August 17, 2009

The master text

I'm running down my chronological list of the 10 books that have had the biggest impact on me growing up. What are yours?

Brief recap: early childhood, The Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Junior high: The Lord of the Rings. High School: The Tao Te Ching and...

#6 Karate-Do Kyohan by Gichin Funakoshi. I've often discussed my lifelong love of the martial arts here. Funakoshi (1868-1957) was a sickly child who took up karate for his health on his native island of Okinawa and played a lead role in introducing the art to the Japanese main islands and ultimately the world.

This book by Funakoshi is considered to be the Bible of Shotokan Karate and related styles. If you're not into this kind of thing, it's not a page turner. Most of it is devoted to an explanation of techniques and the demonstration of the main katas or formal exercises of the style.

It is also full of Funakoshi's maxims on ethics and the relationship of karate to daily life. He was and remains one of my main ethical beacons. Sample quote:

True Karate-do is this: that in daily life, one's mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility; and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.

1 comment:

Cardozo said...

Ok, I'll play!

The first big that had a profound influence on my life and values was Daniel Quinn's Ishmael.

I read this alarming book as a high-schooler and it successfully articulated something that I had been feeling for years -- that there is something fundamentally broken, and almost beyond repair, about modern civilization.

Since then I've become less of a doomsayer but I still do admire Quinn for calling out in such a stark and interesting way that we are on a collision course with mother nature.