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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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In recent years, many organisations have started putting together DVDs useful in helping students with their development. While many people think that giving the student this information can be detrimental to their development – because they look ahead rather than working on what is required at the time – I feel that by providing students with easy-access to what they’re likely to experience in the future training – this creates an open atmosphere which encourages development.


This DVD package ‘Shotokan Grading Guide and Syllabus’ by John Hanratty has been designed for his students as a way of helping them develop. I call it a DVD package because this is more than a simple DVD. In fact, it comes in the form of a Booklet/DVD package. The book section gives much useful, informative material such as the history of the karate belt but also a ‘Basic Karate Vocabulary’ section which is certainly useful to all beginners, covering: commands, stances, blocks, punches, strikes, kicks, counting, miscellaneous. The book concludes with the written form of the grading syllabus and space for karateka notes.


This DVD covers 9th Kyu – Shodan, with John Hanratty (Canadian Shotokan Karate Association) acting as the hands-on narrator. This DVD is well demonstrated by one of Hanratty’s senior students, who covers all of the grading requirements; kihon, kata and kumite.


This DVD is very professionally made, with terrific sound and quality of set up. The footage from front and side views gives the beginner student the best possible options to use this DVD, and this makes it all the more useful to the student.


The purpose of these Grading Syllabus DVDs is obviously to aid student development. It lets the student know what is directly required for each grade, which in turn will hopefully breed a real sense of confidence in the student. Also very important is that this DVD can be used as a resource for the CSKA’s students who can reference the DVD when they get stuck or need some pointers.


What I found particularly useful inside the booklet to accompany the DVD is the Instructor notes within the Grading Syllabus. Highlighted in red are some notes directed to the instructors of the CSKA. Examples are ‘Watch for knee dropping between kicks’, ‘Encourage sweeps, also note, no kiai no pass’ and ‘watch for hip movements on the blocks’. This to the instructors of CSKA will be very useful.


This package is perfectly designed for members of the CSKA as it directly highlights the syllabus and gives specific pointers for them. As other organisations often differ however, I doubt this will be of use to non-members of CSKA as there are only a few technical pointers relevant to all karateka. As I was watching it I kept in mind the fact that this is a syllabus and not an educational DVD so I shouldn’t review it as such.


This is a worthwhile DVD package for CSKA Karate as it’s a well-produced and well put-together piece of material.