There are many good martial arts books and DVDs out there that are aimed at helping you improve your technical and background knowledge of Shotokan Karate. They also give you philosophical and historical insights that help to provide a good overall grounding in your martial arts study, that can’t always be covered during our weekly classes. In this list I am going to recommend the best books, DVDs, and resources that cover three main categories—technical reference for our style of Shotokan; the philosophy and history of martial arts; and general interest info on martial arts.
Karate Fighting Techniques: The Complete Kumite—Hirokazu Kanazawa
(This book covers all of the set partner work drills from beginner to black belt and beyond in Shotokan Karate—we cover all of this in class.)
Karate: The Complete Kata – Hirokazu Kanazawa
(This book includes 27 Shotokan kata currently practiced in the SKIF system. This book is essential for serious practitioners.)
Shotokan Karate Kata Vol. 1 & Vol. 2—Hirokazu Kanazawa
(These two books cover the 26 official Shotokan Karate Kata. An excellent reference.)
Black Belt Karate: The Intensive Course—Hirokazu Kanazawa
(An excellent book that puts forth a suggested home training plan for the first year of training with back up material to make it possible.)
Best Karate (Vol.1 ~ Vol.11) – Masatoshi Nakayama
(A ground-breaking series of technical books when they first came out, this series of books continue to be extremely insightful to all Shotokan practitioners.)
Dynamic Karate—Masatoshi Nakayama
(This book has an incredible amount of knowledge crammed into one textbook, it should be on the bookshelf of every serious practitioner.)
Karate-Do Kyohan—Gichin Funakoshi
(This is the Master Text by the founder of Shotokan Karate. Shotokan in its original form.)
Lessons with the Master: 279 Shotokan Karate Lessons with Master Hirokazu Kanazawa—Paul Walker
(Yes, this is a bit of shameless promotion of my own book about my time in Japan studying under Master Kanazawa. This book offers a blow-by-blow account of every lesson I attended and what I learned while I was there.)
Mastering Karate—Hirokazu Kanazawa
(A full DVD series that covers basic techniques, beginner and intermediate kata, and all kumite or partner work drills up to black belt. Our system of Karate.)
www.seishinshotokan.com (Our club website—There are many resources available already on our club website. Enjoy browsing through the different articles, videos and curriculum guides.)
www.youtube.com (Enter searches on Shotokan and just have fun following the different videos. Let me know what you find, it changes all the time!)
Martial Arts History and Philosophy:
The following books are all books that I have personally read and have learned something from.
Some of the books are classics in the literature world such as “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu and the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu. Other books are tailored towards our style of Shotokan such as the books by Gichin Funakoshi and Jose Fraguas.
Several of the books are focused on martial arts philosophy and etiquette such as “The Zen Way to the Martial Arts” by Taisen Deshimaru, “Spiritual Dimensions of the Martial Arts” by Michael Maliszewski and the books by Dave Lowry.
All in all there is a wealth of interesting and useful information contained within these books and the knowledge you will learn by reading some of them will definitely add to your overall Karate experience. Please enjoy!
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate—Gichin Funakoshi
Karate-Do: My Way of Life—Gichin Funakoshi
Shotokan Karate: A Precise History—Harry Cook
Bubishi: The Bible of Karate—Patrick McCarthy
Okinawan Karate—Mark Bishop
The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do—Shoshin Nagamine
Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters—Shoshin Nagamine
Karate Masters—Jose Fraguas
Shotokan Masters—Jose Fraguas
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Karate—Randall Hassell/Edmond Otis
The Martial Arts: Origins, Philosophy, Practice—Peter Lewis
Spiritual Dimensions of the Martial Arts—Michael Maliszewski
A Book of Five Rings—Miyamoto Musashi
The Zen Way to the Martial Arts—Taisen Deshimaru
The Art of War—Sun Tzu
Tao Te Ching—Lao Tzu
Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai—Yamamoto Tsunetomo
The Samurai Ethic and Modern Japan—Yukio Mishima
The Warrior Within—John Little
Moving Toward Stillness—Dave Lowry
Sword and Brush—Dave Lowry
In the list above I have tried to offer some useful reading material that can help you understand the technical aspects of our art as well as some of the historical and philosophical insights that can be gained through the practice of Karate.
In this final section I try to provide a recommended list of some other books and resources that can help you to find some balance in your overall martial arts study and that will hopefully encourage you to also look outside of the art of Shotokan in order to help you understand Shotokan and the martial arts in general.
As always if you have any questions whatsoever about my reading lists or about Karate in general please don’t hesitate to contact me and share your thoughts and opinions.
The Karate Dojo—Peter Urban
The Weaponless Warriors—Richard Kim
The Classical Man—Richard Kim
The Art of Peace—Morihei Ueshiba
Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters—John Stevens
Tao of Jeet Kune Do—Bruce Lee
Striking Thoughts—Bruce Lee
The Way to Black Belt—Kane and Wilder
Ultimate Flexibility—Sang H. Kim
Essential Anatomy—Marc Tedeschi
Year of the Chicken—Rob Redmond
Detour on the Path—Brad Jones
The Art of Chi Kung—Wong Kiew Kit
The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu—Wong Kiew Kit
The Complete Book of Zen—Wong Kiew Kit
Karate Weapon of Self-defense Series—Fumio Demura (includes nunchaku, sai, bo, tonfa)
Be sure to check out the multitude of DVDs that are now available both in DVD format and in online format (for example on YouTube).
For DVD productions check out:
Rising Sun Productions—www.risingsunproductions.net
You Tube—www.youtube.com (Do a search on Hirokazu Kanazawa for all of the kata videos you need.)