Karate Jutsu

The Original Teachings of Gichin Funakoshi

AKA Rentan Goshin Toudi Jutsu
AKA Rentan Goshin Karate Jutsu

Karate Jutsu – Hard Cover

Written in Tokyo and first published in March 1925, Rentan Goshin Karate Jutsu was a revision and republication of Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi (AKA Ryukyu Kenpo karate) the plates for which were destroyed by fire in 1923. This book features basically the same information as the 1922 Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi, but rather than the Hoan sketches, features over 200 photos of Funakoshi (in his fifties) performing the kata, including six throwing techniques. It also contains the original calligraphy from the 1922 version.

This English translation was undertaken by John Teramoto and is the only official version as recognised by the Japan Karate Do Shotokai. Teramoto writes that the text is exactly the same as the 1922 version, but with the addition of a few added paragraphs at the end. Funakoshi refers to it as a revised and enlarged Ryukyu Kenpo karate.

Readers should note that this is a translation of the same text as To-te Jitsu, only a different translation and layout seperates these two books. Perception of the two translations is that this Karate Jutsu version by John Teramoto is by far the better translation.

Funakoshi penned this title as a direct result of heightened interest in Karate following the famous Karate demonstration Funakoshi gave for the First Annual Athletics Exhibition in Tokyo, 1922. This book and the photos presented within represent Karate as it was, when first introduced to mainland Japan. As such this book provides a fascinating insight as to Funakoshi’s karate during the period of its subsequent spread throughout Japan.


Karate Jutsu Inudex Karate Jutsu is split into 7 Chapters split in to 4 main sections.

Section 1 : The History, Value and Methods of Karate.
Section 2 : The Compositional Structure of Karate
Section 3 : The Fundamentals of Kata and Karate
Section 4
: Additional Comments on the History and Research of Karate

Highlights of this book include a tremendous 7 page history by John Teramoto charting the emergence of Karate and the production of this book.

CHAPTER 1 – What is Karate

In Chapter 1 Funakoshi openly speculates as to the origins of Karate before drilling down into the karate lineage as it reached the likes of Asato and Itosu. He names individual karate exponents from the shorin and shorei styles. He also reveals why Shotokan includes aspects of both styles. Plenty of details are revealed here, especially useful for anyone with an inclination to search for further information.

In this chapter he also names 32 katas, under the naming convention used prior to the publication of Karate Do Kyohan, i.e Pinan and passai etc. Interestingly he also touches on the subject of karate gradings and competitions, a topic of much debate around Shotokai and Shotokan circles even today.

In the following chapters the reader is treated to other lesser known details such as an article he had published even before any of his books, in a newspaper in 1914. In that 3 day piece Funakoshi published details of a formal interview he had with Asato sensei.

CHAPTER 2 – The Value of Karate

This short three page chapter describes karate’s value as physical training, self defence and character building. There are four main headings: Its Value as Physical Training, The Value of Karate for Self-defense, The Value of Karate in Building Spirit and Cultivating Character, The Honor of Karate

CHAPTER 3 – Karate Training and Instruction

Here the reader is treated to descriptions of training methods back in Funakoshi’s day. Suggested training schedules and teaching philosophys are outlined, while stressing the importance of practice of both old and new where kata are concerned.

CHAPTER 4 – Systematic Analysis of Karate

In this chapter there are many detailed descriptions of strikes, kicks and stances, given with there correct Japanese names. For example, Henshu – switching of hands, shu-nite and ikite – the dying hand and living hand. Sixteen hand techniques are detailed, including two listed but not defined.
There are many photos of Funakoshi demonstrating the techniques.

The fundamental importance of the extension and retraction of both hands is discussed at quite a deep level. There are photographs showing how to make a fist, and form nikite strikes. Interestingly the example photo for a fist does not match the text, with the index finger being shown extended at the 2nd knuckle, not tucked in. For an explanation of this the reader will have to look elsewhere, perhaps Dynamic Karate by Nakayama. The manufacture and use of a makiwara is also detailed.

