karate: Bubishi contains the descriptions of Chinese medicine, vital point striking, and strategy that informed the techniques of the Okinawan Masters. In and of themselves these explanations are inadequate introductions to these subjects. But that together as a book, that it became a volume treasured by the Okinawan Masters is of immense importance in that it give us helpful clues to the subjects these Karate-ka concerned themselves with and which they felt to be of vital importance to the advancement of their technique.
If what you are interested in is more specifically the history of Okinawan Karate-do and Kobudo get this book along with Patrick McCarthy's two volume Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Koryu Uchinadi; ISBN 0-8048-2093-7 volume one, ISBN 0-8048-3147-5 volume two.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Good on November 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_The Bible of Karate Bubishi_ is a pleasant book to read. Patrick McCarthy is not the author, but the translator and commentator of a book whose original author & date of origin are unknown.

"Bubishi" is the name of a document that was read, copied and passed from master to student in the fighting traditions of Okinawa since the mid-1800s. The Chinese ideograms that make up its title can be interpreted as "a manual of military preparation". I cannot do better than Mr. McCarthy's description of Bubishi on page 27 of the book, so I will quote that here:

" Okinawa's Bubishi is an anthology of Chinese gongfu, its history, philosophy, and application. Focusing on the White Crane style from Yongchuan village, Fujian Province, this compilation also addresses Shaolin Monk Fist gongfu and reveals its relationship to Okinawa's civil fighting legacy of karate-do."

" The contents of this anthology's thirty-two articles include White Crane gongfu history, moral philosophy, advice on etiquette, comparisons of styles, defensive applications, herbal medicines, training mechanics, and Monk Fist Boxing."

McCarthy's translation is broken up into four major sections:

- History and Philosophy

- Chinese Medicine and Herbal Pharmacology

- The Vital Points

- Fighting Techniques

Part One: History and Philosophy has translations and commentary from the six chapters of Bubishi that dealt with history, philosophy, & etiquette for the martial artist. It also includes McCarthy's notes on possible origins of the Bubishi document in China, different theories on the origin of Karate-do, history of Karate-do from the Meiji era, and Okinawan Karate-do dynasties.
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