In the current world of Youtube, Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, etc., nearly everything is obtainable nearly instantly. And that includes Karate as a subject. Want to know something about Karate? Look it up on the internet somewhere or other. Most likely what you are wanting to know can be found there and on several sources and with several points of view and/or several opinions.
While there is not anything necessarily wrong with this and it is certainly interesting to refer to different sources, it is most often more educational and more helpful overall to refer to the original written sources for much more depth, detail and original text. Way before the previously stated social media outlets and even before many films, videos and DVD’s, books were a great way to learn from and examine Karate and all Martial Arts on a much more deeper and detailed manner. These books also served to help one train at home when an instructor and/or sempai were not immediately available to help. They still do. They also helped provide inspiration and often times a
philosophical study of Karate-Do and Martial Arts. They still do these as well.
And while nowadays, so many books are available on Kindle, etc. and one does not even have to physically have a copy of them, there is nothing like holding a book, flipping through the pages, looking at the cover artwork, looking at the pictures, reading it and learning from a book.
Listed below are just a few books, some of which are classics and some which are possibly less known. Not all are specifically about Shotokan Karate. Without giving a review of each of them, they will be classified according to their overall topic, although some may also contain more than one topic and some may overlap.
General and Kihon -
Dynamic Karate - Masatoshi Nakayama: THE definitive textbook on the techniques of Shotokan Karate. Also features several photographs of various Japanese Karate masters, including Master Takayuki Mikami.
Best Karate: Vol. 1-2 - Masatoshi Nakayama: Volume 1 is a concise book on Shotokan Karate, while Volume 2 covers techniques of Shotokan Karate.
Karate: The Art of Empty Hand Fighting - Hidetaka Nishiyama: The first textbook on Shotokan Karate published in English. An outstanding overall book on Shotokan Karate and training methods. This book also featuresphotographs of Japanese Karate Masters, once again including Master Takayuki Mikami.
Karate-Do Kyohan: Master Text for the Way of the Empty Hand - Gichin Funakoshi: First published in 1935 in Japan, this book was the first well-known book to be written by Master Funakoshi. It is interesting to also note that Nagae Waza (throwing techniques) are also included in this book. This book was first printed in English, in 1973 with some differences from the original. The 1935 version was printed in English in 2016 and is highly recommended. Master Funakoshi wrote other books as well which are also recommended.
The Textbook of Modern Karate - Teruyuki Okazaki/Milorad V. Stricevic M.D.: A book on the techniques of Shotokan Karate, along with a very scientific and medical presentation on Karate training. Out of print, but highly suggested.
Dynamic Karate - Hirokazu Kanazawa: An excellent book on the techniques of Shotokan Karate, including several stretching and breathing exercises. It has also been published as Kanazawa’s Karate.
Black Belt Karate: Intensive Course - Hirokazu Kanazawa: An excellent overall book on Shotokan Karate.
Shotokan Karate: 10th Kyu to 6th Kyu and 5th Kyu to Black Belt - Keinosuke Enoeda: 2 different books, both which guide the student through the Kihon,
Kata and Kumite for each rank.
Karate Kata Heian 1 - Tekki 3: Official Manual of the Japan Karate Association - Masatoshi Nakayama: These set of books was published as 5 different books. Long preceding the later written Best Karate series, this set of Shotokan Kata books is well worth having, despite being long out of print. Kata and their applications are demonstratednby various Masters of the Japan Karate Association.
Best Karate: Vol. 5-11 - Masatoshi Nakayama: The definitive textbooks on the Kata of Shotokan Karate as taught by the Japan Karate Association while Master Masatoshi Nakayama was Chief Instructor. Includes all Shotokan Kata with the exception of Wankan and Ji’in.
Shotokan Karate International Kata Vol. 1-2 - Hirokazu Kanazawa: The 26 standard Shotokan Kata as taught by Master Hirokazu Kanazawa. Only very slight differences from the JKA versions in a few Kata; which are interesting to know also. It must be noted that Master Kanazawa was a direct student of Master Nakayama and one of the original first graduates of the Japan Karate Association Instructor Training Program. The other 2 being Master Takayuki Mikami and Master Eiji Takaura. This these books also include wonderful photographs of Master Kanazawa teaching and demonstrating worldwide.
