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Uchinadi vol. I
The Original Karate of
Okinawa
by Toshihiro Oshiro



Toshihiro Oshiro is a protege of the Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. He is best known in the West for his mastery of kobudo weapons, notably the bo of Yamanni Ryu, which has eclipsed to some extent his really splendid karate skills. No longer, I suspect. I should point out here that had I thought this program was simply another version of basic karate kata, as it appeared to be, I would not have reviewed it. It's not, and I did.
 

These may be the basic kata but they are performed in a manner so explosive that it is uncanny how the performer maintains so much control and accuracy over his movement while generating so much power. I would recommend this video to anyone for this reason alone, although there are many, many more reasons to recommend it.

The basic techniques section was also extremely interesting. Watching it I realized fully for the first time how much energy a karate punch could generate, and how that power was developed and transmitted. Placing his fist against the body of an assistant, Oshiro exerted pressure for an instant and the strongly built individual was thrown back about three feet. Nothing was arranged or "set up", there was no fancy camera work, he just did it! Watching the technique in slow motion it was obvious how he did it, and equally obvious that we have all been doing it wrong all these years. The power comes from a reactive, rather than active hip movement, and from the way the wrist is used to deliver the fist to the target. It's all ridiculously simple when you see about it which makes one wonder why weren't we shown this before

Clearly this sort of technique is the basis for the stories about one inch knock out blows, and damage to internal organs from apparently soft punches. I interviewed one of Oshiro's "victims" who told me that, although he tensed himself strongly in anticipation of being punched, and the technique was only a prod or a poke, he felt the energy from it deep inside his body, and the sensation lasted for a long time. He was of the opinion that, had the blow been delivered with the sort of power that Mr. Oshiro was clearly capable of developing, he, the victim, might not have been available for future studio sessions.

The blocking techniques demonstrated by the author were also devastating. According to Oshiro, there are no defensive techniques in karate, only attacks delivered to the opponent's attacking arm or leg. He demonstrated by attacking (blocking) a punch in the most vigorous and effective way judging from the expression on the face of the attacker.


Uchinadi takes a refreshingly straight forward approach. Much of the material appears here for the first time and everything is shown very clearly so that you can understand and learn it. As with all videos from this company the production quality is excellent. Uchinadi means "our fighting method" in Okinawan. Although it is clearly the origin of modern karate as we know it, it is more powerful, more effective, and certainly more appropriate for the of life and death confrontations from which it developed.



P.S.: If you ever have the opportunity to take a seminar with Oshiro Sensei, don't hesitate. I suspect you will learn more about karate in an hour with him than you would learn in a year elsewhere. I did. I was so intrigued by his internal striking method that I spoke to him at length about it, carefully avoiding, I think with both skill and courtesy, all offers of demonstrations on my person. He is an educated, charming, and articulate man, speaks English well, and has done a great deal of research into the history of karate, and the way that techniques have developed, or degenerated, depending upon your point of view, since the early days.


Uchinadi: The Original Karate of Okinawa by Toshihiro Oshiro. Running time: 50 minutes. $39.95

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