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Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1 – Nearly Ready!

Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1

Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1

There have been fewer than usual blog posts over the last 3 months. In fact the amount of shooting I’ve done has been somewhat limited. The reason is that I’ve been focused on producing the Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1.

Images from the Karate Masters Portrait Project can be seen on the web at either Facebook or Flickr. However, Karate masters and their students around the world began to ask if we could produce a print book of the project. I decided to make the kind of book that I’d like to own myself. A large, high quality, coffee-table book with images of all 58 sensei that we’d photographed.

It quickly became clear that traditional publishers would want orders of several thousand books. Book production would simply be too expensive to undertake, and too risky if I couldn’t sell all of the books. It might have even compromised the future of project as I would have had to concentrate on being a bookseller rather than a photographer.

The solution was to use the U.S. print-on-demand publisher Blurb. I could create a large (11 inch x 13 inch) 122 page book and specify the use of high quality photo paper. Each of the 58 karate masters could have two pages of images along with their name, rank, and style in both English and Japanese.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

2-page spread for Taira sensei.

I ordered a single test copy, it was shipped from the States to Okinawa. The test copy was then placed at the Dojo Bar where the karate masters were able to view it. A second test copy with higher quality paper was also ordered. This arrived and the “premium lustre” paper was a good improvement. Meanwhile James and I began contacting all the karate masters to double check the information for the book in English and Japanese, and let them know about the progress we were making with the book.

Kiyohide Shinjo

Big smile from Kiyohide Shinjo

Every karate master I talked to offered me both their permission to go ahead with the book, and a lot of encouragement.

Satoshi Kinjo, Kenta Kinjo, Masakazu Kinjo

Satoshi Kinjo, Kenta Kinjo, Masakazu Kinjo checking the book at the DOJO Bar

Tetsuhiro Hokama

Tetsuhiro Hokama showing the back cover

After making the necessary changes to the master document, I ordered another test copy of the book. This arrived in Okinawa last night. I have a meeting with James tonight to review the test copy at the DOJO Bar and then hopefully it will go on sale November 30.

It will go on sale via Blurb for 115GBP ( approximately US$180 ). I shall put up a blog post with links as soon as this happens!  I’ll also have a little more time to get back to doing what I love most – taking photos!

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Travel writer and photographer living in Okinawa, Japan


  1. Hi Chris: If you want FREE coverage in Officilkaratemag.com, send a signed review copy to Dr. Andrew Linick, Book Review Editor, Official Karate Mag, 7 Putter Lane, Middle Island, NY 11953 USA 631-924-3888. if you want to take out a 1/2 to full page ad, I will be happy to offer you a buy one get one free or 50% off the retail price so it’s affordable. I also have a results guarantee program of you are interested. Good luck, -ASL/Publisher

  2. Thanks Andrew, it would be great if you could help promote the book.

    As this is a print-on-demand book I have no free copies to give away. I can’t even offer a discount as 50% off the retail price would make it far less than the price to produce a copy of the book.

    I won’t be taking out ads in any magazines. Hopefully word will spread through people sharing the links via Facebook, or by pouring over copies of the book in dojos around the world.

    I really hope that the book is popular, but ultimately I hope the project is not judged on sales, but on how well we’ve managed to document the great kobudo and karate masters of Okinawa.

    Thanks again,


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