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Kobudo vol. I
The Weapon Arts of Okinawa

by Shinpo Matayoshi

Shinpo Matayoshi, who passed away recently, was a living legend for most of us. He not only successfully carried on the work his father began, but he also studied in his youth with Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju Ryu, and Go Ken Ki, the famous Chinese White Crane teacher who lived until the early forties in Okinawa.

In this program he combines (at age seventy-five) the experience and training of a lifetime with the strength and flexibility of a man half his age. Visitors to the Tsunami studio were amazed when, during his warming up exercises prior to recording the video, without apparent concern, he did a full splits on the studio floor.

This is a beautiful video, certainly up to the uniquely high standard of Tsunami. The locations are superb, the editing and camera work could not be better, and the fifty-five minutes are simply crammed with instructional material and beautiful images. Probably the part that has caught most viewers' attention is Matayoshi Sensei's performance of the Hakutsuru kata that he learned from Go Ken Ki almost sixty years ago. He performs both versions, male and female, and watching it gives one the feeling of seeing something from the long distant past, a sort of living martial arts antique. 

However, as Matayoshi Sensei was one of the most senior kobudo instructors, the bulk of the material naturally deals with the weapon arts in this presentation (part one of a series of two videos, the Bo, Tonfa, Eku and Nunchaku.) Matayoshi Sensei performs the fundamental techniques of his style and the kata for the various weapons, and also lectures on their use, in a section of the video that is covered with a sensitive and accurate English translation. The slow - motion is excellent, the kata are shown from different angles so every movement can be seen clearly, and the applications are practical and very well performed. 

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced weapons person, I do not think that you could fault this video. It contains so much material you will watch it over and over again, and learn something new every time you do. The beautiful locations add greatly to the viewing pleasure, and the late Matayoshi Sensei's performance of the White Crane kata is simply stunning. 

"Kobudo" Running time: 55 minutes. Includes fundamental techniques & explanations of their meanings, applications, the formal exercises Choun no Kun, Sakugawa no Kun, Suishi no Kun, Matayoshi nunchaku and tonfa kata, Tsuken Akachu no Eku kata, both versions of Hakutsuru. Matayoshi Sensei is assisted by Morio Higaonna and Hideharu Igaki. 

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