|“||I am sorry that I did not catch up to your steps until today. To experience your loneliness.||”|
– Motobe to Musashi Miyamoto.
Izou Motobe (本部 以蔵, Motobe Izō) is a fictional character from anime and manga series of Baki the Grappler. He is an old Japanese jujutsu master. In the first series, Motobe starts training Baki for his fight. He once lost to Yuujiro and now develops new techniques to use in a fight.
Motobe Izou is an old Japanese jujutsu master. He is a calm and pretty gloomy person who rarely shows any excitement. At one time, he seemed to have more of an obsession with defeating Yuujiro Hanma than most martial artists, but he has never shown to be a match for him. In the further manga series, this obsession probably began to decline because Motobe has perhaps realized he could never defeat the Ogre.
He is a very intelligent person who has a great knowledge about the world of martial arts. He often watches fights and offers insight on unusual techniques being used. He is a kind of a combat pragmatist. For example, when Ryuukou Yanagi started to spinning his kusarigama during their fight, Motobe just went next to some monkey bars, causing Yanagi to cease his spinning when he realizes he can't swing without getting his chain tangled and giving Motobe the opportunity to attack.
In the fourth manga series, he turns out to have many heroic and caring qualities in himself. He wanted to defeat Musashi Miyamoto to protect all the other fighters, and he even advised Yuujiro not to fight him. His words didn't end with a claptrap. Motobe actually challenged Musashi to a duel. When he defeated the great samurai, he added: "most importantly, I have to protect you, Mister Musashi". He referred in this situation to the solitude of the great samurai, claiming that his strength separates him from other people. So it can be said that Motobe turns out to be a very empathic man in many scenes, even though he almost always has a cold and even kind of bored face expression without much emotions. His concern for other people can also be seen when Doppo Orochi fought Yuujiro Hanma. He even screamed from the audience for Doppo to surrender for his own safety. Another example is the relationship between Motobe and Junichi Hanada. He was worried about him even when Hanada disregarded and left his dojo.
Also, it can be said that Izou Motobe is a person who often has different fixations in life. Previously, he was obsessed with defeating Yuujiro Hanma, and then he began to have a great desire to protect all characters from Musashi Miyamoto.
Izou Motobe is a medium tall man with a stocky body. His figure is not as carved as most of the players in the series. He wears long grey hair pulled back, revealing his forehead (his hairstyle is a bit like that of Yuujiro). His eyes are brown. He always wears a medium facial hair, although it is never a typical moustache or beard. Only in the first two seasons of anime he had more facial hair than in manga.
He's usually dressed in ordinary clothes. He wears a short men's coat, common white t-shirt and classic long pants. During battles, Motobe always wears his martial arts outfit. His battle clothes resemble more traditional Aikido outfits, even though Motobe's fighting style is jujutsu. In the first two seasons of anime, Motobe is wearing traditional Japanese martial arts outfit all the time.
Baki the Grappler
Underground Arena Saga
For the first time, Motobe appears at the Shinshinkai Karate tournament in the Budoukan arena. He comes there with his disciple to see the final fight in which Baki Hanma fight Atsushi Suedou. At first, Motobe focuses more on smoking his cigarette somewhere in the back of the audience than on watching the tournament finals, calling the fight a "childish quarrel". However, eventually the match makes that Baki Hanma arouses his interest. When the final fight comes to an end, Motobe and his student come to Baki's locker-room. They also meet there with Kiyosumi Katou, a young karateka who also decided to meet Baki. However, the young karate tournament winner is fed up with all that fuss and runs away. A tense situation begins to form between Motobe and Katou and they almost starts a fight, but then they are interrupted by Doppo Orochi, the grandmaster of Shinshinkai and Motobe's friend. However, the old jujutsu master does not welcome him with a nice attitude. Motobe criticizes Doppo and states that he could kill him in a moment, claiming that karateka is no longer a serious fighter. Then Motobe leaves with his pupil.
In the anime series, his first meeting with Baki looks different. They meet for the first time in the corridor of the Underground Arena after the fight with Koushou Shinogi. Doppo, Katou and Mitsunari Tokugawa also take part in the scene. Motobe looks at Baki, says that he does not notice the similarity (between Baki and Yuujiro) and goes away. There is also a theme in which Tokugawa wonders whether to make Motobe another opponent of Baki.
Tokugawa chooses Junichi Hanada for the next opponent of Baki Hanma. It turns out that Hanada is a former Motobe's student. The old master cares about him and wants him to return to his dojo, so he asks Kurokawa, the sambo master, to beat Hanada and persuade him to return to the dojo. Unfortunately, Hanada easily defeats Kurokawa at the Tokugawa's household.
When Baki finds out that his new opponent is a former Motobe's student, he decides to go to the old jujutsu master and ask for training. Motobe agrees and decides to prepare Baki to fight Hanada. In the meantime, the two of them are beginning to build a friendly relationship with each other. Motobe tells Baki how strong Hanada is and they talks about Yuujiro Hanma, Baki's father. Eventually, it turns out that Tokugawa changed his plans for Baki's next opponent and one day Motobe and Baki find at the dojo a brutally beaten Hanada, who tells them that he was beaten by the "big man" and then loses consciousness. It turns out that this person was Mount Toba, which Tokugawa changed to Baki's opponent. Motobe goes with the young champion to the arena as his seconds. Then Motobe witnesses Tokugawa setting up a fight between Doppo Orochi and Yuujiro Hanma, who unexpectedly appeared in the arena after Baki's match. When Motobe and Baki intend to leave the arena, they meet Hanada in the hallway, who congratulates the champion on his victory and tells Motobe that he plans to create his own jujutsu style.