Fifteen kicking techniques are described. Interestingly Funakoshi notes that Tobi keri appears “often” in kata, perhaps not so recognisable in todays kata versions where a jumping kick is rarely seen.

Funakoshi also mentions Fumikiri, a rarely seen technique that is recorded on film by Enoeda during a JKA demonstration video many years later.

CHAPTER 5 – Fundamentals and Kata

The main body of the Karate Jutsu however is Section III – The Fundamentals and Kata of Karate, which spans 114 pages and details 15 kata. The moves of the first three kata (listed below) are each accompanied by descriptive text and a photo of Funakoshi demonstrating the moves. The remaining kata only have 2 or 3 photo’s each, and slightly less text describing each move.

Throughout this chapter there is occasional reference to the application which experienced karate students will no doubt be very interested to read and compare to today’s techniques. The origins of each kata is also revealed.

Pinan Shodan (Heian Nidan) is explained in good detail with 29 photos.
Naihanchi Shodan (tekki shodan) is explained over 10 pages with 37 photographs.
Koshokun (Kanku Dai) takes up 36 pages, again with a photo for each movement.
Pinan Nidan (Heian Shodan)
Pinan Sandan (Heian Sandan)
Pinan Godan (Heian Godan)
Naihanchi Nidan (Tekki Nidan)
Naihanchi Sandan (Tekki Sandan)
Sehshan (Hangetsu)
Passai (Bassai Dai)
Wanshu (Enpi)
Chinto (Gankaku)

Only the last two kata listed retained their names when compared to the kata’s as listed in Karate Do Kyohan.

CHAPTER 6 – There Is No First Strike In Karate

The final, short section of the book, is Additional Comments on the History and Research of Karate, beginning with the famous line “There is no first strike in Karate”. In this section Funakoshi goes to some length to describe “bu” and the importance of deportment and modesty.

Funakoshi then talks about the importance of the Ancient Law of Great Strength, mentioning wonderful phrases such as Fluttering Butterfly Wings method, and the Catching Fish by Splashing Water technique. He sadly decided not to elaborate and explain these methods however.

Finally for this section, 29 methods of escape are listed.

Chapter 7 – Karate’s Place in Public Opinion

Four pages describe Karate’s growth from the time it was first seen by the Crown Prince in Ryukyu to the public demonstrations and lectures given by Funakoshi in Tokyo. This provides an extremely interesting read for anyone remotely interested in the development of modern day karate, and coming from the pen of Funakoshi himself, unrivaled accuracy.

There are several paragraphs that reveal the thoughts behind karate training as a preparation for war, which have led to some heated discussion in some karate circles. Never the less, these details again add to the value of this book. Several newspaper articles featuring Karate are also detailed and provide interesting and insightful reading.


Following the final chapter there are 7 pages of notes clarifying details from each of the chapters in remarkable detail, revealing much more about the detail and growth of Karate. This section alone would provide even the most avid Karate reader with much food for thought, and scope for further research.

The sheer volume of historical information contained in the pages of Karate Jutsu make it essential reading for the dedicated Karate ka. As a reference manual the amount of detail, and the scope of information contained in this single title make it pretty much unrivaled as far as Shotokan Karate books go. The historical development and evolution of modern day karate is clearly mapped out.

For owners of the later title Karate Do Kyohan, this book makes especially fascinating reading as the progression of the style is clearly shown thanks to the brilliant photographs in both books.

Interestingly the translater of Karate Jutsu, John Teramoto, started training karate under Tsutomu Ohshima who was to be the translator for the authorative translation of the later title Karate Do Kyohan. Oshima was a student of Funakoshi for 5 years and eventually founded Shotokan Karate of America.

Comments (2)

SHAMEEROctober 25th, 2008 at 1:20 pm


AdminOctober 26th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

There is now a contact page you can use to send me a message, it’s linked to at the top of each page.

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