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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Jion: Forging the Blade

Another excellent offering by Mark Carroll, Jion: Forging the Blade takes a well known and well loved (by most people other than me!) kata and encourages a new and innovative approach to studying the intrinsic techniques and applications within the kata.

We have reviewed previous DVDs by Mark Carroll, including Kanku Sho, and a point that never fails to be mentioned is the innovative use of the street kata. This DVD does not disappoint, and having used/stolen this technique in my Dojo, I can tell you that as strange and ugly as it may look, the reality of the katas become evident in a way that no bunkai, discussion or teaching can make clear.

The simplicity of the DVDs are a definite plus point. They are obviously not studio produced, and whilst studio produced DVDs are slick and are often very pretty to look at, you have to ask yourself why you indeed buy Kata DVDs. Is it not to gain an understanding of the kata, and to see the approaches of others? To gain more information and learn something?


Without a doubt, this DVD achieves all of those objectives. I’ve had a strong dislike for Jion for quite some time now, it does not suit me, and there is most certainly no love lost between us, but even I was fascinated by Carrol’s approach to the kata, and will even have a go of Jion street style. That’s a pretty big accomplishment, considering I can happily ignore this kata as much as humanly possible!

This DVD was filmed on a three day course at the St Ives Shotokan Karate Club, and I have mentioned previously that the manner in which the DVDs are filmed as a taught session is a very successful approach. We see the ideas and techniques taught in real-time and there are no swift edits if something goes wrong or doesn’t work for someone. It is as interactive as DVDs can get in this manner, as we are almost the fly on the wall. It means that we almost feel a part of the class and can get a genuine feel for each of the elements of the drills for the kata.

The DVD focuses not only on the technical aspects of the kata but on applying the key movements and techniques, such as urazuki, osotogari and sanbon tsuki. Pads are used very effectively to check for correct technique and generation of power and efficiency for key techniques and combinations in the kata. The sequences are applied in various manners, in their most basic forms, a more freestyle approach, and then finally with as much realism as possible, including swearing, shoving and as many ways of getting the adrenaline pumping as possible, linking in to the final performance of the street kata. 

All in all, another successful kata DVD by Carroll, offering opportunity to stretch and develop your attitudes and ideas for the effective performance and understanding of Jion.


Emma Robins