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Pangai Noon Karate - vol. III
Advanced Kata

by Shinyu Gushi


Tsunami Productions recently announced the publication of a four part video series by Shinyu Gushi, 8th Dan, on Pangai Noon Uechi karate. We were fortunate enough to be given a pre-publication screening in the company of Gushi sensei at Tsunami's editing facility. These are the first thirty minute video programs to be produced by Tsunami and they sell for $30 each. 

Having become accustomed to 50 or more minutes of superb material in a typical video from this company I had my doubts about the change in format-doubts that were quickly dispelled. Shinyu Gushi studied with all three of the founder's top students-Kanei Uechi, Saburo Uehara and Seiyu Shinjo and his technique is therefore, completely authentic and unchanged by modern concepts or practices.  He is unashamedly an exponent of ancient karate and in this new series he gives us a glimpse of how things were a century ago before the advent of group training, commercial dojos, and eclectic martial arts. The intensity of his training is exceptional and it is for his benefit alone and not to impress or otherwise influence the viewer. He is completely dedicated to his art and still intent upon his perfection of it after nearly a half century of training. 

When he performs Sanchin the trademark Uechi glare makes his eyes shine and one can see through these windows to the soul, the absolute determination of the man to destroy any enemy who is unwise enough to confront him.His physical condition also is impressive, as is the power and precision of his movement. This level of excellence is only reached by a handful of karate masters in full maturity after a lifetime of serious training. It is the same plateau of achievement that is occupied by celebrated concert pianists and composers, great artists and sculptors, writers and poets of international repute. Members of an elite group-those who have been touched by the Gods.I gathered from the videos that the production team felt the same about Gushi sensei, or, perhaps I was influenced by the way they presented the material. In any case the videos are among the most impressive Tsunami have ever made-and I have seen all of their previous offerings.

Part 1 concentrates on Sanchin, its performance and relevant training methods. The kata is shown in great detail and from different angles so that there can be no doubt in the viewers mind how it should be performed.  These people know what they are doing so the explanations are straightforward and lucid.  Tsukasa Gushi and Makoto Fukumoto demonstrate training methods and are then "tested" by Gushi sensei with kicks and punches as they perform this trademark kata. Then, to prove their focus and level of body conditioning wood is broken across the stomach, shoulder, and then the unsupported shins of the students.

Finally, test breaking is performed, and this is very impressive. The producer wisely does not cut away before or after the breaking so we see the whole sequence in full speed and slow motion. The material can be observed in detail and clearly has not been tampered with as is the case in other productions I have seen. I suppose we have all became rather accustomed to demonstrations of breaking, but to see a student kick through a "four by two" with his shin should impress anyone, it certainly impressed me. Clearly in a contest with these people it would not be a good idea to leave your legs undefended.

Part 2 shows the primary techniques of Pangai Noon Uechi including Mawashi Uke Shoken; Mawashi Uke Sokuto Geri; Zenkosoku Shomen Geri; Hiji Zuki; Mawashi Zuki; Wa Uke; Sukui Age Uke Gedan Barai; Hajiki Uke; Wa Uke Kamae; Shomen Hajiki; Koi No Shippo; Koi No Shippo-Yoko; Watari Uke; Fumikomi Harai Tsukui Age Harai; Suegoshi Hijitsuke and the kata Kanshiwa, Kanshu, and Seichin, the latter also performed as yakusoku kumite. Everything is very easy to follow, clear, precise, and beautifully produced.Part 3 include the balance of the kata except Sanseru which is included in part 4 with techniques for the bo, eku and jiffa, (kanzashi) the hairpin worn at one time by all Okinawan men.

Tsunami have earned their reputation by being a world away from their nearest competitiors in the areas of author qualification, quality, and value. They have consistently improved their products by taking advantage of the latest developments in video technology and upgrading their equipment on a regular basis. The introduction of 64 track stereo sound, four brand new Sony cameras and superb animation all serve to make the Pangai Noon Uechi series, in my opinion, the very best they have produced.On a personal note, Gushi sensei and his other son Atsushi are accomplished traditional musicians, and the latter frequently appears professionally in his homeland. The soundtrack for this series was specially produced by Atsushi and is quite superb. The opening sequence featuring the voices of Tsukasa Nakamura and Yasuharu Higa combined with the animated sequence was, for me, memorable.This series is everything we have come to expect from Tsunami, and more. 

An excellent teacher, fabulous editing, unequaled sound and picture quality together with  plenty of solid instructional content. Running time approx. 30 minutes; $30 each program. 
 
 
".viewers will learn the discipline's history through a wonderfully narrated montage of old
film clips and photo-graphs. students and master also  break some wooden blocks across their stomachs and shins.their unshakable concentration and strength is truly remarkable.strongly recommended."

-The Video Librarian 
Vol 14 #5 - September 1999

The Pangai Noon Uechi series by Shinyu Gushi sensei has not only taken the karate community by storm but also won high praise from the normally conservative world of library review journals such as the Video Librarian.  Gaining very high marks for instructional value, the four part series has succeeded brilliantly in presenting the complete style in a clear, technically accurate yet (as always with Tsunami videos) artistic and very satisfying way.

If you are thinking about taking up an ancient style of karate but concerned about what this entails, this is where you should go first.  While you may find the severity of the workouts alarming, the results they produce are probably the best incentive you can have to get involved.  The power of the students is incredible, and their strength and fitness, superb.
The physical condition and fitness of Gushi sensei as he enters his fifth decade of training,

truly awesome.

If the techniques seem unusual, perhaps even a little bizarre compared to the very modern karate styles like Shotokan and Wado Ryu, this is the hallmark of their origins. Shinyu Gushi is only one generation removed from the founder of the style, Kanbun Uechi, and therefore only two generations removed from its Chinese roots.  This is still a martial art. Style or form is of secondary importance, getting the job done is what it's all about. One sees therefore in the performers a strength of purpose that is somewhat disturbing-a determination to prevail and survive that is primeval in its intensity.

A better person could not have been chosen to present this series.  Shinyu Gushi surpasses the egendary reputation he has enjoyed for so long in Okinawa.  His students, Tsukasa Gushi and Makoto Fukumoto set an example of relaxed efficiency and technical excellence it would be
difficult to better, and that bodes well for the survival of true karate.  While the four
videos are at first a little overwhelming because of the quantity, power, and complexity of the techniques, repeated viewing develops a respect for the performers and their style which is, to honest karate practitioners, a little humbling.

As the reviewer from the Video Librarian told her readers: "viewers will learn the discipline's history through a wonderfully narrated montage of old film and photographs."  She continued; "The techniques are then demonstrated by 8th Dan Shinyu Gushi and two students, who withstand powerful punches, kicks and whacks with wooden planks on various parts of their bodies without flinching."

The Video Librarian awarded the Pangai Noon Uechi Karate series a score of three and one half out of an almost impossible to achieve four stars.  In the same edition of the journal a PBS documentary selling at $225 scored two and one half stars, a documentary from the Canadian National Film Board ($295) received three stars, while the powerful acting combination of Alec Baldwin, Ben Kingsley, and Amy Irving could only manage a one and one half star for The Confession.

If a seal of approval were needed for the Pangai Noon Uechi video series, here it is.  This independent and highly respected journal used by video librarians throughout the U.S. and Canada has placed it in their highest but one category.  We cannot disagree with them.  Super technique, great editing, fabulous sound and at $30 each (30 minute running time) great value. This series is a must have!

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