They are all here Yamaguichi, Ueshiba, Kano, Higa Seko, Nishiyama, Tomiki, Richard Kim, Oshiro, Demura, Tohei, Kubota, and close to 70 more of the most famous ever Japanese/Okinawan Masters of the Martial Arts.
Years in the making this documentary is a collection of the best Masters of Budo .... Karate, Aikido, Judo, Sword, Kobudo and much more. This is not just one persons collection but rather 15 plus of the world's leading martial artists have contributed to its making.
The narration is excellent, the music appropriate, and the writing factual. The footage dates back to 1917 circa and some as recent as 2003.
This presentation close to two hours in length is perfect for martial arts schools to play as a history lesson or for those who are interested in comparing the kata of Higa Seko to that of Yagi Meitoku or who want to compare Hidetaka Nishiyama to Gichin Funakoshi or maybe Nagamine's Shorin Ryu to Hohan Soken's Shorin Ryu.
You will see why Masters like Ueshiba, Nishiyama, Kano and Miyazato will go down in history as legends and National Treasures of Japan.
Plus you will see some of the most amazing feats of power ever, Tak Kubota smashing his shins with a sledge hammer, Seiji Uechi slicing a solid concrete slab in half with a single cut of a sword, MasOyama fighting a Bull, Hidetaka Nishiyama smashing boards in four different directions and so much more.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: a generous 2 stars Comment: It's not quite bad enough to rate a "1 star" rating... but it's close. This is a compilation of mostly home-movie quality video, some of it dating back to the advent of "moving-film" photography. It looks to be a collection of mostly donated recordings for an archived recording. There's nothing wrong with that; but this is not a professional film-quality video history. For those whose performances were not available on video, the producers flash a name on the screen and render a 20-second dossier on the unfilmed sensei. There are a number of masters who perform kata for exhibition who're obviously past their prime--in their late 70's and maybe 80's. This is not meant as a slight against all that they've achieved nor their intentions on the mat, but I felt that they would have been better served had no film been included and just the customary 20-second blurb accompany their names (in graphics). These men were *way* past regular practice, and it showed; I found myself wondering--"what's the point?... why did he do that? he's obviously a ghost of his earlier self..." and while I respect what he did 'for the cause', and this DVD might be touted as "more complete" for having every video available for these old masters, it might not be best to include one's performance if it looks as ineffective as it seems. (besides that, it's boring to watch an old man struggle through, especially if one knows how he's trying to perform--this isn't meant with any disrespect--but from an objective point of view, these renditions serve no purpose and do not inform nor inspire--maybe it's inspirational to see an 80-yr old move with "intent", but the body betrays them.)
This seems a sincere attempt to compile footage of every "well-known" practictioner; unfortunately, the majority of the works are 1-2 minute clips. Most of the masters perform a single kata or an exhibition of rudimentary bunkai. There is no delving into detail (like even what is available on a few more thorough Youtube segments); most of the exhibitions are filmed from bleacher seats (like in a gym, not a football stadium). Some of the performances are incomplete; obviously, the 'home movie' sources had breaks in the 8mm film stock.
Most of what is here is available on Youtube in comparable demonstrations (if not by the instructor in this DVD, then by others who are probably as comparable); and if it's not available on Youtube, the omission of these exhibits from your personal library is no great loss except maybe for collector "value". I only paid $3 to rent it (I didn't see the 'DVD for sale' link until I'd committed) and even at that measly price, I don't find much value in the video.