A few days later, Izou Motobe meets Yuujiro Hanma on the street. The old master tells him he felt jealous when he found out that Yuujiro is gonna fight Doppo. It turns out that once Motobe fought Yuujiro and lost. The old master tells him that he has been preparing for a rematch for years and is now going to challenge him. The fighters decide to have a fight in a nearby park. Their battle begins with a surprise attack of Motobe. There is a short exchange of blows between the fighters, but Motobe manages to block every blow that Yuujiro takes. The "strongest creature in the world" decides to "reward" him for all the effort he has put into preparing for the rematch and pulls his fist out towards Motobe, telling him that he can freely try to use any grappling technique against him. Motobe feels disregarded and angry, letting himself be provoked and throwing himself aggressively at Yuujiro. After all, even though Motobe is doing his best, Yuujiro knocks him out easily, hitting him on the ground in jujutsu style. Later, Motobe comes to the Underground Arena to watch Doppo and Yuujiro battle, as well as Baki fight Kureha Shinogi. In the meantime, he is commenting the fights and explaining various techniques to Hanada, who is sitting next to him. In the anime series, Kiyosumi Katou is sitting next to him instead of Hanada.
Maximum Tournament Saga
Izou Motobe is taking part in the Maximum Tournament. His opponent in the first round is Kinryuuzan, great sumo yokozuna (the title of sumo grand master). Before the duel starts, he tells Baki and Hanada it's his birthday today. Motobe is turning 50 that day. When the battle begins, Kinryuuzan brutally strikes Motobe against the ground at the very beginning, but the old master does not yet decide to give up. He uses his Finger-Grab technique against sumo wrestler's little finger and tries to break it, but he fails. Then he starts attacking him with punches and kicks, but it doesn't have much effect. Eventually, Kinryuuzan beats him with a Inner Thigh Throw and a Stomp from above. A moment before he loses consciousness, Motobe unties Kinryuuzan's famous sumo bun to hurt a pride of the grand master of sumo wrestling.
After he is defeated by Kinryuuzan at the Maximum Tournament, he acts as a pseudo ringside commentator during most of the tournament. During this time it appears Kiyosumi Katou and Baki Hanma also commentate alongside him pointing out different techniques wondering how they work and even guessing at the other fighters intentions with specific techniques.
Motobe and Hanada comes to Gouki Shibukawa's locker-room before his match with Jack Hammer. They offers to the grand jujutsu master that they will escort him to the ring to show respect and culture. Shibukawa, who senses subconsciously the danger, stumbles before their eyes. Motobe is surprised and finds it very rare to see master Shibukawa in such a situation.
Most Evil Death Row Convicts Saga
After the tournament, Motobe begins to use kenjitsu and later challenges the convict Ryuukou Yanagi to a duel. They fight until Yuujiro shows up.
Motobe is a very skilled martial artist. He is also one of the most pragmatic warriors in the series. While Motobe is, by the beginning of Baki-Dou, considered by almost all the main characters to be one of the weakest fighters among them, he quickly demonstrates that his skill as a warrior ranks him near the top. It's thanks to his high combat intellect that he is able to stand up to monsters like Jack Hanma and Musashi Miyamoto. He easily bests Baki Hanma in a one on one, though he says that if he had struck with intent to kill Baki would have reacted more quickly. He also manages to escape from Yuujiro, the latter in a flying rage.
Motobe is physically weaker than most of the other fighters, so he is bound to lose in a fair fight. Like the death row convicts, he is heavily weapon-reliant. While Izou isn’t the greatest hand-to-hand fighter in the way that the Maximum Tournament required, when you put Izou in a pure fight where there are no rules and anything and any weapon goes, Izou is incredibly deadly. Despite Ryuukou Yanagi knocking out and poisoning Baki as well as going toe to toe with Gouki, he was easily defeated and nearly killed by Izou. Motobe is more like a warrior instead of being a fighter. He using traditional Japanese weapons to fight, such as shurikens, wooden sword, tanto, brass knuckle and kusarigama, he even using a smoke bomb to make a surprise attack. Motobe wears a chain mail made of aramid fibers, which is made for plane and car's tire. He is also very strong, as he could make a throw just by grabbing Musashi's leg. He could defeat Musashi Miyamoto by using a choke hold despite being cut in his right arm and both of his legs.
- Armlock – used against Yuujiro Hanma, Kaiou Retsu and Jack Hanma.
- Finger-Grab – used against Kinryuuzan.
- Dropkick – used against Jack Hanma.
- Tackle– used once against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Headbutt – used against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Rear Naked Choke – used against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Bite - used against himself during his fight against Musashi Miyamoto.
- The character is probably based on the real-life Japanese martial artist Seishi Horibe.