Lost in Karate: Iain Abernethy Residential April 2019
By David Olivan
There I was, in the middle of Steventon New Road, ready to put on my gi and train some practical karate. However, something was missing. The buildings around me looked nothing like the pictures I had seen. There were no people around at all and certainly no signs with the name of the place we were supposed to stay at. I looked around once more but...
I was lost
My phone was on my hand since I had been following Google Maps to get there. I looked for Iain's phone number and I called. after a few rings it went into voicemail but not a minute later Iain called me back. The first words I ever said to him were something like:
Hi Iain, it's David, from the Residential. I'm mostly sure I am NOT at the right place.
David in his first words ever to Iain
Luckily, we quickly deduced I had walked too far down that road and I had to double back and go up a little lane that I had missed before. I'm pretty sure that happened because I was just looking at Google Maps instead of around me. So I picked up my suitcase and trodded up the road and then the lane till I found Iain and the Wandering William, surrounded by the beautiful British countryside.
Wait wait wait, what is this about a karate Residential?
Well for those of you that don't know about it (is that possible? ;) ) the Iain Abernethy Residentials are 4-day long seminars run by one of the leading exponents of applied karate and kata bunkai in the UK, taught by the man himself. They look incredible on paper, and after attending one I can say with certainty that I would have gotten lost in the British countryside about a hundred times just for what came next.
And...what is that?
Well, let's talk figures. About 22 hours of training and learning, 21 modules or topics all about practical karate, from bunkai work on kata like Kushanku or Matsumora no Rohai to Multiple opponents and Incorporating Self-Defense Law. Certainly too many to be listed here, or else I'd run out of space!
Before I got there I wasn't quite sure I could get through all the training in one piece, mainly because of the amount of physical (and mental!) work involved. However, I hadn't taken into account one particular detail that made it all so easy. The people there. The fellow karateka that gathered there for the seminar and that enjoyed and suffered through it just like I did. I honestly believe without the positive environment and mutual support it would all have been a lot harder on everyone.
I'm already finishing, I promise
First of all, I would like to say that for us practically minded karateka the work that Iain does is incredibly useful. Because of that, attending this 4-day long seminar seemed to me the best way of enjoying and learning about practical karate. One of the bits I enjoyed the most, difficult as it may be to choose, is the training we did on Matsumora no Rohai. Mainly because we looked at it from the perspective of it being a complete system by itself. Thus it was great for playing around and seeing how different possibilities and tactics are mapped out in the kata. It called into my mind a little article I wrote on some of the reasons why I think about kata as self-contained systems.
Second, I think being able to meet other practitioners that have the same or similar interests as I do was great. It definitively makes you feel part of the bigger community and I got to know many interesting people!
If you want to check out Iain's work, go to Iain Abernethy's website and enjoy it! ;) I'm gonna finish by saying thank you Iain, and I'm looking forward to the next one!