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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14611
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:40 pm    Post subject: Karate by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard C. Brown Reply with quote

I received this book for free from Tuttle Publishing, who contacted Patrick with the offer. Thank you, both!

If this book succeeds in teaching the reader the main elements of true karate and encourages him to learn and practice it, we shall feel that our efforts have been amply rewarded.

- Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard C. Brown

There are martial art books, and then there are martial art books. Very few of them are written with the definitiveness, through and through, of Karate: The Art Of "Empty-Hand" Fighting" by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard C. Brown.

This well written book of books has stood the test of time for well over five decades. The true test of any martial arts book, in my honest opinion, is that whenever you stumble across it, purposefully or mistakenly, it'll be tattered, dog-eared, covered in notes and well-worn by the book's owner - but totally dust free!

This book continues to captivate and mesmerize both the martial artist and non-martial artist alike with its earth shattering peek into two worlds: Shotokan and the martial arts. While these two worlds are separate entities, they find comfort in one another by sharing information willingly: both for unswerving critics and for untold scores of martial artists.

Initial Discovery

I first came across this jewel of a book back in 1965 when I was a wide-eyed and impressionable yellow belt. Albeit, I wasn't even a practitioner of Shotokan; I'm a Shindokan practitioner. Nor was I a student of Nishiyama Sensei, Brown Sensei and/or any other Shotokan sensei. I didn't even know what Shotokan was; nonetheless, I became quite intrigued. The craziest thing about how I came to receive this book back then was that my sensei, Dai-Soke Yoshinobu Takahashi, bestowed it upon me as a means of helping me to train at home. The core if both Shindokan and Shotokan is similar - however, that's where the similarity ends. The first penned scribbling done into my copy were those of my sensei as he noted reminders of differences that needed to be followed without any ambiguity. Shindokan stances, for example, are much more upright than those of Shotokan.

I strongly believe that this book is a virtual fountain of knowledge - and not just for Shotokan practitioners. The authoritativeness of its authors can be surely be felt by readers, from page to page and chapter to chapter.

The Authors

So much has already been written about Hidetaka Nishiyama; volumes after volumes exist without any unqualified fanfare and/or exaggeration. I have no direct intimate knowledge about him; just undulated impressions about him that I've formed through everything I've read and/or heard about him from those who had the distinct pleasure of learning from him. This includes those who trained with him as his peers and those who handled him. I believe that I've come to know him through these mutual connections. I suppose I can only speak as a fan from afar concerning Nishiyama Sensei; highlighting the power points of his lustrous, unblemished career in the martial arts. More importantly, as a karateka whose dedication towards karate-do is unmistakably geared to increase his betterment daily.

Permit me to offer you this, as it appears on the back cover of this book:

Hidetaka Nishiyama was born in 1928 in Tokyo and began his study of Shotokan karate in 1943 as a student of karatedo founding father Gichin Funakoshi. He holds a master's degree in economics from Takushoku University. Nishiyama-sensei was a co-founder of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) and rose to the position of chief instructor of the JKA. He was a member of the delegation that introduced the study of Japanese martial arts to the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, and subsequently to the U.S. as a whole. Nishiyama-sensei is the founder and chief instructor of the International Traditional Karate Federation and, when not traveling the world conducting seminars, teaches in Los Angeles. Among his notable students are All-Japan Karate champions Hiroshi Shirai and Takeshi Oishi.

To whet the appetite and curiosity, I present to you with some additional links to consider:
Sadly, Nishiyama Sensei passed away, after a long battle with lung cancer, on November 7, 2008.

I was not able to find much in my research about Nishiyama Sensei's co-author, Richard C. Brown, other than what was provided on the back cover of the book:

Richard C. Brown is a senior American member of the JKA.

On every search I attempted, I was connected to Nishiyama Sensei and this book they both had collaborated on. I even contacted the JKA in the hopes of being directed to where I might be able to find information about him; alas, I was denied any access or information.

