I just finished rereading “Karate Kata: Heian 1 and Tekki 1” by Masatoshi Nakayama for the first time in quite a few years and was reminded of the first time I had purchased this and the other four books in the series when I was first starting out upon my martial arts journey whose primary focus in those early days was Karate and Tae Kwon Do. These books were some of the first ones I owned concerning the martial arts and kata or forms in particular.
This is an outstanding series of books focusing on the katas needed for advancement from the colored belt ranks to first degree black belt. The author starts out with the customary introduction and follows that up with a section on the proper execution of a kata and the performance points to focus on, of which there are seven of them. The author also explains the five do’s and don’ts of kata. This is followed by the focus of the book which is on katas Heian #1 and Tekki #1. Both of which are required forms for the lower rank karate students.
The section on the katas starts out with an outstanding diagram of the footwork as it is performed in the kata. These diagrams are very clear and precise in their presentation. You may be a bit confused by them at first, but they will clear up just as soon as you perform the kata a few times.
The author’s layout for this and the other volumes in the series is outstanding and is presented in such an easy to understand format that it almost underscores the importance of the moves themselves, making them looking easier than they really are. This of course is necessary due to the limited scope of this book and the vast amount of technical detail there actually is even in the simplest looking of kata.
The author use a variety of photographs to show you not only the beginning and ending of each move, but also the transitional stages of movement between the beginning and ending of the technique. This is one of the many highlights of this series and just goes to show the amount of time and care that was taken in the production and development of this outstanding book. The author also uses an occasional overhead photograph to go along with the standard front and side view photographs of each move.
Another added bonus in this book is the inclusion of the application of each technique as it applies to being used against an actual opponent. Although a lot of the “modern day” experts may disagree as to the value of kata as a method of teaching self-defense principles, those of us in the know understand the great value kata has when you understand all of the principles behind the correct execution of a kata. These “modern day” experts tend to only look upon the surface of the kata, rather than delving underneath the surface to all the wonderful principles that kata truly represents.
I found the descriptions of each move to be a bit brief, but they were good and could have been even better if they went a little more in-depth. The closer views of some of the more difficult techniques was also well done and was another nice little gem unto itself.
The description of the katas is followed by a glossary of Karate terms in both English and Japanese. The book ends with a unique fold-out of each kata shown from an overhead view with accompanying footwork illustrations alongside the photographs. This is a really nice touch and fairly unique as I don’t recall every seeing this particular format in any other martial art related book.
I highly recommend this series of books to anyone whose school or dojo practices the Heian/Tekki series of katas. Unfortunately, I think that these books are out-of-print, so it may take some time and a few bucks to track them down and obtain them, but they are well worth the price.
Shawn Kovacich has been practicing the martial arts for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of 4th degree (Yodan) black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Shawn has also competed in such prestigious full-contact bare knuckle karate competitions as the Shidokan Open and the Sabaki Challenge, among others. In addition to his many accomplishments, Shawn is also a two time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Shawn is the author of Axe Kick the third volume in the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series. of martial arts books, and is currently working on several additional marital arts and self-defense books.