Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences
Review of “Taira Shinken: Father of Ryukyu Kobudo”
By: Joseph R. Svinth
Cost: Standard Edition $44.95.
Cost: Collector’s Edition, $89.95 (This signed and numbered edition includes a certificate of authenticity. Only 200 copies will be produced.)
This is the first of a planned series of videos produced by the United States Headquarters of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai. It is in VHS format and is about 38 minutes long. It includes biographical information about Ryukyu Kobudo founder Taira, film of Taira performing kata, and film of seniors demonstrating kata during commemorations of Taira’s death.
Historical Value: Excellent. The historical photo selection is outstanding.
Specialist Value: Good. You will not learn the kata solely by watching these tapes, but if you already know them you will pick up some good ideas. A serious drawback is that kata are not introduced by name, either in voiceover or in subtitle.
General Value: Fair. There is much good material here, but as presented the film assumes the viewer has a considerable base of knowledge about Ryukyuan martial arts. Subtitles introducing historic figures would have helped — sometimes you recognize names visually that you do not recognize spoken — as would have some additional cultural and political background.
Production Quality: Average. There was nothing wrong with the production, but it would have been better had headings or other more obvious transitions broken up the distinct segments of the film. From a narrative standpoint, I also question the production team’s choice of putting the kata in the middle of the film instead of the end.
Overall, I believe this film represents outstanding value if you are of this style and good value. If you are a generalist interested in seeing video of Ryukyuan weapon arts.