This is a set of nine DVDs (Te Waza, Ashi Waza, Kyu Kata, Dan Kata, Kihon, Kumite, Kancho goes to Hollywood, Interview, Ni Ju Hachi Ho) and could very well have been an excellent project. Here you have Master Kanazawa, possibly the most important Karate instructor living today. You have two excellent assistants, and a camera crew, yet somehow it just doesn’t work.
Kanazawa Sensei is flawless in these DVDs, so the criticism is not aimed at him, especially considering this wasn’t his project. The sound is bad, the filming is bad, and there are no subtitles to help the viewer. The blurb at the back of many of the DVD’s in this box set is also misleading. For example, it claims that Nijushiho is included in the Dan Kata DVD, but it isn’t.
If this collection had been led by anyone other than Kanazawa Sensei, then it would have been terrible. However, Kanazawa Sensei’s presence provides a saving grace for the set. He provides a well needed professionalism. For all of the filming faults in Mastering Karate, if you watch carefully and excuse the bad sound quality, Kanazawa Sensei provides many, many, many useful points that will most certainly help your training. I was able to make 6 A4 pages of notes - front and back - from this collection, so I feel my money was well spent.
The opening sequence to each of the DVDs shows Kanazawa Sensei performing Hangetsu, allowing you to see clearly just how brilliant a karate-ka he is, even well into his seventies. It becomes obvious, throughout all of the DVDs, that Kanazawa Sensei sincerely loves his Karate, and this alone is very inspiring.
The Collection also includes an hour-long interview with Kanazawa, and this is very useful also. He speaks good English for the most part, and most of the interview was executed with a smile on his face. Here he talks in depth about his Karate, and is very insightful.
The Kata section of the box set is also quite useful, for you get to understand the teachings and alterations of Kanazawa’s Karate, and provide a useful contrast in your thinking that may fuel your own thoughts and ideas. What is also quite unique is the fact that the DVDs are filmed very much like Kanazawa Sensei is teaching a karate class, so it’s quite informal and light-hearted, and again you see Kanazawa Sensei’s personality shines through.
If you buy this box set for the filming qualities, you may be terribly frustrated, but if you purchase the set to learn from the master, then this does not disappoint.