Karate – The Complete Kata
Karate – The Complete Kata, by Hirokazu Kanazawa, translated by Richard Berger, is an extremely well put-together affair. It has some incredibly beautiful photography of Kanazawa Sensei, not only demonstrating the kata, but showing his own personal technique. Something that is quite often overlooked in books of a technical nature is the quality of the paper on which the book is printed. It is obvious immediately that no expense has been spared. The paper is of excellent quality and this shows the photography very clearly.
Karate – The Complete Kata seems to be an amalgamation of two older Kata books by Kanazawa Sensei, but updated, and including relevant technical revisions. The book covers all 26 Shotokan Kata, and the kata are demonstrated not only by Kanazawa Sensei but by Manabu Murakami, Nobuaki Kanazawa, Ryusho Suzuki, Shinji Tanaka, Fumitoshi Kanazawa and Daizo Kanazawa.
The Kata covered in the book are:
Heian Shodan, Heian Nidan, Heian Sandan, Heian Yondan, Heian Godan, Tekki Shodan, Tekki Nidan, Tekki Sandan, Bassai Dai, Bassai Sho, Kanku Dai, Kanku Sho, Jion, Jiin, Empi, Jitte, Hangetsu, Gankaku, Chinte, Sochin, Meikyo, Nijushiho, Unsu, Wankan, GojushihoDai, Gojushiho Sho, and Koryu Gankaku.
Each kata, or group of kata, has an historical introduction, detailing the creation and history of each kata, highlighting the reasons behind the creation of each of our Shotokan Kata. If we take Wankan as an example, the introduction highlights any other names that the kata has been known as, as well as the area that the kata originated from. We are also introduced to unique elements of the kata, as well as a comparison between the Shotokan and Shito Ryu version of Wankan. This detail helps to colour in the personality of the kata, which is further enhanced in the incredibly detailed breakdown of the kata that follows.
Each kata in the book is broken down into individual techniques, as well as individual transitions in some instances, with side view images where needed. What makes this book different though, is the addition of text explanation for every image. Quite often in kata books, there will be lovely images of how the technique should look in its finished form, but very little actual explanation of transition or intent. This book is different in this manner. Each photograph comes alongside a text explanation, as well as a key to help with the actual performance of the power and breathing within the kata. The detail provided for each kata is immense, and to be quite honest, if you are attempting to actually learn a kata from this book (which obviously is never recommended – go to a dojo!) you will find yourself quickly overwhelmed! For the detailed analysis or study of a kata, this is a fantastic book.
Those of you who are more observant will have noticed the introduction of the kata Koryu Gankaku in this book. This is a kata that is practised by SKIF and its members. Gankaku, was previously known as Chinto, or even before that, as Mukandi in Okinawa. Koryu Gankaku is the older form of this kata, and it’s unique features include a range of offensive and defensive techniques, and an unusual embusen. Just like every other kata in the book, this kata is broken down into individual techniques and transitions, and each photograph has a text explanation to accompany it. There are also a small number of technical analysis examples for bunkai after each kata, and this kata also benefits from this addition.
At the end of the book there is a detailed karate glossary which includes not only translations of some of the terminology found in the book, but explanations of these terms also.
All in all this is a fantastically detailed book, and even if you are not a member of SKIF and probably couldn’t reference this book as such, I would still highly recommend purchasing Karate – The Complete Kata. It is not only an opportunity to see legends such as Kanazawa demonstrating kata, but also includes such detail on the history and development of kata that everyone can take away something from this book. The introduction of Koryu Gankaku and its explanation is truly fascinating and makes this book original and unique.
A fascinating and detailed kata compendium, well recommended.