by T. Okazaki
Last week I received Teruyuki Okazaki’s new Limited Edition “Master Class Shotokan”, a definitive set of DVDs exploring the karate of Sensei Okazaki for ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Federation) students and the rest of the world-wide karate community alike.
I have waited in anticipation of this DVD for a while, so when the package arrived, nothing could have stopped me from tearing the package open to reveal the beautiful set within. This truly is a stunning display, presenting one of the world’s most senior Shotokan authorities, through the aesthetically amazing work of EM3 Video Productions. Within a leather fold out display, when opened, you will find six superbly crafted DVDs sitting perfectly upon black and white photographs of Sensei Okazaki and a central image of Grandmaster Gichin Funakoshi.
The 6 DVDs are entitled as following:
Punching, Striking & Blocking
Stances & Kicking
Kata Part 1
Kata Part 2
Up Close & Personal (Interview with Sensei T. Okazaki)
The week that we received this DVD set was almost perfect in timing. Three weeks prior, we here at TSW had just collaborated with Lois Luzi at the ISKF HQ to complete an Interview with Sensei Okazaki (2 Part Interview coming to TSW in the next few weeks). A week later, for the first time, Emma and I travelled to London to train with the Master himself; a first hand experience I will forever treasure. Then a week later, I received this DVD package. Good things really do come in threes, and I felt blessed to have been immersed in the energy of Sensei Okazaki.
As I watch this DVD, the magic I read about in the interview, and experienced first hand in London was brought back to me with vivid brilliance in this DVD series.
Filmed at the ISKF HQ in Philadelphia, this stylish production and beautifully shot set perfectly showcases the technical expertise of a man who is an undisputed link to the history of Shotokan Karate. This DVD, I feel, captures far more than that however…it captures the very essence of Sensei Okazaki, the magic he generates, and the very spirit of his karate.
There are very few in the world that equal Sensei Okazaki’s credentials. His place in the history books of karate is undisputed, and his influence on the development of the art is widely unparalleled. He is quite literally a ‘teacher of teachers’, responsible for helping develop the JKA Instructor Course along with Master Nakayama. This student of Gichin Funakoshi and Masatoshi Nakayama, today continues his voyage of discovery; developing and promoting the art internationally. He is a teacher who is not solely invested in developing the techniques of the art, but instead is devoted to also ensuring the development of his student’s character…continuing the work of his teachers.
This principle is very much evident here within this DVD set.
Demonstrated by Takamichi Maeshima and Hiroyoshi Okazaki, Sensei Okazaki presents a full, thorough and rounded insight into the karate of ISKF. Sensei Okazaki is keen to share his expertise, and this is very much made clear throughout the entire set. An instance of this for example can be seen when he talks about the way we should perform seiza.
He explained that seiza is directly related to the samurai tradition, and the way we kneel must coincide with the way that would enable a samurai to draw his sword whilst kneeling. Stressing the need to place the left knee first, this enables the samurai to effectively draw his sword (at his left hip) if under attack when kneeling.
Whilst his assistants demonstrate the techniques, Sensei Okazaki counts and provides detail and information. What illuminates from the screen is his passion for karate, something that never fails to make an impression. He takes you through all of the techniques by count, and the way the material is shot enables a beginner to fully see how the technique is delivered, and for more advanced karateka, to look at the smaller details and intricacies.
Some of my favourite footage on the DVDs comes from the two Kata DVDs. Once the kata are executed, and points are explained; Sensei then discusses his own personal applications to the kata. The role of kata in Sensei Okazaki’s karate is very clear, as he explains what kata can offer to a karateka. They, when studied he explains, contain much information and concepts for kumite.
Another great aspect of the DVD is the final instalment, the “Up close & personal” DVD, which contains an exclusive interview with Sensei Okazaki. Here he gives a thorough and in-depth break down of his history and experiences, whilst sharing stories that any shotokan enthusiast will love. Additionally, there is rare achieve footage that I have never personally seen before.
Sensei Okazaki is renown for his famous kicking ability, speed and accuracy. The footage here of Sensei Okazaki is wonderful and is truly inspiring. There is also footage of Master Funakoshi, Nakayama and many other BIG names of Shotokan Karate. I am sure I caught a glimpse of a very young Keinosuke Enoeda and several other karateka who later became internationally respected and sought after. Amazing Stuff!!
This DVD set is so beautiful, and filmed so stylishly. It captures the essence of Sensei Okazaki and his karate. At the end of each DVD, we are also given footage of a lesson with Sensei Okazaki at his HQ. Conveying the fascinating personality of this pioneer, the DVDs fully shows his specific approach to karate, his own personal way of giving explanations and how he works to get the best out of the class.
As I watch this footage of the lessons, it takes my mind back to the sessions I experienced in London. This I think is one of the best things about the set, that everyone is able to witness Sensei Okazaki teaching. Despite the far-reaching influence of Sensei Okazaki and ISKF, only a small percent of the karate community will ever have an opportunity to train with him. This set gives all these people an opportunity, with the benefit of playback, to see this pioneer in action.
I suppose a primary objective of this DVD is to accurately present a rounded and thorough insight into the karate of Sensei Okazaki and ISKF. This is essential, firstly for ISKF members as an invaluable visual manual to follow and study. It is essential furthermore for the wider Karate community I feel, who may not have had an opportunity to study under him and absorb a bit of his magic into their karate.
Sensei Okazaki is a man who helped develop the art within Japan, by helping produce instructors who helped spread the art throughout the world. Consequently, the karate we see internationally can easily be tracked somehow back to him.
This man is every inch the pioneer of the art, and the impact he has had on karate in the US is so vast and engulfing that it is possibly immeasurable.
This DVD set presents and accurately represents his karate and if you want to learn more about him, his karate and witness a living link to the history of Shotokan Karate, then this DVD will be invaluable.
This is a truly essential insight into Shotokan Karate of a living legend, and will undoubtedly be enjoyed and treasured by all for a lifetime. A lifetime’s work and passion captured perfectly on film!!!
Get yourself a copy and smile!
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