Karate: The Complete Kata - Hirokazu Kanazawa: Essentially an updated version of the previously mentioned Shotokan Karate International Kata Vol. 1-2, with the addition of the Kata Gankaku-Sho.
Basic Karate Katas - Hirokasu (as spelled on the cover) Kanazawa: An interesting book not including all 26 Shotokan Kata, yet including also including Heian 4 performed using a Sai (truncheon).
Advanced Shotokan Kata Vol. 1-3 - Keinosuke Enoeda: A great set of books on most advanced Shotokan Kata featuring large photographs and details of each Kata.
Japanese Traditional Karate Shoutoukan Kata Vol. 1-5 - Hiroshi Shoji: A fabulous series of advanced Kata books written by Master Hiroshi Shoji, 1st All-Japan Kata Champion in 1957.
Best Karate Vol. 4-5 - Masatoshi Nakayama: An outstanding set of books exclusively on Kumite. Features several Masters of the Japan Karate Association demonstrating some of their favorite techniques and strategies.
S.K.I. Kumite Kyohan - Hirokazu Kanazawa: A very well-rounded book on all types of Kumite, interestingly including Hyoteki (target training) and Happo Kumite (8 direction Kumite).
Karate Fighting Techniques - Hirokazu Kanazawa: Essentially an updated version of the previously mentioned S.K.I. Karate Kumite.
Shotokan Karate Free Fighting Techniques - Keinosuke Enoeda: An insight into Kumite by Master Enoeda.
Karate-Do Perfecting Kumite - Masahiko Tanaka: An outstanding book on Kumite by 2 times World Champion in Kumite and 3 times All-Japan Champion in Kumite Masahiko Tanaka.
Kumite 1: Gosoku Ryu Karate - Takayuki Kubota: Gosoku Ryu is translated as “hard and fast,” and is exactly what is emphasized in Master Kubota’s style of Karate, which is an offshoot of Shotokan.
Practical Karate Vol. 1-6 - Masatoshi Nakayama and Donn F. Drager: A series of books on Shotokan as trained and practiced in several varied situations of self-defense. Highly recommended.
Karate In Action: Kata & Self-Defense Vol. 1-2 - Masatoshi Nakayama: Quite similar to the aforementioned Practical Karate series, yet with not as much variety.
Karate Defence And Attack - BOOK ONE - Keinosuke Enoeda and John Chisholm: Another outstanding book featuring several self-defense situations, some including defense against weapons, multiple attackers and self-defense inside of an automobile.
Nunchaku Dynamic Training - Hirokazu Kanazawa: One of the few Shotokan Masters publicly known for his interest in Kobudo training, Master Kanazawa presents a very easy to follow textbook on Nunchaku training. Includes a special Nunchaku Kata designed for combat and another Nunchaku Kata designed for health.
Nunchaku: Karate Weapon Of Self-Defense (by Fumio Demura and Dan Ivan), Advanced Nunchaku, Bo: Karate Weapon Of Self-Defense, Tonfa: Karate Weapon Of Self-Defense - Fumio Demura: Master Fumio Demura, a long time friend of Master Takayuki Mikami and guest instructor at past All-South Karate Federation training camps, is well known as THE specialist on Kobudo. A Shito-Ryu Master, his teachings in Karate and Kobudo transcend all styles and in particular, his Kubudo teachings and books are groundbreaking and were some of the original printed teaching manuals on Kobudo.
Kubotan Keychain: Instrument of Attitude Adjustment - Takayuki Kubota: A textbook on the use and application of the Kubotan Keychain, a keychain with an attached baton that can be used for self-defense. Master Kubota has written several outstanding books on Karate, Self-Defense and Kobudo, all of which are highly recommended.
