Kata And Its Bunkai Is Like A Sword

The following is para-phrased from part of a lesson given by Sensei Pete Manning 6th Dan Shotokan Karate, during the recent residential course hosted by the Traditional Shotokan Karate Association:-

“Kata is like a sword.  If you strive only for technical excellence, then it is like putting the sword in a glass case and hanging it on a wall for display.

However, if you learn how to use and apply the kata bunkai, then it is like taking down the sword from the glass case on the wall and actually using it”.

I liked the analogy, so I thought it was worth sharing.

 

Adaptive Karate Bunkai With Sensei John Johnston 6th Dan

I have featured Sensei John Johnston, 6th Dan Shotokan Karate a few times before.  I’ve published an interview with him, done a write up of a private class that I’ve been privileged to have with him and he’s been my “Featured Martial Artist” in one of my newsletters.

However, it occurred to me that I’ve never included any videos of him teaching his own Adaptive Karate.  So below are some videos from Sensei John Johnston’s own Youtube channel demonstrating kata bunkai.

 

Advanced Karate Bunkai Course (Open To All Styles)

karate kata bunkai jutsu
karate kata bunkai jutsu

This course is another opportunity for interested martial artists to spend three hours studying the analysis of Shotokan Karate’s massive potential as a method of dealing with realistic acts of violence.   Many martial artists tend to spend the majority of their time training in grading related material and as such do not develop enough realistic Martial skills.  My Sensei, Paul Mitchell 5th Dan, has devoted much of his 30 years training studying practical martial Arts and he is happy to pass on his knowledge to any interested party regardless of style or discipline.  All grades welcome however juniors are required to be minimum 4th Kyu/Kup unless training with a parent.

It is on Sunday, 27 May, from 11:00 until 14:00.

Adults £15.00, Juniors £12.00.

The Venue is the Sports Centre, Wells Blue School, Wells, Somerset, UK (please bring a packed lunch).

To book your place please e mail: shotokankaratewells@hotmail.co.uk or telephone 01749 670105

For more info, please check out the Facebook Event Page.

Sensei Paul Mitchell’s Karate Kata Bunkai

Following on from my earlier posting dated 29 Jan 12, Sensei Paul Mitchell has uploaded some more videos onto his Youtube channel.  These videos are taken from his recent Practical Shotokan: Beginner To Black Belt Course which covered various aspects of Karate Kata bunkai.

Sadly I missed it due to work commitments, but here are some of the highlights.

 

A Private Class With John Johnston, 6th Dan

Having recently completed an interview with Sensei John Johnston, I was lucky enough to secure a private lesson with him.  Having discussed his approach to realistic Karate for self defence and the Adaptive Karate that he teaches in his seminars, Sensei Johnston was keen to show me in more detail and I was very keen to learn from him.  So John came down from Coventry with his wife Elaine, who is a 2nd Dan, and we had a class.

It started of with some open hand techniques in basic form including Outer Knife Hand Strike, Inner Knife Hand Strike, Palm Heel, Spear Hand and Ridge Hand. Many clubs do not place much emphasis on these techniques outside of Kata, so I was happy to see this.  Also, although some of these techniques are circular in function, many Shotokan clubs/associations perform them in a linear fashion.  This is probably because they are more easy to control when performed linear, and therefore better for Kata competition (for anybody who receives Shotokan Karate Magazine, this was discussed by Scott Langely in Issue 109).

Anyway, when I saw John perform them in a circular fashion, it re-affirmed to me that he was a practical man, rather than one who wanted to simply look good.  After practicing them forward (with leading hand) and stepping back (with reverse hand), Elaine and I were invited to use some of them on a focus mitt.  After observing us, John had two main points that he wanted to make.  Firstly that the strike should go right through the target (whereas some people focus on the target itself).

Secondly, being 2nd and 3rd Dans we should be making more use of shuffling the body forward (sliding step) with the strike to put more body weight behind the target, rather than simply performing the strike in our basic stationary forward stance.  This is part of where his “adaptive” principles come in.  Rather than regimenting a set stance and/or step, as Elaine and I are of quite different builds, the way that we use the sliding step and the amount of penetration through the target focus mitt would be different and we had to adjust to our own physiques.

