Understanding Kata and the WCA (podcast)

This month’s podcast is a mix of topics! The first part examines the nature of kata, and many of the misunderstandings surrounding kata, using the following quotation from Gichin Funakoshi as a jumping off point:

"Like textbooks to a student or tactical exercises to a solider, kata are the most important element of karate.”

This line contains two great analogies that really get to the heart of things! It is the ramifications of these analogies that we explore in the first third of the podcast. Kata is NOT a solo re-enactment of a fight! Instead, kata is a repository of knowledge that, when correctly approached, can be freely and flexibly applied in the ever-changing world of conflict. This was the viewpoint that was clearly expressed by the masters of the past.

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Martial virtues and warrior ethics

In this new podcast we cover martial virtues and warrior ethics! The podcast begins by discussing character development in the martial arts and how that relates to effective combat skills. We then move on to cover martial virtues and warrior ethics as found in the writings of the past masters and others. We also look at the relationship between virtue and valour, and show how virtue is not passively adhering to a tick list of prohibited actions, but instead requires critical thought, bravery and positive action.

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Your Questions! (podcast)

Welcome to one of the longest podcasts we’ve ever done! It’s been a while since I last turned the podcast over to listeners and asked for questions and topics; so in this one I put that right! I asked for questions via Facebook, Twitter and the newsletters and got way more than I could possibly answer! Thanks to all who contributed!

I printed them all off and did my best to answer as many as I could in the time available. Here are just some of the topics covered:

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The Case for Kihon (podcast)

In this podcast we discuss basic kihon training. For practitioners of arts other than karate, “kihon” generally refers to the practice of techniques without a partner or equipment. Typically it’s done in lines where the karateka goes up and down the room.

While kihon practise forms a significant part of modern karate training, it would be fair to say that many now question its value and, on my travels, I even see some abandoning the practise all together. It is my view that kihon is a vital part of the mix, but it needs to be the right kind of kihon and be part of a holistic training matrix.

In this podcast I’d therefore like to explain the role I think kihon training should have, and then elaborate to explain how it can be most efficiently and effectively practised.

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Self-Protection: Viking Style! (podcast)

Put on your horned-helmets and pick up your battle axes … it’s time to look at self-protection: Viking Style!

This podcast looks at a Viking wisdom poem (which is well over 1000 years old) and discuss the bits that relate to personal safety, self-protection and success in battle. As I hope you will agree, much of it rings true today and has quite a bit in common with the advice and guidance we find passed down to us in the traditional martial arts.

The poem covers awareness, dealing with difficult and potentially violent people, the causes of conflict, good personal safety habits, martial focus, what is worth fighting for and what is not, the difference between the wise use of discretion and cowardice, and a lot more!

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Kakapo-Do: How NOT to be a practitioner!

If you’ve been in the martial arts for more than five minutes you can help but be struck by the vast number of animal names associated with techniques and styles. We have cat stance, horse stance, the anaconda choke, gator rolls, white crane kung fu, “crane on a rock” (Gankaku kata), Enpi (Japanese for the Swallow), and so on.

We have lions, bears, tigers, cranes, snakes, monkeys, leopards and many more.

However, I feel we are missing one animal. It’s an animal that accurately reflects the state of much of modern martial arts. The animal in question is a bird called the “Kakapo”; which is why I’ve called this podcast “Kakapo-do” or “The Way of the Kakapo”.

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10 things the martial arts should have taught you about life (podcast)

Happy new-year everyone! In the first podcast of 2015 we look at “10 things the martial arts should have taught you about life”.

I’m a great believer in the ability of the martial arts to both enhance as well as preserve life. Gichin Funakoshi’s 10th precept is “Put Karate into your everyday life and you will find its subtle secrets.”

There are lessons that are learnt in the microcosm of the dojo that we can apply to the macrocosm of everyday life. So for this podcast, I thought we’d look at 10 lessons that you should have learnt from your time in the dojo that apply to everyday life and, if you take them to heart, they can help make the next 12 months more productive and enjoyable than they may otherwise have been.

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The requirements of a moral, healthy and effective approach to violence (podcast)

In the final podcast of 2014 we discuss the requirements of a moral, healthy and effective approach to violence. The mix of effective self-protection skills and the development of character is the common goal of most martial arts. In this episode I use the model of the three As (Appreciation, Ability and Attitude) to ensure our approach to unprovoked criminal violence is both effective and in keeping with the morality of the martial arts.

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What makes a technique a karate technique? (podcast)

In this podcast I wish to discuss what constitutes a “karate technique”. Or in other words, what makes a technique a part of karate? Can techniques be added to practise and legitimately be considered to be part of karate? And what of “forgotten” techniques that were once part of practise? Are they no longer karate techniques? How do we define a “karate technique” anyway?

While it may seem this is one of those pedantic discussions that are so prevalent in the martial arts, I would suggest it’s an important question that has a huge impact on how karate is practised today and the future course it will take.

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Kata - Dead or Alive (podcast)

Welcome to the latest podcast! In this episode we discuss what differentiates a living kata from a dead one. When karateka commonly talk about kata being “alive” what they are referring to is a vigorous performance; as opposed to a lacklustre one. However, to my way of thinking, a kata needs far more than simply looking “lively” to be truly alive!

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