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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Richard Amos 6th Dan WTKO is highly regarded by many as one of the most respected and sought after shotokan instructors in the world. After watching and reviewing Volumes 1 and 2 of his “Shotokan Mastery” series, I was so eager to get a look at volume 3, and it did not disappoint.

Richard Amos undoubtedly has a very rich karate background. This is so clear when we see the final credits of the DVD where he thanks those whom he considers his teachers: Keigo Abe, Tetsuhiko Asai, Steve Ubl and Mikio Yahara. Needless to say, with such a background you would expect nothing short of excellence. Richard Amos, is most definitely excellent, and this DVD series wonderfully showcases not only his own personal skill, but his deep knowledge and understanding.

All of the above mentioned points have made Richard Amos an instructor in demand, and when he is not teaching at his WTKO Hombu Dojo – the location of the DVD’s filming – he is travelling giving seminars, promoting and helping to develop karate around the world. In many ways, he has helped put an eloquent word to the art through in-depth explanation. These DVDs are the perfect reference for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of not only Richard Amos’ karate, but shotokan karate full stop.

Within this DVD:

 

Oi-zuki

Gyaku-zuki

Gedan-barai, Gyaku-zuki

Age-uke, Mae-geri

Soto-uke, Enpi

Shuto-uke, Nukite

Uchi-uke, Gyaku-zuki

Mae-geri

Mae-geri, Oi-zuki

Yoko-geri-keage

Yoko-geri-kekomi

Mawashi-geri

Shuto-uchi-jodan

 

Kihon ippon kumite

 

Heian Yondan

Heian Godan

 

I believe I commented in the review of volume 1 that repetitive strain injury may be closely linked with the note making process of watching these DVDs, and volume 3 is no exception. This, again, is full of detail and useful training drills that will make for essential viewing.

From the perspective of a student, be it a beginner or even the more advanced karateka, you will find much within this DVD that you will be able to go away and chew on. For the beginner, there is of course the excellent example of form, which can be used as a training aid and for effective personal research. Layered so well however, this DVD is as useful to the more seasoned karateka. There are blatant points being made, through Richard’s narration, that will help the advanced karateka further refine their understanding of movement and the basic karate techniques and principles. Whilst many of these points will go over the heads of beginner students, they will be perfect for the advanced karateka to think about and use to develop their own karate.

This is reinforced further in my opinion by the exercises that are demonstrated to assist with certain techniques.  For the beginner, advanced and especially the instructors out there, this will be very useful. There are three training drills that stand out in my opinion as particularly useful; one for stepping gyaku-zuki, one for mae-geri and one for mawashi-geri. I don’t think it’s fair to detail exactly what these exercises consist of, as if you would like to learn more about them then buy the DVD, but I will say that I liked them very much.

In fact, I have taken these drills to my own dojo and they are have been very useful, and I will continue without doubt to use them in the future.

At one point in the DVD, he states that in karate we should be ‘Moving from thinking... to feeling’. For many, this point could easily be overlooked, but I think this is a very potent comment, one to really think about. There’s the tendency for karateka to really over-intellectualise their karate. Having a thought process is essential to encourage development, but not to the point where movement has to bypass the thought process first before the physical movement. We are all trying to make movement as natural and instinctive as possible – the reason for practicing so many repetitions - and this is the difference between the advanced and beginner karateka. This is an essential concept that goes beyond kihon, and into kumite, for if we fight solely on the cognitive we do not react naturally and effectively. This is the ideal example of how equally useful this DVD can be for both beginner and advanced. Beginners will naturally only extract the most essential information for their level, and will almost become deaf to anything beyond their level or present understanding, but for the advanced karateka, there is so much food for thought!

In many ways as I was thinking about the above comment, and watching him move I realised how absolutely natural his movements are from his body. They seem so effortless; an example of what can come from rigorous, hard, repetitive training.

One of my favourite features of this DVD especially is the explanation of the kata Heian Yondan and Heian Godan. These are two of my favourites, so I was so interested in hearing and seeing his interpretation of the kata.

I loved his comment that Heian Yondan contains a ‘Combative feeling with a certain grace’. What a perfect way of describing the poise and power of this kata. In the slow movements at the beginning of the kata I could see a hint of Isaka Sensei’s control of the centre contrasted wonderfully with his powerfully explosive shuto-uchi sequence into Kosa-dachi.

The teaching of the kata is broken down into several stages. The first contains a slow run through of the kata, layered with detailed explanation of how the sequences should be delivered. This was then followed by a detailed breakdown of specific sequences. Here the sequences were given a great deal of explanation and were opened out very well to provide some of the smaller details of the movements. This was followed by Kata application and a full speed run through of the kata in his ultra-efficient manner. I think the fans of kata will really enjoy this section of the DVD and will take much from its viewing and analysing.

This DVD is truly excellent. Whether alongside the other two in the series thus far, or as a standalone DVD, this is thoroughly enjoyable. It combines all the elements that make for an enjoyable, informative DVD – detailed, beautifully shot and excellently demonstrated. I cannot wait for Volume 4!

Shaun Banfield