What Does An Ore, A Handbag & Half A Brick Have In Common?

The video below recently came to me via my Youtube subscription. It is the old Okinawan kata of Chikin Sunakake No Eiku by Akamine Hiroshi.  This is a weapon that originated from a humble oar.

There is a story of an old Okinawan master who was famed for being good with this weapon, who was repeatedly challenged by a Samurai.  He declined the challenges several times until eventually the Samurai confronted him and told him this it is, basically you fight or die.  As the Okinawan Master reluctantly picked up his oar, he used it to Continue reading “What Does An Ore, A Handbag & Half A Brick Have In Common?”

Interview with Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate

I have written previously about Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate, and his book Shotokan Myths.

Note:  For non-Japanese stylists, Shihan means a master level instructor, (above an ordinary Sensei).

This is one master that I particularly hold in very high respect for 2 main reasons.  Firstly is that through his book Shotokan Myths, he seeks to give us (mainly in the West) the real truths behind much of the mysticism and mis-information that has built up over the years for social, political and even commercial reasons.  The honesty and directness is very refreshing.

Secondly is that he truly understands the difference between Western and Eastern thinking and applies it Continue reading “Interview with Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate”

Kata Bunkai For End Of Heian/Pinan Sandan

The video below covers the end movement from Heian/Pinan Sandan. It was posted on my Facebook page, so I thought I would share it here too.

It features Master Will Higginbothan of the Ryukyu Dojo in Indianapolis, USA. Continue reading “Kata Bunkai For End Of Heian/Pinan Sandan”

Kata Bunkai From Gojushiho Sho Kata Course

A little while ago I posted about a recent kata course hosted by my own Sensei, Paul Mitchell, 4th Dan.  Well they’ve had a re-organisation of their Youtube channel and the Youtube link in that posting is now showing as “this video has been removed by user”.  However, they’ve put some more up which are well worth watching, so here they are below.

They are all bunkai taken from the kata Gojushiho Sho. Continue reading “Kata Bunkai From Gojushiho Sho Kata Course”

The Martial Arts Paradox: By Russell Stutely

I received the following posting from Russell Stutely as I’m signed up to his newsletter.  I thought it made such a good point that I decided to share it with you.  It emphasises the point that I keep trying to make about learning your kata bunkai and understanding what the moves are really for.  I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading “The Martial Arts Paradox: By Russell Stutely”

Endorsment By Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8th Dan Shotokan Karate

Shihan Kousaku Yokota is an 8th Dan at Shotokan Karate with a special interest in uncovering myths and getting to the truth (hence releasing his own book, Shotokan Myths on the subject).

I am therefore very honoured to have received the following endorsement by from him on his Facebook page, about my DVD, Inside Bassai Dai.

“Over the holidays I had a very pleasant experience watching one Shotokan bunkai DVD. It is called Inside Bassai Dai created by Sensei Charlie Wildish, UK. I found the bunkai in it to be realistic and easy to learn. He demonstrates how some of the techniques are applied. I was particularly pleased to see the application for double uchi uke (inside forearm blocks). He interprets them as a uke followed by a uraken”.

I have trained under a number of senior Japanese and British instructors in my time.  But none of them have been as dedicated to exposing the political, social and sporting influences on Karate which have altered the way we train and consequently watered down Shotokan as a martial art as is Shihan Yokota.  This is why his personal endorsement is very special to me.  If he approves then it not only means that I can be satisfied with my DVD, but my whole understanding of Karate as a real martial art (rather than just a sport) must be moving in the right direction.

It will be very difficult to get closer to the true source and understanding of real traditional Karate today than the teachings of Shihan Yokota.  This is why I am very excited to have this endorsement and why I thank him very much for it.

Bunkai For Shuto Uke (Knife Hand Block)

This video was supplied by Chuck Philips of International Martial Arts Management Systems.  In the video is Sensei John Kerker performing an interesting application for Shuto Uke (knife hand block).  I haven’t seen this particular application before, but I like it.  It is slightly Wing Chun like, deflecting, sticking, trapping and countering.  But as Karate was largely derived from Kung Fu, then this should not surprise us.

You can find out more about Chuck Philips at www.IMAMS.com and I would like to thank him for submitting this video.

[Shuto Uke bunkai]

Kata Bunkai for Nujishiho (Niseishi) Part 3

In the last video Keith I posted on this blog, we looked at the rather odd sequence near the end of kata Nujishiho (Niseishi), where the movements do not fit the usual way of generating power in Karate (or at least, not the Shotokan way of doing this kata) and the chambering position of the reaction hand is unusual too.  If you haven’t seen that post, then it might make more sense to read that one first, then come back to this one.

I had planed to show 2 applications to that sequence in the last post, but my SD card on my camera maxed out and I could only get the one application.  So here is the second one that I had wanted to show you.

I know that some other styles do this kata differently, so please tell us about it and let us know if you think this would work for your version.

[Nujishiho bunkai]

Kata Bunkai For Nijushiho/Niseishi Part 2

Nijushiho is one of my favorite katas.  I passed my 2nd Dan with it more years ago than I care to remember.  I posted about it’s opening sequence in September.   This time we look at one of the sequences towards the end.

The version of the kata that I describe is the Shotokan version which of course may be performed differently in other styles.  In the Shotokan version, this is an unusual sequence as we step into horse stance and perform an upper rising elbow strike at approximately a 45 degree angle, shuffle sideways and perform a punch (in direction of shuffle) at the same time as our reaction hand comes back to our ear (instead of the hip), then we shuffle back and perform a lower block.

