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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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In Funakoshi’s Footsteps
J. Van Weenan

I had never really been a fan of V.Weenan’s work, I don’t know why, but I just never really clicked with his textbooks. Stupid I know.

I’m sure he’s excellent, especially considering the fact that he was one of Kanazawa Sensei’s main students, but I could never really relate to his books, not like I could with instructors like Dave Hazard or many other instructors whose books I own.

However, this book – his autobiography - is quite excellent. It’s well written, and there are some wonderful photographs. The best parts of the book are the parts concerning the JKA instructors, and Sensei Weenan is quite frank about some of the instructors such as Yahara Sensei, who he thinks is a bully and a thug. Credit to the guy for being so outspoken. You also get a very real sense of compassion, particularly concerning his relationship with Master Kanazawa. You can clearly see the level of respect he has for his Sensei.

Also quite poignant is the section where he talks – although not really Karate related – about his trips and his charity work. He tells some quite moving stories about the sights he’s witnessed, and you grow to appreciate the compassion of the man, as well as the Karate-Ka.

This is a good book in the sense that you can gain an insight into many of the world’s most famous Karate instructors. He also gives an insight into the darker side of the JKA, and the less talked about issues, so if you don’t want shattered dream about the JKA instructors being demi-god-like, then give this a miss.

But, if you want an honest and frank account of a mans experiences, then read this book, for I’m sure you’ll enjoy his memoirs of his trips to Japan, and his training alongside some of Britain’s greatest Karate-ka.

Gareth Lewis

Date: 14/07/06