This is not only a book about Shotokan, it is just much more!
Besides the penetrating commentary by Massimo Braglia on history, kata, pioneers, culture etc, best of all is the exhaustive study the author’s completed into kata: just incredible. The work is a remarkably unique work for the depth of the author’s research, the extent of sources cited, the organised method in which it is laid out along, the meticulousness of both his observations and deductions that I feel are so considerably impressive. Mr. Braglia’s obviously done a remarkable job and I am confident that this monumental undertaking will be widely respected by all those able to think outside the box.
I most sincerely hope its book will not only help bring about a deeper and wider understanding of the art in general, but also a much-needed shift in mindset about the functional application of kata practices!
Patrick McCarthy, 9th Dan, IRKRS Founder and Director
“If I were you, I would prepare to replace the legends which have often been told to you with the precise and accurate information that the Master Massimo Braglia has gathered with absolute dedication in years of diligent work. I am sure that this book will become a point of reference for all Karate lovers!”
Paolo Bolaffio, 9th Dan, founder of Makotokai System and Style.
First of all, this is a beautiful book. A first wandering through the pages shows that it is a must have for every Shotokan Karate practitioner with an interest in the historical development and background of the Shotokan style. The pictures and illustrations create a vivid atmosphere for the rich and sometimes complex content of this book.
There are several ways this book stands out in martial arts literature, not only by design but even more by its content. First there is the massive amount of information gathered and sources used. Beginning with a broad perspective on martial arts history, narrowing it down when specific kata or forms are studied in the latter chapters. To trace the origins, symbolism and meaning of the Shotokan style, there is not only reference to what is passed down through generations of karate masters, the author has done thorough research, studying and integrating the geographical, historical and cultural background of the development of martial arts and (the contributions to) the origins of the Shotokan style to be specific. Second, and this is what I liked very much about this book, the author provides us with his critical approach to the amount of information available. In martial arts literature it is common that a certain “truth” in storytelling is represented, when the origins of movements or kata are being discussed. Sometimes this results in either a great loyalty towards the masters who pass down their heritage, including their “historical” teachings (and there is nothing wrong with that). Sometimes it results in a rather creative way of “bridging the gaps” in information. Mr. Braglia has a profound critical approach, with great respect for the different masters and their teachings, but at the same time unafraid to confront divergent data. Sometimes the book can be read as a detective story, searching for pieces of that cultural/historical puzzle, struggling with those pieces that don’t seem to fit, and not giving up the search.
Another way of reading the book, is to take on the individual chapters on the Shotokan kata to support the daily practice by an understanding of the kata in depth. Understanding the linking between the present known Shotokan kata and techniques, and the historical origins in Chinese and Okinawan martial arts, combined with the clarification of symbolism and scripture, can be very important in studying applications of our techniques in kata. Again the book provides us with so much information to discriminate between what is “creative interpretation” (and again: there is nothing wrong with that) or historical erring, and what makes sense in a historical and “stick-to-the-facts” perspective.
I think karate practitioners, instructors and students alike, who seek to add a more profound understanding to their technical training, will enjoy this book very much. If a concluding qualification should be stated, I would say “highly recommended!”
Bart Laps, 4th Dan SKIF, Antwerp, Belgium
“This is a tremendous work from Massimo Braglia so much research and effort into its production. A veritable encyclopedia!”
Richard Amos, 7th Dan, WTKO World Chief Instructor
In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” Robert M. Pirsig talked about our innate ability to recognize quality. We don’t have to be experts to reveal in the artistry of the great and good. Pick up a copy of Massimo Braglia’s “The Shotokan Stylistic System” and you can instantly recognise the quality. You can literally feel the weight of decades of research that has produced the definitive guide to our beloved system. However, it is much more that a look at Shotokan. The book weaves and binds the delicate tapestry of martial history into one complete work. Discover the origins of each kata and at the same time learn much more about how our refined style came about. I think this book should be the jewel in the crown of any serious martial artist as it goes well beyond the limitations of what we call Shotokan.
Scott Langley, WTKO GB & Ireland Technical Director
Congratulations on the book! It’s the most beautiful Karate book I’ve ever read. A true work of art! I love it.
Jesse Enkamp Sensei, blogger of Karate NerdTM
This is an EXCELLENT work from Sensei Massimo. Congratulations for such an amazing and fascinating book! I recommend everyone in any karate style should have in their martial arts library.
