Legend of the Fist by Patrick McCarthy

As a young karateka back in the 1980s there were a few books in my early collection that I read from cover-to-cover, again and again. Among these was Classical Kata of Okinawan Karateby Patrick McCarthy, which fascinated me for the capsule histories of many of karate’s historical figures, and for the various teases it provided about the history of Ryukyu karate that McCarthy sensei would expand upon in later publications.

In the early 1990s my karate training took me to Tokyo for a couple of years, and knowing that McCarthy had been resident in Japan for sometime I reached out to him. He invited me to visit him at his home in Kamakura, which I did at my first opportunity, and I was humbled that Patrick sensei welcomed me into his home, introducing me to his family and enthusiastically (to say the least) giving me a glimpse into his research.

I remember clearly that he was most enthusiastic about two projects.

The first was his translation of The Bubishi. At the time we first met, McCarthy sensei had just sold out of the first, self-published, edition, but I was later to receive a signed copy of the the second (also self-published) edition. I’ve bought every edition since, because McCarthy sensei sees this type of publication as a living document, and has expanded it greatly.

The second project has in the last few weeks finally seen the light of day. More than 25 years in the making, the Legend of the Fist is the definitive compilation of classical karate related writing that every karateka needs to have in their reference library.

Some of the articles in volume 1 of Legend of the Fist include:

  • Ochayagoten Celebration
  • Matsumura Sokon’s 1882 Seven Precepts of Bu and 1885 Zaiyunomei writinga
  • Itosu Anko’s 1908 Ten Articles
  • King Magazine on Motobu Choki
  • The 1936 Meeting of the Masters
  • Several articles about the Bubishi
  • An interview with Kinjo Hiroshi
  • And much, much more.

The more than 25 individual chapters each represet significant work in research and translation, and each is backed up by images from McCarthy sensei’s personal collection.

I am astounded that this rich tome is only volume 1, and I know that I will certainly be looking forward to seeing what further gems McCarthy sensei surfaces for the next volume.

McCarthy sensei has done his research the old fashioned way—visiting Japan, Okinawa, China and many other countries; searching through museums, libraries and more; interviewing many famous and lesser known masters; and, deeply immersing himself in the culture and language. His work continues inspire me, and I hope that all readers will support his research and embrace the opportunity to have a rich collection of writing in their reference library.

Buy Legend of the Fist on Amazon.com.

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