Karate 1.0 – Review

I rarely buy Karate-do books in English; at least not for a very long time. In fact I’ve sold most of my Karate-do books over the past couple of years and have never regretted the decision. With few exceptions, they were mediocre at best, and at their worst poorly written and researched. I find this both shocking and humorous at the same time – so many supposed “experts” writing books on Karate-do yet they have no understanding of the history, culture, language and traditions from which their art stems from.

Recently I was sent a copy of Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art by Andreas Quast and was very pleasantly surprised at what I read; perhaps even a little shocked. Not by any controversy, unpublished documents, or “secret” family kata contained in it’s pages, but by the quality, breadth and depth of the information presented – the history, philosophy, politics, and sociology that went into the development of Karate-do and Kobudo.

I am a Karate “otaku” so naturally I loved it. But I should warn you that if you’re looking for a “how to” book on Karate-do or another book teaching the latest paired kata applications, then this book will fall on deaf ears. It is a dense, fact driven, meticulously researched book on the phenomena of Okinawa Karate-do and Kobudo. In fact, at 500 pages it reads more as a doctoral thesis at times with clear, concise and direct language, and supporting references. This may scare some readers and to that I say “good”! If that’s the case then this book is not for you. But if you’re interested in truly understanding the landscape from which Okinawa Karate-do and Kobudo emerged, then I think you will thoroughly enjoy Karate 1.0.  A sample of the book can be found here.