Go Rin No Sho: The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi: Most probably the most well-known book on strategy. Written by the undefeated Japanese swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, this book has been used not only for combat strategy, but also for business negotiations and other uses.
The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master - Takuan Soho: The title roughly translated as, “The Mysterious Records of Immovable Wisdom,” this outstanding little book provides insight and guidance into Zen philosophy. It should be noted that Takuan Soho was Japanese monk of the Rinzai sect and is thought to have possibly known and influenced Miyamoto Musashi.
Bushido - The Soul Of Japan - Inazo Nitobe: Thought to have been the first book published in the United States on the philosophy that guided the Samurai of Japan, Nitobe provides an extremely in depth and detailed insight into not only the Samurai philosophy, but also into Bushido as a whole and its influence on Japanese culture, society and way of life.
The Code of The Samurai: The Spirit that Drives Japan - Daidoji Yuzan: This is a 16th century treaty of Daidoji Yuzan and was first translated into English in 1941 by A. L. Sadler: A highly recommended book on the regulations of Bushido. A must read for all Martial Artists.
Hagukure - The Code of the Samurai - Yamamoto Tsunetomo: Yet another insight into the philosophy of the Samurai. This book must be read with patience, as its concepts and ideas are not common amongst most Westerners.
The Fighting Spirit of Japan - E.J. Harrison: An insight into Japanese Martial Arts, their history, application in daily life and overall philosophy. This was one of the first books published in the West on Budo.
Mind Power: Secret Strategies for the Martial Arts - Kazumi Tabata: An excellent book on strategy.
Secret Tactics: Lessons from the Great Masters of Martial Arts - Kazumi Tabata: Interpretations on the strategies and philosophies of famous Martial Artists.
Perfection of Character: Guiding Principles for the Martial Arts & Everyday Life - Teruyuki Okazaki: An outstanding book on Master Okazaki’s interpretation of the Shoto Niju-Kun and the Dojo Kun of Master Gichin Funakoshi. A must for every Karate-ka!
Shotokan Karate: Its History and Evolution - Randall G. Hassell: The first definitive and accurate book on Shotokan Karate. Outstanding!
Autobiographical and Biographical -
Karate-Do: My Way of Life - Gichin Funakoshi: An autobiography of Master Funakoshi. Describes his beginnings in Karate-Do and his life story.
Conversations with the Master - Randall G. Hassell: An exclusive and enlightening interview with Master Masatoshi Nakayama.
Karate My Life - Hirokazu Kanazawa: The autobiography of Master Hirokazu Kanazawa. Includes several anecdotes and personal feelings about his beloved Karate-Do.
Keinosuke Enoeda - Tiger of Shotokan Karate - Rod Butler: An outstanding biography of and tribute to Master Keinosuke Enoeda written by his personal student Rod Butler. Includes personal anecdotes and personal tributes from students around the world to the Shotokan Master known as the Tiger of Shotokan Karate.
The Road To Karate: A Budoka’s Way to Live - Hiroshi Shoji: An outstanding book written by one of the first instructors of The Japan Karate Association, with stories of his life and training.
Moving Zen: One Man’s Journey to the Heart of KARATE - C.W. Nicol, forward by Master Hirokazu Kanazawa: The first book to be written by a non-Japanese student of Karate describing beginning his training in Shotokan Karate from White Belt to Black Belt. An outstanding book that inspired thousands and continues to do so. A must read.
Spirit of the Empty Hand - Stan Schmidt: A fictional story, which is based on non-fictional events in the life of the highest ranking non-Japanese Master and one of the very first foreigners to live and train in Japan. Includes an analysis of the events in the book and their relation to Karate-Do and to life.
Meeting Myself: Beyond Spirit of the Empty Hand - Stan Schmidt: A much more autobiographical book than Spirit of the Empty Hand, yet includes excerpts from it. Overall, an enjoyable and educational insight into the training and teaching experiences of Stan Schmidt.
There are more books that could be listed. However, this list of books
is quite extensive, inclusive and should provide a variety of a
resources for training, study and education in Karate-Do and Budo.