Friday, 2 March 2012


If you want to watch a karate movie with authentic fighting then you won't go wrong with this film. Kuro-obi (Black Belt) was released onto DVD in August 2011.

I watched it recently with my husband and we were bowled over by the fighting scenes - no wires, no CGI, just good authentic karate performed by high ranking karate sensei who have entered the world of martial arts film making.

Here's a synopsis of the plot:

"The year is 1932 and the Japanese military is dismantling each Karate dojo across the country. Amidst this chaos, the master of one dojo dies before passing on the 'Kuro-obi' to a successor. Three men of the dojo compete to earn the Kuro-obi and must face the might of the Japanese army. This leads them on very different paths, pitting each man against the other, and ultimately thrusting them into a terrible encounter with fate....."

The leading parts are played by TATSUYA NAKA (Sixth Dan), instructor at the Japan Karate Association
General Headquarters (Corp.), who plays Taikan and AKIHITO YAGI (Fifth Dan), instructor in
International Meibukan Goju Ryu Karate, who plays Giryu.

Here's a clip from the film where Taikan challenges a respected and feared karate instructor to a fight in his own dojo in front of his students,watched closely by Taikan's paymasters - the Japanese military. The clip shows the full range of what karate has to offer in terms of strikes, kicks, takedowns and even a bit of ground fighting....

This next clip comes towards the end of the film when Taikan (Shotokan) and Giryu (Goju Ryu) fight to decide which one of them will inherit their late Sensei's black belt and thus become the head of the dojo. This scene is shot in black and white to add even more drama and ends in a real slug fest in the mud!

As you've probably gathered the film is in Japanese with English subtitles but the this does not detract from the film at all. I definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants to know what real full contact karate looks like outside a rule bound competition arena. This film is available from Amazon.

Heres a link to some more info on this film:
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Rick Matz said...

Great clips! Thanks.

Felicia said...

Too funny - because I was just talking about this movie with a training partner today. We bought a copy for my sensei for Christmas in 2010. He loved it - so much so that hardly a class went by when he wasn't discussing a technique or two used in the film to illustrate something he was trying to get us to "see." Unfortunately, none of us had copies - and we all decided to get each other the same thing this year for Christmas: Kuro Obi! One of my training partners just got around to watching her copy yesterday. She sent me a text early this morning about how much she liked it - especially the final fight scene. That's what I suspect all-out karate is like - complete with pauses to gasp for air, misses and total, utter exhaustion. Loved it!

Rig said...

Looks like a great film, it's also available on LoveFilm so I've added it to my DVD rental queue.

Sue C said...

Rick, you're welcome!

Felicia, funny you discussing this film at the same time - life's full of coincidences!

Rig, you won't regret it...

Charles James said...

I viewed it in its entirety a while back when someone had it on youtube for a while. I enjoyed it a lot and will purchase a copy or at least rent it when it comes available to my DVD outlets.

The Strongest Karate said...

Thanks for the find, Sue.

There is a distinct lack of REAL martial arts in what passes for the "martial arts genre" in movies. I think this is because it is just so much easier for movie makers to make something eye popping when people are all "crouching tiger-ing" around and performing crescent kicks to disarm a rifle bearing bad-guy. So when a movie like this comes around it is a real treat for someone like me.

This one is going right to the top of my queue!


Sue C said...

Charles, glad you enjoyed it ;-)

Brett, there's definitely a shortage of authentic films like this - hope you enjoy it as much as me!

Anonymous said...

Although this is only movie-fighting I was not impressed. If this is representative for real karate as you claim I'm glad I'm training in styles that are more realistic: these block - kick/punch sequences are outdated and will give you no advantage in a fight, certainly not if the opponent also had training. Your only chance of winning with these techniques is to be faster than your opponent, that and hoping he's not trained in a contact sport like boxing or muay thai or you will have your ass handed to you. I'd never fight with a low guard or a deep stance since you'll severly compromise your mobility and protection.

One question though: I was under the impression that traditional karate limited its kicks to the low line, why are these men who are supposed to be fighting for real throwing flashy high kicks anyone can see coming a mile away?

Sue C said...

Anon. Sorry you didn't like it, all I can say is that I'd rather be facing a mindless street thug than one of those skilled karateka. Speed is the essence of good karate so it is likely that a skilled karateka would be faster than the opponent.

With regard to kicks - like you say, it was only movie-fighting and you're right to point out that good kicks are kept low. I expect the high kicks were added for show.


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