The elbow strike is obvious enough, but why the shuffle/punch.  If we wanted to deliver a finishing punch, why not rotate the hips and put more power into it?  This punch is unique in Karate.  We have similar punches in the Tekki (Naihanchi) katas where perform and hook punch and later a double punch, both parallel to our horse stance.  But these punches in Tekki still have some hip movement (often referred to a hip “vibration”).  There is no hip vibration in this punch in Nijushiho.  The only thing that powers it is the speed of the arm and the shuffle, which although still fairly powerful, it is still weaker than most other Karate punches.

Why do we chamber our reaction hand by our ear instead of our hip?

The chambering by the ear could be for the down block to follow, but even that leads to more questions.  If you’ve just elbowed somebody to the head then punched them, they should not be in a fit state to attack you back, so you shouldn’t need to block.  And if you are blocking them, why does the kata then turn you in a different direction rather than finishing off the guy who has just attacked you?

Most of you will realise that blocks can also be strikes, so maybe this is a strike.  However, it is done as you shuffle away from your target.  Usually you move your body weight in the direction of the strike, not away from it.  So this lower block (arguably) is not likely to be either a block or strike in the conventional sense.

This would leave me to conclude that the unusual chambering position (by the ear instead of hip) may be doing something in conjunction with the unusual punch.  Have a look at our video to see what we think.

PS:  I did have another application lined up, but my SD card was full.  I’ll put that bunkai on another time.
PPS:  If your style performs this kata but does this sequence differently, then please tell us about it.

Nijushiho

 

Kata: Training Beyond Technique

Much is debated and demonstrated about the fighting applications within kata (patterns/forms), myself included.  But not too much is spoken about the mindset, or mental approach you should take when performing your kata.  Yes we all know that we should concentrate and focus, but beyond that . . . . what?

Whilst we are learning our kata, then obviously a certain amount of our concentration will be on making sure that we get the techniques and sequence correct.  With practice we should be able to perform our kata without having to think about them very much.  So now that we no longer have to think about the movements, what do we think about?  What’s for dinner?  Going for a drink afterwards?  Or how cool we look doing this kata without thinking about it?

Well my answer might surprise some people, especially as a large part of our training is about self development and making ourselves better people.  What I think you should do when you perform a kata that  you know well is to pour all you nastiness, malevolence, viciousness and malice into your kata.  That may sound strange from somebody who believes in self development as well as practicality, but please bear with me.

Real violence is nasty, malevolent, vicious and full of malice; and performing kata (or basics) is a mental rehearsal as well as a physical rehearsal.  Thugs may not have good technique, but they are used to “training” in the “adrenalin zone”. When you have to fight to defend yourself or your loved ones, then you are entering the thugs world of real violence and you have to be able to cope with it.  Adrenalin will effect your body, your perceptions and your ability to think. Your training should be real enough in your mind that you get a small adrenalin rush each time.  Whilst too much adrenalin can be unhealthy, a regular amount at low levels is fine, plus you become more immune to it’s negative effects after a while.  You will be able to remain calmer in a crisis.

Now some people may be concerned that training with this mindset may also train a thuggish mentality.  But as soon as you finish your kata, you step up into Yamae (finish position), you go back to calm.

We train ourselves to “switch on” quickly and “switch off” just as quickly.  If somebody attacks us, we do not want to freeze in shock (which happens even to high grade martial artists).  That said, if we successfully defend ourselves and incapacitate our attacker, we do not want to jump up and down on their prostrate body or perform River-Dance on their head.  We need to be able to stop and not be carried away in the heat of an unfamiliar moment.

As martial artists we need to know when to stop for  legal and even more importantly; for moral reasons.  We need to enter the world of vile malevolence when needed and exit it just as quickly when the job is done.  However, nasty the thug may be, we as martial artists should be able to show mercy once we overpower him/her.  It is part of the Yin & Yang of training and of our development.  Its about balance in our personality.

The only way to have little or no fear of violence is to be good at it.  I am not advocating that you act in a violent manner, but when you know that you can handle yourself in most situations, you project a confidence which most predators of the human world will recognise and they will be more likely to avoid you.  Please note that I say “most situations”, as there will always be someone more experienced or better armed then you.

Most human predators mirror the animal predators.  Think of the lion, king of the jungle.  They hunt in prides, but do they for the big muscular young bull buffalo with the great big horns.

No.

They go for the old, the young, the weak, the one with the gammy leg that can’t run properly.  Basically, for predators its about finding an easy target.  For us training is about making you a hard target, physically and emotionally.  The big fit bull with the horns does not need to threaten the lions, the lions just know.  So it is when you walk with an air of confidence, the human predators just know.

But projecting true confidence is not just about how you walk or your posture.  It’s about knowing that you are prepared physically and mentally should a conflict make it necessary.  As Bruce Lee once said in his films, “the art of fighting without fighting”.

I heard of a study years ago where they got 3 groups and tested them at throwing balls through a basketball hoop.  After recording the results, they had one of the groups practice shooting the balls at the hoop, one of the groups not practice at all; and the third group just visualise throwing balls at the hoop.  Later they tested the three groups again.  The group that practiced improved by something like 24% (if I remember right).  The group that did not practice made no improvement at all.

The amazing thing though was that the group that just visualised throwing the balls improved dramatically, with about a 23% improvement.  Visualisation achieved almost as good a result as doing the real thing.  Therefore whilst practicing kata, using visualisations of the violence and malevolence of the situation can actually help you prepare for it more than most people give it credit for (even if you don’t fully understand the bunkai).  Although good technique is important, unless you are practicing primarily for competition it should not always be your main focus.  Funikoshi said that spirit is more important than technique and he primarily taught by kata rather than kumite (sparring).

This concept may be a bit new to some people.  Whether it’s new to you or not, please leave a comment below to tell me what you think, I’d like to hear from you.