Summary: isshin ryu karate's tatsuo shimabuku-d
Comment: the film is a bad copy of the orginal tape.
Summary: Valuable footage, embarassing editorial
Comment: There are very few video images of Isshinryu founder Tatsuo Shimabuku. That alone makes this footage, taken on 8 mm film during his 1966 visit to the United States, a valuable historical record. As any student of Isshinryu history knows, Shimabuku Sensei was "walking" through the kata on this DVD. There is no power, no focus -- what there IS is a record of the movements, done slowly and deliberately so everyone can see. If you know what to look for, you can see the power and precision in him, and if you look at his stance, you can appreciate a part of karate that is so often overlooked today. According to many senior students, Tatsuo was sick during filming, and in no mood to demonstrate every kata -- check out the section where he throws his sai at the wooden dojo floor, a move traditionally saved for outdoor demonstrations on dirt ground. Many take this as a manifestation of his annoyance with his treatment on his trip to the US. What makes this DVD especially painful, however, is the commentary, which recites so many of the distortions and outright untruths that permeate so much of Isshinryu. For instance, that Tatsuo was the top student of Chojun Miyagi. On the contrary, even the smallest bit of research into karate history reveals that Tatsuo may not have studied directly with Miyagi at all, and certainly not for any great length of time. The brilliance of Shimabuku was such that he was able to adopt aspects of Miyagi's Goju Ryu, such as Sanchin, without having spent years studying with Miyagi. Tatsuo's sanchin was said to be incredibly strong. If you don't have a copy of this already, get the DVD, it can be very useful for checking moves, and a DVD is a better format than VHS for viewing. But please, turn off the sound. One more thing, and turning the sound off won't help because this is on a cue card. The weapon is called "Tonfa" or "Tuifa" and the kata is Hama Higa no Tuifa. The cue card was just mis-written. Please, don't just call it "Cheifa" because the cue-card writer misunderstood the Okinawan accent and then your teacher's teacher saw this film. Of course, it's been 40 years and far more accomplished karate-ka and researchers than me have tried to point this out, but I'll put it in here just the same.
Comment: I have a worthy collection of VHS & DVD documentary on martial arts. This DVD has positive & negative aspects. Great footage of the 1st generation Hanshi of Isshinryu, a historical record to be cheerished by anyone who love's Karate. Was Hanshi in his prime - no, were the demonstrations recorded good techniques - yes, was the quality of the camera work great - no (come on it was made by a GI with handheld 8mm movie camera or the equivilant), was this worth the cost - hell yes. What is the alternative? Hanshi has passed and to date the amount of video documentary on any of the old masters little or none. Get passed video quality and keep perspective on what was then & what is now. This stays in my collection.
Summary: Lasting memory
Comment: I'm glad to have a record of Master Shimabuku performing the katas, even if they are grainy. Every Isshin Ryu Practitioner should own this DVD, it is our only record of the Master. I've looked, but cannot find another DVD like this.
Bryan Winkelman (www.senseibryan.com)- Author of "Training Manual for Isshin Ryu Karate" listed on Amazon.com
Summary: Quality of 8mm, but Rare Film of Tatso Shimabuku a Must
Comment: Tatso Shimabuku, founder of Isshin Ryu karate, is on film performing empty hand and weapon katas. He is of old age in the film, and the quality is very poor, probably filmed in 8mm and it was filmed in the 1960s; but to see this interesting martial artist and founder of the system at work is still worth the price (although I received this gift for free).
It does not help to complain of the quality, because I doubt there is much Masterline Video can do with such old footage.
However, they could have established 'scene selection'. Still, the rare footage and special place held in the pioneering for the martial arts by Shimabuku makes this a worthwhile purchase for teh martial arts enthuthaists. Thank you Sensei for this nice gift.