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on 5 July 2007
"Beginner to Black belt" (up to 4th kyu anyway) by John was my first ever book on karate & when I look back now over the years and compare it with the "Hundreds" of other books I have about karate, martial arts & Shotokan in particular, I have to admit he was the leader in this type of book.

It's a pity he didn't manage to get around to finishing Volumes 2 & 3 of his Advanced Kata books, I can't remember the reason he gave me when I wrote to him as to why.

His senior student Sahota however has done a wonderful job in taking over where John left off in his two seminal works on the subject.

DON'T FORGET, John was the first to display the kata in such a way with such clarity through its pictures and description - EVER! The fact that it's still so popular on the high street shop bookshelves only goes to prove its success.

Even though it only goes up to 4th kyu, it's PACKED full of basic (Kihon) information & sparring (Kumite) that fills the void many other so-called karate books leave.

In the last sections you have suggested syllabuses', large self-defence techniques (for men & women), glossaries & terminology.

Despite its initial shortfall, it's still a MASSIVE & highly successful book written by a longstanding professional on the subject, who is still highly respected by all.

As for not working in real life & causing injury - well - anyone reading the "Highway Code" can't expect to win the famous Indie 500 car race now can they?!! You need to take some Advanced driving lessons first mate & read "Road Craft" - Mr A. Reader!!
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on 3 June 2004
I disagree with some other reviewers as they have missed the point of karate.It is essentially a way of life, which has as part of it aspects of self-discipline (missing in the UK at present as far as I can see), humility (definitely missing) but with a resolute and steely resolve to defend oneself. This book covers all aspects of basic karate and I think John Van Weenen is to be congratulated.
Beginners to karate may be bewildered by the Japanese terms and the movements required in the katas, this book offers an easy and invaluable reference to most of what is needed up to purple/white belt. It is NOT perfect, but certainly when I returned from my dojo I found it helpful to go through my katas with the book and am now onto his next book. Certainly trying to remember the katas/moves without a reference is difficult enough and I haven't found a book that does it better.
Karate is not about beating people senseless, it's giving yourself a better chance. The idiot who wrote that JvW would not stand a chance against the average pub "Joe", is typical of why some of us choose to study karate. I know whose side I'd rather be on.
7 people found this helpful
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on 18 May 2001
The book takes you through most of the things you need to know about Karate. From stretching tequniques to weight lifting. It also shows most of the punches, kicks and blocking you need to now to get started. Although the book teaches you alot it will not be as good as a proper lesson. But if you are starting this book is definately a must.
2 people found this helpful
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on 19 January 2007
This book is an excellent training aid when used to support formal, professional karate training. It re-inforces the various techniques taught and serves as an excellent reminder of newly-learned strikes, blocks, stances and much more. I am fortunate enough to be a novice in a club run by Sensei van Weenen and could not wish to be in better hands. My daughter is also learning fast under his tuition and we both find this book to be invaluable. Highly recommended
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on 16 January 2003
With around 80% of the 280 pages in Jon Van Weenen's book dedicated to photographic tuition, it's no surprise to find this one of the best books around for anyone who wants to PRACTICE Shotokan rather than just read about it. Individual moves, kata and practical application are all mapped out in photographic detail - all accompanied with foot plans so you don't lose where you are. Highly recommended. Read this in your tracksuit!
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on 28 January 2005
Sensei Van Weenen is undoubtedly among Britain's top Shotokan experts, and this book, which has now been on the market for 22 years in different forms, is amongst the best available. It should of course be noted that any book can only supplement good practical instruction.
There are sections on the various moves, on kata, self defence and on weight lifting.
The section on moves is very good, but doesn't feature one or two moves which you might expect to find here, kizami zuke being one off the top of my head. The explanations and photos are excellent, however.
The kata section goes no further than the Heian katas, and you would certainly need more than this to become a black belt, probably Tekki Shodan and Bassai Dai. The kata section features very little by way of explanation, but the illustrations and diagrams are first class. It should be mentioned that Sensei Van Weenen has written another book featuring the more advanced katas.
The self defence section is worth a look, but to my mind is of no more than casual interest.
The weightlifting section is an excellent summary of the subject from a martial artist's perspective, but I can't help wondering why the man in the illustrations is pictured in gi (karate suit) bottoms alone!!
All in all, an excellent text, rounded off with some interesting photos and stories from the author's life in karate. You may notice that he has commented on his work here, not many authors do!
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on 28 November 2002
I bought this book after my first lesson in one of John Van Weenen's dojos. It is an extremely well-written and occasionally thought provoking volume which not only looks at the techniques required to learn Shotokan Karate upto Black Belt level, but also discusses the more spiritual aspect to the sport. Recognising that this book is intended as an accompaniament to a course of tutored study, my only minor criticism is that some of the photos are less than perfectly clear but this does not detract much from the overall quality of the volume.
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on 6 October 2001
I first read this book almost 15 years ago and I still find that it has not been surpassed. The clarity of the photos clearly demonstrate technniques in a very accessible manner. I have bought many copies of this book, as friends, who visit, and also train in the shotokan style, borrow my copies and never seem willing to return them! A must for beginners and advanced students alike-now followed up by the great Sensei's 'Advanced' guide.
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on 2 April 1999
Good phots, instructions from the world famous black belt himself! Bye it for a beginners guide, teaches Katas and grades, brill!
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on 18 March 2010
I reccomend this book 100 per cent if you are a begginer or kyu grade. I'm a secound kyu and of the 100's of books I own this is the one book that is always close to hand. A must for anyone who needs reference for the first stages of karate.
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