Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On January - 20 - 2014

I purchased this movie after discovering its importance to the history of the International Karate Daigaku. The film was inspiration for the founder of the IKD, Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai. He seen the film at the Rio cinema in Albouystown, Guyana in 1963. He was thirteen years old and became obsessed with the karate that was showing in the film. In fact he lists Hidetaka Nishiyama, who appears in the demonstration portion of the film and is one of the fight choreographers, as one of his teachers.

This film was the first martial arts movies released in the United States. It has the full cooperation of the Japan Karate Association. The beginning of the film has an “opening crawl” (scrolling text) about the JKA and the art of Shotokan Karate.

handofdeathKarate: The Hand of Death

A Nazi war criminal is in Tokyo to cash his war loot: $1 million in platinum. When he’s murdered, a visiting American is framed and must elude police as well as a gang that thinks he has the precious metal. He’s Matt Carver and he has his own history: raised in Japan, fluent in Japanese and karate, but an American soldier in the Pacific in World War II. He’s bitter, and he’s in Tokyo to put ghosts to rest. While in hiding, he turns to the Harakawa family, including Akira, his boyhood friend. Carver’s history with the Harakawa family holds the key to the mystery of the dead Nazi, but how do these separate stories connect, and can Carver sort it out before it’s too late?

The best part of the film is opening credits and the demonstration in the dojo. During the opening credits, Master Nishiyama can clearly be seen breaking the boards the that credits are written on. The dojo scene, which is included below, features Nishiyama, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Takayuki Mikami and Hiroshi Shoji. All of these men are historical figures in Shotokan Karate. During this scene, one of the main characters in the film is explaining the techniques and history of karate. Then lead actors are shown breaking some roofing tiles.

In the 1960’s, the JKA had begun sending Instructors around the World. This film would have been a good advertisement for them. As Karate: The Hand of Death hit theaters, how many young people were sitting with their popcorn and milk duds watching the techniques of these masters? How many of them were also inspired as Master Woon-A-Tai was?

I do not claim this movie as a hit film. The story is weak and drags on but its historical value to Shotokan karate practitioners is priceless.




Categories: Book/Video Reviews

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