Motobu was a Japanese karateka from Akahira Village in Shuri, Okinawa. His father, Lord Motobu Chosin was a descendant of the sixth son of the Okinawan King, Sho Shitsu (1655-1687). As the last of three sons, Motobu was not entitled to an education in his family’s style of Te (an earlier name for karate). Despite this, Motobu was very interested in the art, spending much of his youth training on his own, hitting the makiwara and pushing and lifting heavy stones to increase his strength. He is reported to have been very agile, which gained him the nickname Motobu no Saru or “Motobu the Monkey”. He began practicing karate under Matsumura and continued under Itosu.
Motobu gained fame and reputation from his numerous fights and brawls and was the first karate practitioner to defeat a Western boxer.