Allen Tanzadeh, Shitoryu Canada, Founder & Technical Director
Recently I purchased and received “The Shotokan Stylistic System” by Massimo Braglia. As an avid reader I have massed a collection of books throughout my Karate life, I would humbly say that my collection is both diverse of topics and vast with few equals. I have spent a fortune acquiring books that are extremely difficult to find. Some of the books I have ordered are far more expensive and perhaps their value is in their rarity or age. While these other books are wonderful and a valued keepsake unfortunately the content does not equal the price tag. This book however probably should be valued higher and when you consider you will be using it as a resource far into the future it makes the decision easier. I can honestly say that the book by Mr. Braglia contains an enormous amount of material and research. Highly recommended groundbreaking book for all those interested in understanding Shotokan on higher levels.
Scott Middleton, WTKO Canada National Director
I have taken a little time before writing something about this book “The Shotokan Stylistic System” by Sensei Massimo Braglia, and I am still in the process of reading it, but from what I have read so far I can say that I have never seen such a complete work on the Shotokan system, years of work have resulted in a fascinating book that everyone should have in their library, a truly outstanding piece of work!
Alan Campbell, JKS England Chief Instructor
I am very impressed with the book, I can imagine the many years of work that went into putting it together. I have many people who have seen the book and said how beautiful it is and most importantly how deep the research must have been to arrive at the information you have written. Your book is so very comprehensive that I may spend another lifetime studying it. Bravo, I love it and have made many people jealous when they see the beautiful book.
Frank Brocato, JKA Atlanta, Georgia, USA
This is certainly a good book. Cured in graphics, choice of paper and in the care of the conformation. If we want to find a mole can find it in the excessive weight or size, perhaps divide the work in two volumes would facilitate transport and consultation, but it’s a detail. Beyond some typographical error, the exposure will be very precise, detailed and understandable and suggests particular care in scholarly research and documentation (as existing and available) … I offer my congratulations to the author for the work.
Master Ilio Semino
Personally I find this book very interesting and comprehensive, a work that more than complete that down not only the origins and developments of the Shotokan Kata, but deal also in a specific and detailed the origins of karate with big-time historical-cultural and precious references essential to know this wonderful discipline. A work in my opinion extremely useful for any karateka, a real reference book to read, consult and discover in all its beauty.
Master Stefano Lombardi
Wow! The picture I’ve taken does the book no justice what so ever, it’s a stunning book and it’s huge! You will definitely need to be sat a table or have someone else hold it for you as you read. It’s not just for the Shotokan practitioner either, it’s the complete Karate history, I don’t know where to start!
I recommend to all this wonderful and important book, “The Shotokan Stylistic System” which in my opinion, every karateka should read, is very attractive.
Shihan Angelo Tosto
I have not read entirely the book by Massimo Braglia because I consult it only in the parts to wich I’m interested in that moment. So I think not the best person to make it a proper review. Conversely, I’m talking about a monumental work that can hardly be read as you read a book any because, in my opinion, should be considered a point of reference to be consulted before proposing a targeted study of a particular kata.
Master Franco Rinaldi
A very interesting book, at least for those who are lovers of the history of karate.
Master Bruno da Boit
I wish to thank you and congratulate you for your work, really well done, thorough and valuable, a tool that I use daily for my research and to make my lessons more solid. Really a great job!
Master Paolo Ornaghi
A beautifully crafted, well researched and referenced book albeit a great tome of a book!
I highly recommend the book of Master Massimo Braglia! A unique work of its kind, detailed and full of arguments! A book to have for all fans of martial arts in general, a true example of love for them! Congratulations to the author!
Master Andrea Bonfatti
I have to say it is the best karate book I have, it fulfills all my expectations in terms on history, technique, philosophy and edition. Congratulations for the great job done!
I read the book of the master Braglia and it’s amazing how I’ve absorbed! It is like to talk and listen directly the author. He clarified many obscure points and when I got to the end (unfortunately) I wanted even more information! It is a very interesting read and that I recommend to all karate students regardless of style or method.
I got the book, I began to browse it and I must say it is a real treasure of karate. It covers all meaning aspects: History, technique, philosophy. A text so full missed me and definitely will be an important source of learning along the way that I’m walking.