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Black Belt Karate: The Intensive Course    by Hirokazu Kanazawa order for
Black Belt Karate
by Hirokazu Kanazawa
Order:  USA  Can
Kodansha International, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by John Kalaidopoulos

Reading the Foreword to Black Belt Karate: The Intensive Course, I was immediately alarmed by the claim that black belt skill could be achieved by studying twice a week, for two hours per session - I had to look back at the front cover to double check which book it was that I had opened up. It seemed as though I was reading a typical non-Japanese book written by some author who created some style, using of course their own name to punctuate said style's effectiveness. I typically laugh at these instructors (or masters as they would have it). But after getting past the promise of a guaranteed black belt, I discovered that the techniques shown, the explanation, photos, and even some of the philosophy that followed was actually very good.

As all books that are aimed at teaching should do, it was kept simple and easy to follow. Kanazawa's techniques are unquestionable, this gentleman knows his karate. With slight variations of basic techniques that are usually found from style to style, the author does an excellent job of teaching karate throughout his book. The techniques are beginner and rather basic, with some leaning to the intermediate side, but nothing ever past that (another reason why I don't think a reader could ever achieve the one year claim). The author's style is Shotokan karate, a universally recognized style. But any practitioner can benefit from the many chapters devoted to basic technique, making this a great source for novices to begin with, as long as it is always in tandem with qualified instruction. Sections towards the back of the book address self-defense and Nunchaku techniques, and offer a set of training menus.

As far as the one year guaranteed black belt, I am still trying to understand why such an experienced practitioner would make such a claim, and wonder if it was added for North American publication (given the emphasis on instant results of most of our health and fitness books). This why any reader should consider Black Belt Karate as an excellent guide to help them on a path, rather than as a sure fire way to achieve a black belt.

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