A similar exercise was carried out with kicking.  After practicing basic Front Kick a few times, John explained that usually in Karate, we aim the kick to the stomach. This is not the best target as it is relatively easy to defend against and the stomach muscles are the hardest in the body. Even a kick to the groin is not such a good target as it is a relatively small target and again quite easy to defend (and very intuitive to defend against simply be bringing knees together).

John told us to use the opponents thigh as a kind of “runway”, so that the kicking foot almost “runs up the opponents thigh”.  This is so as to aim for the hip joint or pubic bone.  If you get the hip joint you easily collapse the opponents structure leaving him very vulnerable to any follow up attack that you like.  If you get the pubic bone, it is very painful and not quite so easy to defend against as a stomach attack.

Next it was kicks against a kick shield.  Starting with Front Kick, where the kicking foot was pulled back (after the kick) to the supporting foot, whilst the supporting foot rotated, so that the back was facing the opponent.  From here, we were to kick again with a Back Thrust Kick. The idea is to set up the opponent, so that they think if the first kick has missed and that you have left yourself turned and vulnerable.  When they try to move in to take advantage, you immediately kick with a Back Thrust Kick and they just run onto it.

Again the “adaptive” principle came into play and the Back Thrust Kick could be delivered from either leg, depending on which leg we favoured, our balance and distance to the target.  John likes to give and opening technique and then you adapt to the follow up which suits you best.  He will give a few examples, but then leave it to the individual to decide what suits them best (just as long as it works).

Next followed some applications from Heian Godan.  Firstly the opening sequence of Inside Block followed by Reverse Punch (both in back stance).  When performing the Inside Block, the reverse hand (which is usually just seen as the “pull back hand”) was the hand used to perform the actual block.  The hand which is normally seen as performing the “block” was used to push the opponents arm and put them off-balance. Then of course follow up with Reverse Punch and anything else that just felt right at the time.  John explained that he did not hold with the idea of one application being used just for one given attack.  It has to be capable of being adapted to a range of different attacks. Hence John had Elaine and I using this application against punches from both sides and both straight and hooking punches.  John explained that without this kind of versatility, you can come unstuck if you practiced an application against only one type of attack, then somebody came in with something slightly different.

We also examined the low X-Block.  Typically this is explained as blocking a kick which is very impractical.  John had us looking at the scenario of somebody stabbing to the body with a knife.  The leading hand of the X-Block was used to block/strike the attacking arm, knocking it downwards, whilst the other arm simply used as a punch to the opponents forearm to incapacitate the arm and neutralise the immediate threat of the knife.  This was followed up by whatever felt natural and Elaine and I (being very different builds) experimented with different variations.

Overall, it was a very interesting and enjoyable lesson, for which I am very grateful.  Having worked the doors for many years, John is very sure of what will and what won’t work in the real world.  He sees a lot of bunkai being taught which simply would not work under pressure.  The hallmark of John’s methods are that they are direct, effective, and for an experienced martial artist they can be used almost instantly without having to drill them for weeks to internalise them. I would recommend John to anybody in traditional martial arts who wants to make sure that their art is practical and valid on the streets.

To find out a bit more about how John teaches, you can check out his Youtube channel at: www.youtube.com/user/shotokanjohnny.  Alternatively you can check out his main website where you can also contact him and book him for seminars at:  www.adaptivekarate.com.

Practical Shotokan Course: Karate Kata Bunkai

The following video clip is taken from the Practical Shotokan: Beginner to Black Belt Course taught by Sensei Paul Mitchell, Chief Instructor of the Wells Traditional Shotokan Karate Club earlier on today.  Sensei Mitchell is talking about stand alone karate kata bunkai which could be fight finishers by themselves.  As Shotokan Karate puts a lot of emphasis on multiple assailants, there are many techniques which can incapacitate an opponent very quickly, although they are not always obvious and have been dumbed down a lot over the years for many social and political reasons.

Kaki Waki Uke (Reverse Wedge Block) is usually seen as breaking somebody’s grip when they try to strangle you.  However, if they have both of their hands on you, why not just punch/strike them?  It is much quicker, they have nothing to defend themselves with (as they’ve committed both of their hands to your neck) and it could finish the fight then and there.  If you use Kaki Waki Uke to separate their arms and release their grip, then you can both continue the fight on an even basis.

