Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: Sabaki Method – Karate in the Inner Circle.

Sabaki is about “…using an opponent’s power and momentum against him…” The Sabaki Method is the fundamental essence of Enshin Karate.
Founded by Kancho Joko Ninomiya, Enshin Karate is a rather unique style of “Fighting Karate”. Enshin Karate is an offshoot of Kyokushin Karate but it takes the focus on effective fighting a step further. Sabaki Method – Karate in the Inner Circle is the title Kancho Ninomiya’s book which describes the essential elements of this powerful style of Karate.
In the book Ninomiya details the essential strikes, blocks, kicks, and (most importantly) strategy of Enshin Karate. There is also a good deal of philosophy (which is a good thing) throughout the book, a chapter on conditioning (which is basic), a chapter on self defense, and a full description on Enshin’s first two kata.

       What I Liked –
  • The description of the individual techniques is solid and easy to follow. Ninomiya provides both text and black and white photos to describe each strike, block, and takedown.
  • Enshin Karate’s kata are very cool – and untraditional. They are more like prearranged shadow boxing drills than your typical Karate kata. This is one of the main points where Enshin branches away from Kyokushin.
  • Ninomiya provides a way to structure your training time effectively so you can incorporate basics, kata work, heavy bag work, and even sparring into 1-1.5 hour sessions. Very useful stuff for everyone, but especially for beginners.
  • The section on training with a heavy bag great was great and I was exposed to a great method for using the heavy bag to train grabbing your opponent – cool stuff.
  • Speaking of training tools, I also really liked the section on Sabaki with arm guards. The arm guards are similar to Thai pads but are used in a very different way. I prefer using pad in the Thai style but the Enshin method really does help to mix things up from time to time.
  • The book gives detailed information about how to use the Sabaki strategy for actual fighting – for both competition and self defense. After applying these principles in my own fighting I saw a marked improvement. The Sabaki strategy alone is worth the price of the book.
  • Ninomiya’s personal training philosophy is found throughout Sabaki Method. He provides solid insight and displays a high level of understanding of his Enshin Karate.  The philosophy alone is, again, worth the price of the book.
What I didn’t Like –
  • No Sanchin Kata. I would have really liked to have seen a description of Sanchin Kata in Sabaki Method. I’m not sure if Enshin has a Sanchin kata, but I’d be very disappointed if it didn’t.
  • The conditioning section of the book was mediocre. I would have liked to see a more organized version of how Ninomiya prepares his fighters for competition.  Also, some of what he suggests is a little dated from a performance enhancement perspective.
  • I NEED MORE…Heavy Bag! While the heavy bag section was great, I felt it was too brief. I would have liked to see more drills Ninomiya uses with his fighters.

Final Impressions  -
All in all this is a great book. It has some weak points but what’s good about Sabaki Method more than makes up for it. I definitely recommend it for beginners and advanced martial artists of all styles.

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner (donjitsu2)


  1. I have to get this book! Also the Sanchin book!

  2. yeah, I figured the Sabaki book would be right up your alley.


  3. Yo. I finally bought this book! I made sure to go through your link.

  4. Thanks, man! I appreciate the support.

    Though, since you're going to be doing Enshin now you kinda have to have it.


  5. Sanchin kata is not an official Enshin kata, but is practiced at some Enshin dojo.