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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Brennan - A Profile

Legend TV Productions

I received this DVD along with ‘The Ultimate Aim.’ I was at a loss. Which one shall I watch first? I have always been very impressed by Frank Brennan, not simply because of his fantastic fighting style, but because of his humble attitude.

With many karateka who have achieved a high level of success, there’s a degree of ego. When you hear Brennan speak however, there’s no chip on his shoulder, he’s simply modest and sincere. You get a very real appreciation of his attitude and fighting spirit’ in one fight in particular showing his opponent punching him on the chin after yame. These days, if this was to happen the fighter would be rolling around in agony trying to get the opponent disqualified. Instead, Brennan takes it, accepts his opponent’s apology and wins the fight in the most respectful manner.

This DVD looks into much of Brennan’s career, looking at his training, his influences, and his successes. On thing however that is obvious throughout the entire DVD is exactly how talented Brennan was. All too often these days we see fighters who, when put in a position where their actual karate technique is put up to the test, they cannot cut the mustard. We often see people who can fight with brilliant speed, but don’t actually do any real type of karate training except for competition. This is the exact opposite however with Brennan. It is made very clear throughout the DVD that competition was not his goal, but rather an outcome. This is both very inspiring, but does make you wonder where karate is heading in the future.

Brennan is recognised primarily as a fighter. There is excellent footage of him performing Gojushiho Sho, Nijushiho and Sochin. If you watch his face in the footage, you can see the passion, commitment and focus, and the power he could create was phenomenal. This is very important footage, because as I have already mentioned, it does illustrate exactly how dynamic he was, and he was not just a fighter, he was a karateka.

            There is excellent footage of Andy Sherry and Brennan in the dojo, I assume training for a competition, and you can see the impact Sherry had on Brennan’s fighting style. I was particularly impressed seeing Sherry launching lighting speed gyaku-tsuki (something he was famed for), and you get a very real sense of how well tuned these karateka are.

One very impressive thing about this DVD is the fact that it includes many full-length fights. This I feel is important, because with fighters like Brennan it helps to see exactly how he fights, and how he initially judges his opponent and how he tests the water in each bout. Although these fights are decades old, I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation. When I heard ‘Wazari’, I was also struck with a real sense of nostalgia.

When you watch these fights, as mentioned so accurately in the narration, Brennan was not just fighting for a point, he was fighting for his life. This was the mentality of ippon shobu fighting, and you can see the tension and nervous energy that has in many ways been lost in competition today.

I think this DVD is very useful. Although there is limited narration, you can learn a great deal from just watching this man fight. Half way through, I realised I wasn’t making notes. Not because I was bored, but because I was so encapsulated in the anticipation and excitement of the fight. That’s the point I suppose. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this DVD, and I feel people will be watching this and studying them for years to come.

Mark Thompson

30/08/06

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