Sunday, January 17, 2010

Karate with sensei Iain Abernethy

sensei Iain Abernethy 5th dan Wado ryu karate-do karateka

Sensei Iain Abernethy is one of the first modern day karate-do practitioners who has become a pioneer, innovator, explorer and researcher, sensei Abernethy along with others in his field has revealed the truth about kata and its place in karate-do,

In years gone by although nearly all traditional karate styles have kata at the heart of their karate-do, many karateka even senior instructors didn't really know why and if a student asked this question he would get all sorts of different answers.

Generally kata and kumite where treated as separate entities and you either concentrated on one or the other depending on your inclination towards training and competition.

Who would have thought that kata and kumite go together like hand in glove during training sessions and that there is no better way to train than the mixing of these two during training.

Karate-do has long range devastating techniques coupled with accuracy, nerves of steel, intestinal fortitude and the indomitable spirit that make up its dueling matches from a distance in the form of shobu ippon competition, no matter what some say I would rather have these qualities than not.

Karate-do also has the closer-in (medium range) of continuous kumite that is found in regular dojo sparring, but the close quarter combat (CQC) is all in the kata. So if you have experience in all these ranges that's a damn good formulae for self defence in my book.

In the dark ages before pioneer karateka like sensei Abernethy shed some light on kata and its function most dojos concentrated on the bells and whistles of striking and kicking which karate has become renowned for.

In my case anyway, kata was a set routine that you learnt for your next belt, apart from that and a good cardio work out most karateka never payed much attention to kata and would have gladly spent their time doing some form of kumite with a partner rather than practice kata.

Who would have thought all those many moons ago when you first donned your white belt and always felt that kata for all practical purposes was nothing more than a non essential obstacle that always bit into valuable kihon and kumite training time.

That's right who would have thought kata contained such things as throws, grappling and take downs, holds, grappling escapes and many other techniques that these days are generally associated with Judo, Jujitsu and Aikido.

Not I thats for sure, maybe that's what Funakoshi sensei is referring to below, maybe he's saying karate-do has alot in common with its grappling counter parts like Judo, Jujitsu and Aikido.

"There are many kinds of martial arts, a fundamental level these arts rest on the same basis. It is no exaggeration to say that the original sense of Karate-Do is at one with the basis of all martial arts. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form itself. The kara of Karate-Do means this." Gichin Funakoshi

All kata champions have excellent kata technique and solo or team performances, all kumite champions also have a very high standard in kata technique and solo performance, I dont think I have ever met a kumite champion who had bad kata technique or bad kata performance.

Whether the solo performance of a kata helps in perfecting one's kihon (basic) technique is viable, kata apart from the solo performance can be used in so many ways during training its almost an inexhaustible resource, reference and library for methods, tactics, strategy, combinations and techniques.

Sensei Iain Abernethy has opened the door for many traditional karateka who have an interest in this area and he has given us ignorant karateka (me) a different perspective into kata and its relevance to becoming proficient in self defence.

If you're a karateka and all this talk about kata and its place in karate-do is foreign to you and you don't know what the heck I'm on about.

Then I would recommend consulting one of the best resources available in this field, that is sensei Iain Abernethy's instructional material (Books & DVD's) is a great starting point to begin your education about kata and its place in karate-do training and self defence.

Sensei Iain Abernethy's website and blog here,

Below are some of sensei Iain Abernethy's seminars where he takes us through some of the various and unlimited kata applications.

Beyond Bunkai Trailer (Naihanchi Tekki Shodan)

Ying and Yang of KarateSeminar Vol.2 with Ian Abernethy

Ian Abernethy Masters Seminar - DVD available now