If anyone, after reading this book review, happens to have any information about Richard C. Brown, it would be greatly appreciated by those here at


At the time of publishing of Karate: The Art of "Empty-Hand" Fighting, Nishiyama Sensei carried a Godan (5th dan) rank in Shotokan. In 1961, Nishiyama Sensei moved to the U.S.A. and, shortly thereafter, he founded the All American Karate Federation (AAKF). This book is in its 80th printing; an unheard of milestone, especially with it being a martial arts book.

251 pages of pure dynamite rests between its covers, waiting to unleash the unbridled contents that await its readers. This book, in my humble opinion, is primarily a study of kihon (basics). It also taps into kata (formal exercise) - one kata can be found, Heian 4 - and kumite (sparring). It briefly touches karate's origins, training and equipment.

Side note: Heian 4 is performed in this book by (none other than) Hirokazu Kanazawa Sensei, who is considered worldwide as one of the most technical masters of kata!

The authors provide many fine examples of karate's self-defense applications through over 1,000 photographs. These photographic demonstrations highlight not only Nishiyama Sensei, but also two equally renowned instructors: Teriyuki Okazaki and Hirokazu Kanazawa. Both of whom offered their assistance in the making of this epic book.

Side note, more for grins and giggles: you can see a photograph depicting kumite on page 118. The karatekas are Nishiyama Sensei, on the left, executing a side kick/block, directed towards Kanazawa Sensei, and Kanazawa Sensei, on the right, executing a roundhouse kick towards Nishiyama Sensei. In other words, simultaneous attacks/counter-attacks. This very photograph was used in the manufacturing of a very famous patch, which has been around well over 40 years. It was around when I was a child and can still be purchased today.

22 Chapters

The 22 chapters found within this book are divided into 3 separate parts: introduction, basic techniques and their practice and karate as self-defense. The bulk of the material can be found in Part 2. Here is the full chapter listing:
  • What is karate?
  • A short history
  • Essential principles
  • Organization of karate techniques
  • Training methods
  • Calisthenics
  • Striking points and vital points
  • Stance
  • Posture
  • Body shifting
  • Hand techniques
  • Foot techniques
  • Techniques in combination
  • Formal exercise
  • Sparring
  • Throwing Techniques
  • Defense against holding
  • Defense from floor-sitting position
  • Defense from chair-sitting position
  • Defense against knife attack
  • Defense against attack by club
  • Defense against pistol threat
And to put a cherry on top of the pie, the book adds an appendix that discusses karate equipment, including 3 pages on the makiwara and 1 page each on the following: the hanging heavy bag, punching ball, body stretcher, dumbbells, iron geta (clogs), heavy club, pulley, and mirror.

Final word

Can one learn karate from this book? Yes! Why not? However, I'm not a proponent of learning any martial art entirely from any written book without the guidance of a qualified instructor to provide effective, qualified feedback. That said, the authors have provided for this scenario:

For the benefit of those who want to learn karate from this book without the aid of an instructor, a recommended training sequence is given below. Of course, the length of the practice sessions and the rigorousness of the training should be varied according to physical conditions, age, etc., of the student.

What this phenomenal book has, that many martial arts books don't have, is constant reminders to "avoid these mistakes." This is one of the many reasons that so many martial artists have found value in this work. Throughout the entire book, they consistently highlight shortcomings to avoid, essentially bringing a qualified instructor right into your home.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any serious martial artist and to those who are just curious about karate. Its price is quite nominal, making it more than an affordable addition to your library, but also as a means of measuring ones betterment.

To know your enemy is to study your enemy. Thusly, to know the martial arts is to study all forms of the martial arts - either partially or completely. This exciting book meets that requirement without any ambiguity. I believe that this is the bible of Shotokan and, if it's not, then it should be, in my opinion! Often, books of this type find themselves being improved upon for one reason or another. This book remains unchanged since 1960; to me, this proves its worthiness in its parts as well as in its whole.

Add this book to your collection or library and see for yourself; I assure you, you will not be disappointed!

Buy the book:, ( receives a small commission on any sales generated through these links).
**Proof is on the floor!!!
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KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27145
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Bob.

Patrick O'Keefe - Administrator
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27927
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a good read, Bob. Thank you for the review.
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14611
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please trust me when I say that this book is far, far better than my book review!!

**Proof is on the floor!!!
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