There is no way to skip sections; fortunately, the masters' performances are mostly alphabetical by last name (there are several entries that were filed under the master's first name). The narrator's understanding of the most rudimentary Japanese pronunciation is meager to say the least; i. e., what passes for "WaSEEda" University should be pronounced "WA-seyda". Why is this important?--because he butchers about half the masters' names. (Why is it the British never seem to care that what they say doesn't sound like Japanese pronunciations?)Even more annoying is the sound track loop; if you're a Western rock 'n roller, that Japanese restaurant music that's so quaint over dinner gets to be real tiresome for two hours listening to that thin nasal female screech for ~5 minutes every 15 minutes or so. I finally got into a practice of listening to the narrator's introductory blurbs (20 seconds at most for each sensei) and then turned off the sound until the next master was introduced. After the first hour, it was the only way I could sit and watch the performances. I'll probably never sit through this again; there weren't enough unique entries to peak my interest and motivate me to cull through it again.
The only reason to acquire this DVD is to have a video history of martial arts lineage. Customer Rating: Summary: Unique historical record with a specialized audience Comment: This is a relatively low quality but unique historical record of great Japanese and Okinawan martial artists of the early 20th century. This looks essentially like a patchwork of home edited clips, with awkwardly placed titles between them. In spite of the poor production, this DVD will be valuable for those looking for a visual list of the pioneering Japanese and Okinawan martial arts masters whose lives inspired the very concept of Budo.
What you get on this DVD for the most part is a very brief look at some of the formal exercises of these arts as performed by the famous teachers who contributed the most to the Japanese martial arts tradition in the early twentieth century, when modern Budo took more distinct form from its earlier feudal heritage.
What you don't get on this DVD is any sense of the power and skills of these masters, or why they are considered masters. For example, I remember Enoeda Sensei of Shotokan for his unstoppable power and fierce spirit, yet his entry on this DVD looks more like a Noh drama than a display of warrior skills.
Most of the scenes on this DVD that do capture a good sense of the special abilities of some of these masters are also found on Nemoto's film "Budo" ("or Budo: The Art of Killing" outside of Japan). I recommend that film much more highly for those looking for a sense of the spirit and elegance of Budo, and for its far better quality production.
If you want to know what Mas Oyama looked like pounding on a bull once or twice, you want to see Tak Kubota hitting himself with a bat, see Jigoro Kano performing his floating hip throw, the aged Ueshiba O Sensei ply his magic for a few seconds, or see what various other famous masters look like in brief formallized demonstrations, this DVD will be a unique opportunity for you. It is a truly impressive compendium of otherwise very hard to find clips.
If you are looking for demonstrations of how these arts are effective, why they were practiced, or why these men are masters, you will be very disappointed. The narration is extremely minimal and poor quality and there is very little useful information.
This is a stream of visual snapshots of many of the most remarkable martial artists in history, those whose lives and skills gave us the very concept of martial arts during the twentieth century.
My feeling is that this DVD would make a very nice appendix to a volume that portrays the power and principles of these arts and these masters in a more interesting, informative, and persuasive way. ALthough I found it fascinating because I am interested in the history of martial arts, I have to say that this DVD doesn't quite stand on its own, it is for those with a fairly speciallized interest. Customer Rating: Summary: Budo masters of the Martial Arts Comment: In this DVD you see all the great Masters of the Martial Arts including Yamaguchi, Nishiyama, Richard Kim, Demura, and many more. You get to see them perform Katas and different self-defence techniques, some rare and historical footage. This DVD is a must have. Customer Rating: Summary: not worth it Comment: This film as a dvd is quite annoying because the entire film is one chapter, not allowing you to navigate to a particular scene. The sound quality is terrible, the music annoyingly repetitive and while the "rare" film footage has some interesting moments the quality is so bad that you can barely make out what is happening. Also there are much better and dynamic shots of some of these budo masters that this film (because of copyright?) didn't make use of. More of a slide show the narration is ridiculously limited, the titles amateuristic and so all in all nothing is missed by not having this poorly researched and trite exercise. Customer Rating: Summary: Great DVD when it's not stopping and skipping Comment: The music is beautiful and the footage is outstanding. It's just disappointing that it never plays straight through. All my other dvds play with no problems, so I'm not sure why this happens, but it's certainly a distraction and inconvience when the footage is so exciting.