As Black Belt’s director of digital media, I have been privileged to meet, interview and work with some of the world’s greatest martial arts masters — men and women of great skill, poise, humility, humor and knowledge in their chosen style of practice.
In 2011, I had the distinct honor of hosting samurai weapons master and Black Belt Hall of Fame member Masayuki Shimabukuro at the Black Belt video studio to shoot the three-DVD set Advanced Samurai Swordsmanship.
It would be the second of two Masayuki Shimabukuro DVD sets for which I was privileged to serve as project supervisor.
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Little did I know that the project would mark the last time I would see this samurai weapons master alive.
Masayuki Shimabukuro sadly passed away just over a year later, on September 7, 2012. (Read senior disciple Carl E. Long’s touching tribute.)
Fortunately, Mr. Shimabukuro’s teachings are preserved for posterity in samurai weapons books, DVDs and online videos. For this week’s video, I dug into the vault and brought back a brief look at the making of his final DVD set, Advanced Samurai Swordsmanship.
SAMURAI WEAPONS VIDEO
Behind-the-Scenes Footage of Samurai Weapons Master Master Masayuki Shimabukuro in Action
Watching this footage again brought back a lot of memories of three days spent in the presence of a master whose handling of the deadly samurai sword made the endeavor look deceptively easy.
We had fun shooting with Mr. Shimabukuro and his senior samurai weapons student, Carl E. Long, for three days here at Black Belt. The effort yielded one of our most beautiful and informative DVD sets to date.
And with that in mind, we proudly offer this brief glimpse behind the scenes of what turned out to be Masayuki Shimabukuro’s final video shoot with us before his passing.
We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at a great samurai weapons master as much as I enjoyed the privilege of working with him.
The three-disc set Advanced Samurai Swordsmanship features samurai sword masters Masayuki Shimabukuro and Carl E. Long demonstrating and explaining a variety of cutting techniques, attacks, and defenses in two-man sword-sparring scenarios. The sparring situations involve equal swords, some are long sword vs. short sword, and some are even sword vs. an unarmed opponent! These methods for practice are explained first by Carl E. Long and then demonstrated by/with his sensei. Particular attention is paid to footwork, timing, hand positions and rhythm.
The attention paid to such details comes from the notion that "a training partner changes the feeling and understanding of everything in a practitioner’s swordsmanship–timing, footwork, distancing and the feeling of receiving a real attack, to name just a few,” as Masayuki Shimabukuro and Carl E. Long wrote in their definitive book Samurai Swordsmanship: The Batto, Kenjutsu and Tameshigiri of Eishin-Ryu (also available as an e-book).
Advanced Samurai Swordsmanship includes the following topics and features:
- two-man sparring
- deep-level practice of kata (forms)
- agility and body movement
- precision-cutting demonstrations
- mastery drills for timing, blocking and drawing
- expert development of footwork
- on-screen glossary of samurai swordsmanship terminology