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Tanpenshu

Compilation & Translation by Patrick & Yuriko McCarthy
Review by Jon Keeling

Overview:

First of all, it should be noted that this is not a book originally written by Gichin Funakoshi named "Tanpenshu". "Tanpenshu" means, literally, "short stories" and only about 2/3 of this book consists of direct translations of writing by Funakoshi. The rest is comprised of stories by others about Funakoshi or otherwise related to Funakoshi. Furthermore, the "untold stories" claim on the book's cover may be slightly misleading; some stories are previously unpublished but much of it is not. Regardless, it is a nice compilation of stories that helps shed new light on the life of the founder of the Shotokan style of karate.

For those interested in karate history, this book does not disappoint. Pat Zalewski put it well in the book's postscript: "Some of the information brought forward in this book was not necessarily new to me. However, its publication has revealed the original sources from which other unreferenced publications obtained their material."

I noticed a few spelling and grammatical errors. But these minor inconveniences detract little from the quality of the work presented. Having worked on japanese-to-english translations myself, I can appreciate the hard work and dedication that has gone into those sections. Additional research was obviously done beyond basic translation of the words and for this it is nice to know that an experienced and knowledgeable karateka was involved. Translations of Funakoshi's writing is combined in this book with pieces written by others and translations were done by several scholars, not entirely by the McCarthy's, as the book's cover seems to suggest.

The organization of the chapters must have been something that Mr McCarthy spent some time contemplating. It seems a little confusing at times, however, if we are reading in chronological order. For the most part, the chapters are arranged in chronological order according to when the original piece was written. And it is not always clear who wrote what. This is my only real complaint about this book. How does one best include footnotes and explanations in a book? With the various font types, colors, bold, italics and underline options as well as links in webpages, I think perhaps some of us may now be a little spoiled by the added convenience and clarity in reading on the internet. Still, I think a better job could have been done in this book to designate what is translation and what is added by the translator as opinion of the original writing or notes on history, etc.

Specific comments on each section of the book:

Cover – The picture and text is not bad. It is not the way I would have done it. But by no means unprofessional. The binding of the book is a little weak.


Acknowledgements – the usual thank you to everyone.


Index – It would have been nice to have had the names of the author and translator listed here.
Foreword (by M Tsuruoka) – Mostly praise for Mr McCarthy, with minor mention of this book in the last paragraph.


Introduction – It is worth noting that Mr McCarthy mentions that he is not a Shotokan stylist. I think this is important to realize that he has no reason to embellish stories of the style's founder.


Okinawa no Bugi – by G Funakoshi, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1914)
Funakoshi provides a brief review of Okinawan karateka of the past and an overview of karate training of the time.


Secret Fighting Techniques – by G Sasaki, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1921)
This chapter was included as it had been cited by Funakoshi in his 1922 publication "Ryukyu Karate Kempo". It provides an overview of karate training, particularly how it relates to other martial arts and sports such as judo and boxing.


Karatedo in the Imperial Capital – by G Funakoshi, Translation by Joe Swift (1929)
Short publicity piece in which Funakoshi claims in this Okinawan magazine "Zasshi Okinawa" that karate is becoming popular and highly regarded in Tokyo.


Karate – by G Funakoshi, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1934)
Notes on progress made in karate development in Japan, highlighting events relating specifically to Keio Karate Research Group, as this article was written to commemorate their 10th anniversary.


Azato Anko – by G Funakoshi, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1934)
Recollections of one of Funakoshi's primary instructors.


Stillness & Action – by G Funakoshi, Translation by P& Y McCarthy (1934)
Detailed explanation of why Funakoshi decided on "Seikan" for the calligraphy used at Waseda University's dojo.


Speaking about Karatedo – by G Funakoshi, Translation by P McCarthy (1935)
Relatively lengthy article covering various subjects including the history of karate, as well as stories about some notable karateka of the past.


Karatedo – by G Funakoshi, Translator unknown, edit by P McCarthy (pub 1954)
Some brief history and explanation of what karate is and is not.


Photos section
Mostly previously published photos but nice to see all in the same place.


Bubishi – from 1922, 1925 & 1935 publications by G Funakoshi, Translation by P McCarthy
These lines are actually quotes from “Bubishi”, a very old text considered by some to be “the bibile of karate”. This section presented provides a review of the 8 Precepts of Quanfa, Maxims of Sun Zi, grappling concepts and more.


Itosu’s 10 Articles – by A Itosu, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1908)
Itosu, one of Funakoshi’s two main instructors (along with Azato, mentioned earlier), puts forth 10 guiding thoughts to bear in mind concerning karate training.


Bushi Matsumura’s 7 Virtues of Bu – by Matsumura, Translation by P & Y McCarthy (1882)
Explanation of the studies of Shiso, Kunko and Junkyo, as these concepts relate to the study of literature and karate training.


Muso Soseki –by Pat McCarthy (no note made here of the author of this section)
This short section provides some thoughts on the relationships between zen and karate, particularly how it relates to Funakoshi. Interesting personal notes are included describing the setting at Enkakuji Temple, in Kita-Kamakura, where monuments were placed on Funakoshi’s behalf in the 1960’s.


Master Funakoshi’s Karate – by Graham Noble
Another noted karate historian in this chapter brings up various historical points regarding Funakoshi Gichin and his 3rd son, Yoshitaka, as well as the JKA’s early days. Also in this chapter is a list of the “Shoto Nijukun” and explanations of their interpretations.


Funakoshi’s Chronology – compiled by P McCarthy
A concise overview of major events in the life of Funakoshi.


Postscript – by Pat Zalewski
A review of the book, pointing out some of the more interesting sections.


Bibliography
Relatively lengthy list of reference material.


Index
I was pleasantly surprised to see an index included. This was not expected and very appreciated by those like me who want to find a specific reference quickly.

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Ratings:

On a scale from 1 to 10, each criterion is assigned a rating. The numerical ratings are then summed to reach the overall rating of the book.

Quality of information 9
Quantity of information 7
Quality of book (printing, binding, etc) 5
Value for karate development 3
Readability/tone 9
Flow between/within topics 7
Technical details 4
Photos – quality and quantity 8
Photos – form of examples 8
Value/cost 6
Total 66


Notes on ratings:
Quality of information - Although not at all technical, great historical information.
Quantity of information - Very much history and some personal insight but not much about actual training.
Quality of book (printing, binding, etc) - Layout and quality of printing, binding, etc, all OK but binding weak.
Value for karate development - Great for those interested in history but not for actualy karate training.
Readability/tone - Relatively well written & edited.
Flow between/within topics - Little transition but topic was related from chapter to chapter.
Technical details - Included details in some sections but not much technique-specific.
Photos: quality and quantity - Many good photos.
Photos: form of examples - Nobody would buy this book to learn karate from. This is a history book.
Value/cost- A little pricey as compared to other karate books but not unreasonable for those interested in karate history.

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