KARATE-DO KATA 5-HEIAN 2-TEKKI
18 KATA SUPÉRIEURS SHOTOKAN RYU
by Taiji Kase
Training in Wales, there was little/no exposure to Japanese instructors during my youth. Due to political fracturing, Welsh karate - during my lifetime - was never under Japanese leadership.
I had heard many stories of the Japanese instructors through the grapevine however, of the likes of Senseis Kanazawa, Enoeda, Kawasoe and Shirai. One instructor however that I heard many people mention was Sensei Taiji Kase. His time in Wales was extremely limited, but through my time within the Karate Union of Wales – under the leadership of Sensei Mike O’Brien – I grew to understand the lasting influence he had on the karate being taught in Wales.
Sensei O’Brien would place huge emphasis on the breathing, the open hand techniques and use of Fudo-dachi; all specialties of Sensei Kase. Therefore, my training within the KUW, and the grading syllabus I followed (specifically at brown and black belt) was evidently Kase influenced.
Many stories circled around Sensei Kase, and I was determined I would someday train with him. Just as I was passing my driving test however, he was unfortunately taken from the world, and I was never able to train with him.
I did learn of two kata books that he had put together however, and I was both eager and determined to get a hold of them…just to have a visual insight into his karate.
Now, before I progress any further, I must note that these books are written in French. Therefore, unless you are fluent, these books will not be a ‘sit down in front of a warm fire’ kind of books. Instead, I use them as references when studying kata.
In my book collection, I have been able to amass books that provide a range of perspectives. I have kata books by Nakayama, Kanazawa, and wide range of other Japanese and Western karateka, and I reference them often. I love making technical comparisons, as doing so helps educate me deeper on the kata.
These Kata books aren’t written in detail, not that I could understand them, in spite of studying GCSE French. But truth be told, the pictures do all of the talking. Throughout the Kata books, Sensei Kase demonstrates all of the kata in his unique way, and the movements are also applied.
Something I always found fascinating about Sensei Kase was his unique ability to make the karate he practiced unique to him. Today we have a city of generics, with every karateka looking and moving in the same way. Whilst standardisation is essential in order to ensure a degree of continuity of traditional practice, it can also turn dojos into factory lines of sorts. Sensei Kase however was truly unique, and had functionality, a power and a spirit wholly exclusive to himself.
His demonstrations throughout the books are impeccable, and make reference incredibly easy. Sometimes, being perhaps a karate nerd, I find the simplicity of looking at pictures quite inspiring, particularly when the movements within are being demonstrated with a clear attitude and ability. The picture quality is also excellent, which is very useful. For these reason, I love the books.
Conversely however, the books are not technical in the information they impart. Even if I was a fluent French speaker, I don’t think the books would be any more informative.
If you are looking to build a karate library – which I have been doing since I was aged 15 – I would say these books should have a place on the shelves. Interestingly, when engaged in a recent debate regarding a movement in Heian Nidan, I referenced these kata books, to make my point that there are indeed minor technical differences between the senior Japanese instructors.
If you are looking for a reading book, keep your money in your pocket. But if you want a useful reference, and an alternative visual perspective perhaps to the karate you practice, these books could be useful and educational.