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Kata and the lesson plan for knife-hand

Kata are not random collections of technique. There is a structure to them which imparts the methods in a logical and ordered way.

In this video, we look at the lesson plan for shuto-uke (“knife hand”) as presented by the kata Kushanku / Kanku-Dai / Kosoken (and Pinan Shodan / Heian Nidan).

The fundamental job of shuto-uke is to get past the enemy’s limbs so the forearm or hand can get to the target. This is “Lesson 1” as presented by the kata.

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Jion Throw (Hanashiro Version)

This video looks at a leg scooping throw we can see in Jion kata; specifically the version of Chomo Hanashiro. Where this version differs from most is the “manji-uke, morote-uke” sequence where the feet come together is instead performed as “gedan-barai (back arm across the chest), morote-uke” and the feet remain stationary. This variation looks very much like the leg-scoping throw discussed in the video.

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Naihanchi / Tekki Sandan Bunkai Drill (video)

This video shows a summary of a two-person flow drill for the entirety of Tekki Sandan / Naihanchi Sandan. The drill follows the kata, move for move, and can be repeated endlessly. Tekki Sandan / Naihanchi Sandan builds on the methods introduced by the preceding two kata and is essential a kata to teach more advanced limb-control.

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Sochin Bunkai (video)

This video looks at the bunkai of Sochin kata (Shotokan version). It starts by looking at the opening sequence and shows how the three repeats can be put together in a drill which has you doing the movement forward, when taking an angle to the enemy, and when the enemy tries to put you back online. This is not a “combination” to be applied “as is”, but a way to drill the sequence in a quick way that covers the key variations.

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Three Bunkai Drills for Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan

This video quickly recaps three drills for the bunkai of Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan. The first drill strings together four of the key strikes in a way that encourages consistent contact with the enemy’s limbs. Karateka should also drill the strikes in alternate sequences and the purpose of this drill was to provide an illustration of concept. The second drill follows the order of the kata, except that multiple elbows are thrown in order to include the various ways the kata can get us past the enemy’s limbs if they block (either going back or forward a move).

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Integrating Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan, Nidan and Sandan

This video shows a summary of some of the drills we covered at a two-day seminar in Stuttgart, Germany. These drills give examples of how the bunkai of Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan, Nidan and Sandan can be integrated together. Kata bunkai should always be applied in a fluid and flexible way. As Genwa Nakasone wrote, “Never be shackled by the rituals of kata but instead move freely according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses”.

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Funakoshi’s Half-Wheel Throw on the Pads

This video shows a way to drill Funakoshi’s Half-Wheel Throw on the focus mitts. In order to practise karate as a holistic and practical system, we need to resurrect the throws that were a key part of “old school karate”. To understand our kata, we also need to appreciate the wide range of methods found within them. The traditional kata include throws, locks, trapping, chokes, strangles, etc. It is when people don’t appreciate this that we see kata reinterred to be just strikes, kicks and dysfunctional “blocks”. Karate is so much more.

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Punching an advancing target after throwing a kick

In this video, we look at an intermediate fighting pad drill. It’s not a self-defence drill because – while there is some cross over – the context and methodology is for one-on-one consensual fighting. The drill has us throw a punching combination into a high kick (always a good idea to have the hands set up kicks). As the kick lands, the pad-holder pushes forward. This simulates the idea of the kick being blocked and a counterpunch being thrown. The forward motion from the pad-holder forces the striker to punch as the leg is recovering.

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Suspension Training for Practical Karateka

A suspension trainer is a piece of kit that I think all martial artists should have. It effectively allows you to have an entire gym in your kit bag and it’s the only bit of kit I’ve used that comes close to the effects of weight lifting. Your bodyweight provides the resistance and you can quickly alter the length of the straps depending upon which exercise you want to do. A high-quality brand can be expensive, but you can get fully functional cheaper versions that will do the job just fine. A very versatile piece of kit that can be used in innumerable ways.

All the best,

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Naihanchi / Tekki Nidan with "Dirt" Added

In this video we explore some bunkai for the opening sequence of Tekki / Naihanchi Nidan. Once the techniques have been covered, the video then looks at how we should “add in the dirt” i.e. practise the methods of the kata in context. The emphasis is on applying the bunkai of the kata, in combination with other methods, in a dominating, free-flowing way in order to facilitate escape. This makes the practise of the bunkai more realistic and is a vital step along the way to live practise.

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