Everything is natural, and changing.
Although we are not sure of Choki Motobu's total involvement in Kenpo, if any I have decided to include this short biography of this great martial artist who is also rumoured to be James Mitose's uncle.
Choki Motobu was born in Akahira village Shuri, the old capital of Okinawa, in 1871. There has been much false information printed about Choki Motobu, which only recently has been cleared up by his son Chosei Motobu.
It has been often stated that Choki Motobu, as third son of a high-ranking family, did not receive the same level of education as his brothers, and did not learn his family's art of Udunde, as this was pasted on to the oldest son only. Choyo Motobu was the the eldest son of the Motobu family. These assertions are absolutely false. Rumors about Choki Motobu's education and training were spread on mainland Japan to discredit him!
Choki Motobu was born into a high-ranking family, his father was Choshin Motobu, an aji or lord of the highest level.
Choki Motobu trained every day, lifting stone weights and hitting the makiwara (striking post). He would strike the makiwara a thousand times a day. Motobu would sometimes sleep outside, (when he slept inside the dojo he would lie on the hard wooden floor, without a mattress), and if he woke up during the night, rather than turning over and going back to sleep he would get up and hit the makiwara. Motobu was also very agile and quick and he got the nickname "Motobu-saru" (Monkey Motobu), not because of his rough behavior, but because of his remarkable agility in climbing trees and moving from branch to branch as nimbly as a monkey.
Choki Motobu's idea of a good training session was to go down to Naha's entertainment district. This area was well known for street fighting and Motobu picked up valuable experience in this way. Being bigger and stronger than the average Okinawan he usually won these fights, but there was one occasion when he tackled a man called Itarashiki and was well beaten. This Itarashiki was a karate expert and the defeat only made Motobu more determined to train hard and learn more about karate.
Choki Motobu was able to get instruction from several leading experts, because of Motobu's upper-class birth. Motobu originally studied karate with the famous Ankoh Itosu, the leading master of Shuri-te. He later studied with Kosaku (Bushi) Matsumora and with Master Sakuma. However, Motobu's karate always seemed to bear his own instinctive stamp, arising no doubt from his independent nature and his fighting experiences. He always emphasized practicality, and in time many people came to regard him as the best fighter on Okinawa.
It was only after he moved to Osaka, mainland Japan, in 1921 that he became known in Japanese martial art circles. What brought Motobu to the attention of the Japanese was his victory over a Western boxer in a kind of all-comers challenge match in Kyoto, Japan. For the record, the story states that Motobu knocked the boxer unconscious. Choki Motobu was over 50 years old when he defeated the Western boxer!
So spectacular it was featured in "Kingu", Japanâ€™s most popular magazine of the era, the victory sadly did little for Motobu personally. Illustrations used in the magazine implied the victor was Gichin Funakoshi, a man inferior in both social status and fighting ability to Motobu, infuriating the latter, and ensuring instant fame for Funakoshi who went on to found the Shotokan style of karate and become a karate legend.
Motobu authored two books on martial arts, titled Okinawan Kempo Tode Jutsu Hen, 1926, and Watashi no Karate Jutsu, 1932. In 1940, Choki Motobu returned to Okinawa and died there in 1944.
Choki Motobu and his wife Nabi (Morishima) had four children: Choko, Shige (a daughter), Choso and Chosei (born in 1925). Choko and Choso died during W.W.II. Shige passed away in the mid 1980's.
The Motobu family art of Motobu-ryu continues today, as it was learned from his father, by Chosei Motobu. He is the president of the Nihon Karate-do Motobukai and the head of the Motobu-Ryu Daidokan, the dojo established by Choki Motobu., and is continued to be taught by him today. For a great look at the martial arts of Choki Motobu, I highly recomend The Karate of Choki Motobu as taught on video by his son Chosei Motobu.
His students included Shoshin Nagamine (Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu), Yasuhiro Konishi (Shindo Jinen Ryu) and Hironori Otsuka (Wado Ryu), all of whom formed their own karate styles based, in part, on his teachings.
In the early 20th century (before Karate became as famous as it is today), Western fighters would come to Japan and put on exhibition fights against local martial artists (usually judoka). Choki Motobu was a spectator to one of these fights when the Western fighter (reportedly, a Russian boxer) issued an open challenge (sort of like that scene in Jet Li's Fearless). Motobu took that challenge. The first few rounds consisted mostly of evasion by Motobu, but after that, it is reported that Motobu moved in on his opponent (who was considerably larger than him) and knocked him out with a single hand strike to the head.