So what is Kaki Waki Uke more useful for?  Well one of the most common street attacks of all is a swinging haymaker, which as Sensei Mitchell demonstrates here can be easily stopped with one side of the Kaki Waki Uke.  Note that when he does this, that his opponent head is jerked slightly downwards and onto the other arm with is attacking to the neck.

In this instance Sensei Mitchell quite lightly attacks a specific point on the  opponent neck causing him to almost pass out straight away.  Had the blow been delivered with any real force, the opponent would have out cold.

Now if you’re thinking multiple opponents, you want techniques which give instant results and doesn’t waste a lot of your own energy (which you’ll need for fighting the others).  Sensei Mitchell demonstrates how this can be done very simply using a common technique which most people happily overlook on a regular basis.

 

Practical Shotokan – Beginner to Black Belt – Sunday 29th Jan 2012

Sorry for short notice, but this course is being run my very own Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan.  Any course by Paul is always worth attending.  Sadly, I’m not going to be able to make this on myself due to work commitments, but I highly recommend it if you can.

karate kata bunkai jutsu
karate kata bunkai

The course will be held on Sunday 29th January from 11:15am to 2:15pm.

As usual with Sensei Mitchell, this course will teach Karate bunkai including practical locks, take-downs and throws as well as the more obvious strikes and kicks.  These defences will be geared against ordinary everyday street attacks, rather than traditional Karate Lunge Punches  and Front Kicks.  The techniques and principles taught will come from basic techniques through to complex kata.

All Karateka of any style and grade are welcome, though there is a minimum age of 12 for anybody below 4th Kyu.

For adults it is £15.00 and for juniors it is £12.00.  To book a place please email shotokankaratewells@hotmail.co.uk, or call 01749 670105.

Enjoy a great course.

Christmas 2 For 1 DVD Offer: Only On Amazon

For anybody interested in my DVD’s, you can get both for the price of one, only from Amazon.  If you buy Inside Bassai Dai, (Bassai Dai kata and bunkai) you’ll get 10 Kicking Tips free with it.  You can see on the store page, that both have had good feedback from customers who have brought them.

Just follow the link below.  It might make an unexpected Christmas present from somebody!

Karate Bunkai Seminar

This weekend on Sunday 30th, there will be a great Karate Bunkai seminar, hosted at the Bristol Dojo, 74-78 Avon Street, Bristol, BS2 0PX, UK.

The seminar will explore the principles of practical application of concepts & principles of Karate kata as viewed from 2 different styles.

Simon O’Brien, 6th Dan Wado Ryu will teach from 2.00 to 3.30pm.  Simon has a practical leaning, being a member of the British Combat Association, having trained many times with World renowned kata bunkai expert Iain Abernethy and in Combat JuJutsu with Kevin O’Hagan.

From 3.30 to 5.00pm – Dan Lewis 6th Dan Goju Ryu takes over.  Dan has a wide experience in Kyokushinkai Karate, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Ju Jutsu and other styles, before settling into Goju Ryu Karate which he felt was a very complete system encompassing all the best of each.

For those who like the history, originally in Okinawa there were two main styles of Karate, Naha Te and Shuri Te.

Naha Te is believed to be mainly based on White Crane and Praying Mantis Kung Fu and evolved into Goju Ryu.

Shuri Te was largely based on White Crane, but further developed by the Okinawans to make it more linear.  This evolved on into Shorin Ryu, then Shotokan, which spawned many other styles including Wado Ryu.  However, Wado Ryu also has a lot of Ju Jutsu incorporated into it as well.

So this Karate bunkai seminar will have the best of both of Okinawa’s two original styles which should make it particularly interesting.

Cost is £10 and the minimum age is 13.

Truly Inspirational Karate Bunkai

Just seen this on another blog and had to share it.  It features Sensei’s John LiButti and Allan Acosta, (not sure which is which) of the U.S.Kodokan Federation demonstrating some Karate bunkai.  It just goes to show what can be done when the mind is set to it.  You can’t help but to respect this guy, what an example to all of us.