38. Once then this author (Nakata) visited Motobu Sensei at Hongo Esa-machi, he said “Hey Nakata, you came just in time. If you can break this board from one inch away, I’ll give you all the awamori you can shake a stick at.” He indicated the board hanging from the eaves of the veranda of the restaurant (which doubled as his dojo). Upon close inspection I determined that the rectangular pine board was 2 feet wide, 3 feet long and about 2 inches thick. A hole was drilled in it about 2 inches from the top, right in the center, through which a sturdy string was passed, in order to hang it from the rafters. I thought it to be impossible, but did as I was told and stood on the veranda, bringing my right fist about an inch away from the board, my left fist next to my right fist. Uttering a little prayer, I thrust at the board. Far from breaking, it merely bounced away with a loud sound, and all I got from the experience was a sore fist.
I fail to recall exactly who it was, but another student was also present, and he tried after I did. However, no matter how many times he tried, the board merely bounced off his fist with a resounding noise. Motobu Sensei stood up in front of the board and said “Watch closely.” He brought his fist to a distance to not even one inch from the board, and in the next instant, uttered a kia that sounded like “fit” and thrust at the board, which broke vertically through the center, falling to the ground in two neat pieces.
COLLECTION OF SAYINGS BY MOTOBU CHOKI By Nakata Mizuhiko, Overseen by Marukawa, 1978 Translation © 2001 by Joe Swift