Monday, March 19, 2012


From my karate library (which consists of 74 books - I just counted) I have only three which show Kanku-sho. Two of these are by the same author, Hirokazu Kanazawa, and the other is volume 9 of Masatoshi Nakayama's Best Karate series. I have a real affection for the older JKA manuals and videos, but at the same time it was Kanazawa (who used to be JKA, of course) who first impressed me as an individual. At our club we tend to go to Kanazawa for reference when needed.

Best Karate vol. 9 was published in 1985 (by Kodansha International), and is a departure from previous manuals in the series in that the photographs are not cut-outs, but complete with backgrounds. It's much nicer, I think, than the cut-outs - though those are perfectly adequate, if a little wonky at times! Mikio Yahara demonstrates Kanku-sho in this book, with the other kata contained in that volume being Bassai-sho and Chinte.

The older Kanazawa book is one I owned a long time ago, got rid of in a book-purge, and then re-purchased a few years ago because I missed it - it is Shotokan Karate International Kata vol 2 (published in 1982). The other is Sensei Kanazawa's more recent tome, Karate The Complete Kata (Kodansha International, 2009). This is a wonderful book, largely thanks to having the entire syllabus under one cover, but also because of the useful descriptions accompanying each technique. The only downside is that the photos are tiny, which is where the earlier manual comes into its own with much larger and clearer photographs.

All three include a few basic bunkai at the end of each section, some of it not so good ... for instance, in Best Karate, Yahara demonstrates both the manji-kamae and the kasui-ken as being blocks against two simultaneous attackers. There's also some Hong-Kong-Phooey jumping over a staff. It's all fine for a bit of fun. These are made up for with some fine points of the kata demonstrated by Sensei Nakayama.

In both his books Kanazawa just shows the same two very simple applications (one technique and one sequence), only in the second one he's 27 years older (but still looking pretty sharp!). He has one of his sempai photographed for the actual kata in the 2009 publication (I couldn't find a name).

There are few minor but notable differences between Kanazawa and the 1980s JKA. Kanazawa includes an osae-uke in the main sequence, whereas Nakayama keeps the open hand out high, purely as a counter-movement to the uraken. In the morote-zuki (kiba dachi), Kanazawa has introduced a middle-level forearm block (ude-uke) in preparation of the side double-punch; Yahara shows just a wind-up for the strike. Kanazawa is more elegant and has standardised what probably otherwise has a lot of variation, though Nakayama could be said to be more pragmatic and direct. The haishu-uke is shown as a jodan technique by Kanazawa whereas the JKA instruct it should be to shoulder level - still technically jodan, but not as high.

If you're after Shotokan manuals for kata, these are certainly among the very best available, and you can see both Kanazawa and Yahara demonstrate Kanku-sho with the aid of YouTube.

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