Review: Paul Enfield’s Ashi-Waza Video Notes DVD 1

Taira Masaji, Kudan, Hanshi – Photo courtesy of Chris Wilson’s “Karate Masters Portrait Project”

Taira Masaji Sensei is a Kudan (9th Degree Black Belt) in Okinawan Goju-Ryu, formerly of the Jundokan, and a student of the late Miyazato Eiichi Sensei. He is a fast, fluid, powerful karateka, and he is renowned for his kata bunkai (analysis). If you’ve never seen his material, you can see one of his renzoku bunkai drills here. Those flowing drills, which move from one kata movement to the next through the entire kata, are probably what he is best known for, but they are simply a quick way of recording the techniques in the kata, and how they can be bridged together. Any technique in those drills can be taken and used separately, if one knows how to finish it effectively, and they are built off a series of bridges, or joining techniques, that can be universally applied. While I do not study Goju-Ryu, I can still see great value in Taira Sensei’s work, and he is certainly a master of his art!

One of Taira Sensei’s senior students is Paul Enfield Sensei, who I believe was also the uchi-deshi (live-in student) of Higaonna Morio Sensei for some time, and even acted as uke (receiver) and narrator for Higaonna Sensei’s instructional videos. Whenever Taira Sensei travels around English-speaking countries to teach, Enfield Sensei acts as his liaison, assistant, and interpreter. His wife, Michelle Enfield Sensei, often records video during these trips. They then compile the clips they collect over the course of these tours into DVD’s, which they sell on their dojo website. I had been interested in several of these DVD’s for quite some time–especially after seeing the material that Enfield Sensei has already freely shared, online. After I mentioned this, in passing, during a conversation about secrecy, and he was kind enough to offer me a free DVD to review! The one I chose was the DVD of “video notes” on Taira Sensei’s ashi-waza (leg techniques), which you can see a preview of, above.

DVD footage of Taira Sensei explaining ashi-kakie
The DVD is about 35 minutes in length, and divided into sections that cover different techniques and entry methods. Since the footage is a collection of recordings from seminars, rather than something shot in a professional studio, you will see some unplanned camera movements, the lighting isn’t always the best, and the sound isn’t very good. In my opinion, this does not diminish the quality of the material being presented in any way! Enfield Sensei has included zoomed-in, slow-motion, black-and-white or sepia-tone replays of the techniques being performed, which provides a great look at the details, and removes distractions. He has also taken the time to display key points in text at the bottom of the screen for clarification, so the audio explanations aren’t really necessary.

DVD footage of ashi-waza from the kata, Seiyunchin

The material, itself, is great! We have many of the same ashi-waza in Shorin-Ryu, but we don’t utilize them as much as Taira Sensei, and some of his methods are more advanced than ours. For me, this DVD really helps build on the material I have already learned. For someone who has never learned any techniques of this type, they may seem strange and impractical. It definitely takes time to get a feel for them, but they are a subtle, yet powerful addition to kata application that is worth the time. In the DVD, the techniques are often connected to the movements in Goju-Ryu kata, which is probably helpful for people who study those kata. Since I only know modified versions of Sanchin, Seiyunchin, and Tensho, it doesn’t benefit me as much. Even so, I can see connections to some of my Shorin-Ryu kata in the same movements. These techniques are a fantastic building block to further your study. The bottom line is; this DVD can improve your karate, and if you want to improve your karate, then this DVD is certainly worth the price!

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.

One thought on “Review: Paul Enfield’s Ashi-Waza Video Notes DVD

  • Samir

    Great choice of vid and great review.
    I would have only one amend, not really about the review: while I don’t fully know Taira sensei’s method, I am a firm believer that Suidi-lineages kata bunkai and application generally work pretty much the same way as Nafadi kata (that is, Taira sensei’s method wouldn’t be only for Goju-ryu kata). In both cases kata movements flow one into the next in a tacticaly advantageous way; also I firmly believe ashi waza application generally work the same way. Obviously in reality you’ll hardly perform full renzoku kata application against an opponent because: 1) you don’t necessarily begin from kata movement 1 (then 2, 3, 4…) but instead you can begin from movement 4 (then 5, 6, 7…); 2) as you get to understand how things work, you don’t necessarily need to follow the exact order of movements (you can skip steps or even repeat sequences, reverse or even mix different kata, freely adapting to the situation and to your preferences); 3) your opponent will never last that long (lol).

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