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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Best Karate Volumes 5-11 

M. Nakayama

Best Karate Volume 5 – Heian Kata, Tekki Kata

Best Karate Volume 6 – Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai

Best Karate Volume 7 – Jitte, Hangetsu, Empi

Best Karate Volume 8 – Gankaku, Jion

Best Karate Volume 9 – Bassai Sho, Kanku Sho, Chinte

Best Karate Volume 10 – Unsu, sochin, nijushiho

Best Karate Volume 11 – Gojushiho Sho, Gojushoho Dai, Meikyo

These books are the definitive Kata books for Shotokan Karate. These are books I have often referenced, and despite that over time, minor details have changed concerning the Kata, these books remain important to this day.

With the top JKA Karateka, such as Osaka, Tanaka, Asai, Yahara, Ueki, and many more performing the Kata, you cannot be anything but be inspired by these pioneers.

However, despite how fantastic these books are, they do have their limitations. Firstly, Wankan and Ji-in are missing, and to those organisations that still practice them, this is quite unfortunate.

Secondly, despite the technical commentary that accompanies the photographs, I feel a little more information would have made them a little more useful. For example, Hangetsu is a kata that places primary emphasis on the breathing, and accurate breathing in this Kata is an integral part what makes the kata effective. However, it does state in the blurb that breathing is vital, although it doesn’t provide information of how to breathe during the Kata. This is probably due to space, but the text does provide few details. They provide the names of the technique and a little information such as how the hips are used in each instance. Nevertheless, despite the limitation of text, these books are very useful, particularly for the more advanced students who know the skeleton, but who want to look at the finer details of the Kata.

Nevertheless, the Kata are excellently executed, and so are the applications, which are very practical and useful, and through the applications, the purpose of each Kata becomes all the more understood and appreciated.

I do love these books, and despite their limits, they must be in your collection if you are to fully understand where Kata has come from, and the comparison to how Karate is today. They are also a good reference if you need to analyse how each movement work.

At times, the angles of the camera can be a little awkward, so you don’t always necessarily get the maximum information from each photograph. This is rare though, and for the most part the books are very helpful.

For each of the Kata – with an exception of Heian and Tekki – comes the timing of the Kata. This is easily illustrated through the key at the beginning of the book, so can be easily followed.

If you were going to buy any collection of Kata books to assist your kata training, the Best Karate series would be it. This is the definitive collection for all Karateka, JKA or not.

Mark Thompson

Date: 7/6/2006