The Heat of Battle
The name Elwyn Hall is not one that needs much explaining. He was one of the most recognisable faces for many years, being a top fighter for the KUGB and making an impact upon all that he fought against.
The blurb in the back of the DVD explains that ‘Elwyn Hall takes traditional Dojo techniques onto the street and demonstrates once and for all the efficacy of Shotokan in the so-called real situation’.
Whenever people release DVDs that promise to show ‘real violence’ I get a bit nervous. I’ve seen my fair share of badly acted ‘street situations’ and very rarely find any sense of adrenaline, or fear, or anything even remotely unfunny. This is most certainly not the case with this DVD. The situation are taken from genuine police reports, and have a real sense of urgency and realism. They are well filmed, and well acted, by people that have been unfortunate enough to have experienced genuine violence first hand.
The DVD begins with a brief description of Elwyn Hall, touching upon his extensive karate background, detailing his many competition successes amongst other things. The DVD places focus upon the use of techniques that many people would deem suitable for maybe only competition, in a street situation. Some of the techniques explored include Kizami Zuki, Gyaku Zuki and Mawashi Geri. It is great to see a person as successful as Elwyn Hall telling us that these techniques can be used to defend us, and not just to bring home the medals.
The switching between traditional dojo footage, Elwyn at competition, and the reconstructions of the street attacks makes for interesting viewing, and keeps the audience engaged throughout the DVD, and whilst I realise this isn’t a DVD about Elwyn Hall’s incredible competition success it is impossible to not be blown away by his impeccable timing and control in the scenes from his competitive career.
The first focus is placed upon the effectiveness of Kizami Zuki in a street situation, comparing it to the right cross or upper cut of a boxer. Quite often in DVDs such as this one we see polished scenes from the dojo, where techniques are performed perfectly. There is nothing ‘scripted’ about the presentation of the dojo scenes. They are not set up or planned, they are filmed simply as they play out, and the genuine use of the techniques helps you to focus on the actual application of each technique, the difficulties in making them work, and the rewards when it does work.
There is a focus placed upon the difference between training to make your techniques work for competition and making them work on the street. The two main differences are the change in distance and the change in the level of control with which the technique should be delivered. The importance of training on a bag or with focus mitts is emphasised, so that you can train without worrying about control. It is about generating absolute power, with the correct distancing.
There is an interview with Elwyn Hall at the end of the DVD, dealing with pertinent issues such as adrenaline, attitude and physical conflict. Elwyn – in this interview – explains some of the points covered in the DVD in more detail, and shares his opinions on karate and it’s place in his life.
A review of the DVD upon the Legend Productions website by Peter Consterdine states “Elwyn Hall makes a genuine attempt to focus on the real dynamics of karate. He shows the techniques that are best suited to finishing off any mugger, or attacker.” The DVD goes a long way towards bridging the gap between karate used for competition, and the karate that could one day save your life. It is a massive feat to be able to do this, and the DVD is a success. It will inspire you to train harder, and not just to win medals, but to make your karate effective, and should it ever need to be, deadly.
Emma Robins 2010