Bubishi the karate bibleMartial Philosophy based on Bubishi, the Karate Bible

We have been practising Karate Kihon Renshu (basics techniques or PT 1), Zenshin Kottai ( moving techniques or PT2), Ippon Kumite ( one step sparring), Sanpon Kumite( three step sparring) , Kumite (free sparring)  etc., etc. . Regardless of belt and grade, we are all working on these again and again for many years to make the same even better. Indeed these efforts give us better strength, speed, mobility, good health and finally a disciplined character. But only when we apply the fundamental martial philosophy into our daily toil will it bear the real fruit – the true martial ability and morale.

Here are some martial tips directly taken from the Bubishi translated and commented by Sensei Patrik McCarthy. A few words about Bubishi : It is the collection of ancient martial arts techniques, philosophy, vital points attacks/ death touches and Chinese Medicine/ Herbal pharmacology that originated in China, brought to Okinawa, referred and studied by all stalwarts of Okinawan karate to shape their karate style. It is known as the Karate Bible.

Developing Inner strength

1) Eliminate external distractions and concentrate only upon intention.

2) Coordinate breathing and synchronize it with the muscular activity. When you extend your arm, exhale and strike but conserve 50% of air and never expel all of your air at one time.

3) Listen to your breathing and become aware of every part of your body.

4) There must be a constant but pliable muscular contraction in the deltoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, serratus and pectoral muscle group.

5) To encourage perfect diaphragm breathing, the spine must be parallel to the stomach.

6) Techniques are executed forward and back from where the elbows meet the waist.

Principles of Movement

1) Foot movements similar to walking. One initiates the step naturally and conclude it with firmness.

2) Smoothly make each step identical to the last, with the big toe of the rear foot aligned with the heal of the other (shoulder-width apart).

3) Foot movement, both in a forward and backward direction should correspond to the crescent shape of a quarter moon with the knees slightly bent, moving quietly.

4) Leg muscles must be firm but flexible to engender mobility.

Advice for engagement

1) Mind must be calm but alert

2) Look for that which is not seen easily.

3) User your peripheral vision.

4) Remain calm when you face your opponent.

5) Have confident body language and facial expression

6) Use a posture that will support mobility.

Using Hands

1) “Hand Techniques require the use of the body. The body generates the power and the hands serve as the instruments of the contact. Like a cat catching a rat, a tiger pulls down a wild boar with its body; the claws serve as the means of contact.”

2) “It takes great courage and skill to take out an adversary with a calm mind. True masters establish a balance between their lives and their art to a degree that their lives become as much as a product of the art as is the art, a product of their lives.”

3) “When thrusting with the tips of the fingers, maximum force is achieved only when the four fingers are squeezed tightly together and supported by the thumb. Cultivating this special technique, one can generate remarkable force.”


1) “Perfect balance is a reflection of what is within. It is also a prerequisite for combative proficiency. It is by mastering balance that one is able to easily take advantage of, or deliberately create, a weakness in an opponent’s posture. Such weaknesses must by attacked without hesitation.”

2) “If someone attempts to seize your by surprise, you might be better off to escape, re-establish your balance, and then engage the opponent. However, the circumstances dictate the means it is good to employ evasive tactics when forcefully attacked. It is a good time to launch a counter-offensive upon perceiving that the opponent’s energy is exhausted.”

3) “Like the sun’s strength, your energy must radiate outward, your eyes should be clear as moon, and your legs should be like the rolling wheels of a cart. Your postures too, from head to toe, must be evenly balanced so that foot work and hand techniques support each other. If everything is in balance, no one will be able to defeat you.”

4) “Be sure to practice according to your teacher’s advice and always be open to learn the ways of others. It takes a long time to achieve perfection based upon our experience. Do not be in a hurry; patience is a virtue. Above all be honest with yourself, do not deceive others, and live a modest life. If you do not follow these rules, you will never realize the way.”