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In all of my books and videos there are deliberate differences between my kata and my paired application (oyo) that has resulted from my analysis (bunkai).

“Practicing a kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.”

Gichin Funakoshi, Twenty Precepts

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There is a difference between training (for development and/or testing of skills) and utilizing those skills outside of your training, whether in a competitive format, in scenario training or in an unsolicited violent situation.

What we do in training is a game. That is true whether you are competing in any of the top-level martial arts competitions or whether you are engaging in the most realistic self defence training possible.

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To kick or not to kick, that is the question.

When it comes to applying martial arts techniques in self defence, context and training methods determine the results. We get good at what we train for.

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Kata, for most of us, is fixed. It is a set construct that we learn and rehearse. It does not vary very much. Over time different instructors have figuratively taken the same block of ice and carved away at some of the edges, added on smaller blocks, broken it down into lots of blocks and reassembled it in a different way, or taken chipped off elements from lots of different blocks to form a new block for others to replicate.

As a state of matter, ice is limited. It is strong, incredibly strong, but not adaptable. It can be cut to fit shapes, but then is limited to those shapes. It is limited to predictable fixed scenarios.

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“In war it is all-important to gain and retain the initiative, to make the enemy conform to your action, to dance to your tune. When you are advancing, this normally follows; if you withdraw, it is neither so obvious nor so easy. Yet it is possible. There are three reasons for retreat: self-preservation, to save your force from destruction; pressure elsewhere which makes you accept loss of territory in one place to enable you to transfer troops to a more vital front; and, lastly, to draw the enemy into a situation so unfavourable to him that the initiative must pass to you.”

Practical Karate Association in High Wycombe

Don’t share our secrets! I’ve come across this refrain in the Traditional Karate Community a number of times. It usually crops up when a person posts a video online where they demonstrate a drill they’ve been taught or a new thing they’ve worked out. Sooner or later somebody pops up and berates them for sharing […]

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The size of the toolbox is not what impresses me; I’m not impressed by high numbers of techniques, drills or kata: it is the versatility of a small carefully stocked toolbox and the user’s ability to skillfully use the best tool for the job that catches my attention.

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Sensei John delivered a remarkable seminar, leaving us with a deeper understanding of the 5 Shotokan Heian Kata. His knowledge on the subject is staggering, spanning some 25 years of training. His teaching method was structured and pleasant and kept all of us involved and interested throughout. It was a fantastic experience for all who took part.

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Have you ever walked down the street holding the hand of a small child, or noticed in passing another adult doing the same? If the adult is not fully focused on the child, but on getting to their destination, they will tend to automatically adopt their normal stride. Alongside them, making many more shorter steps […]

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Karateka across the world owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Okinawan and Japanese instructors who, in the first half of the Twentieth Century, laid the foundations for a little known minority martial art to become one of the most practised in the world today.