More Articles by Iain Abernethy
In this article I want to look at the logical basis for the various approaches to kata application. I’m of the view that analysing things from a logical perspective makes a compelling case for the best way to approach kata. From there, the article then looks at how the discussion about kata and bunkai needs to change. And it does need to change!
MMA (mixed martial arts) is without a doubt the biggest thing to happen to the martial arts in the last few decades. It has seen the martial arts become mainstream as a spectator sport for the very first time and it has had a very big influence on the martial arts generally.
I’ve been thinking about the term “practical” and its relationship to the martial arts. What is practical karate and how is that different from standard karate? Shouldn’t all takes on karate be practical? What would be the point of “impractical karate”?
The Google online dictionary has “practical” defined as:
1, Suitable for a particular purpose
2, Likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances
On the 4th of November 2005 I had the privilege of interviewing Grand Master Haruyoshi Yamada when he visited the UK. This interview was on the old website and it has been a total oversight that it has not been posted here until now. Yamada was a joy to talk to (through an interpreter) and I felt that a lot of fascinating information was shared in the interview. I was particularly interested in his descriptions of his training with Chojiro Tani and the naming of the jujutsu style Kenwa Mabuni is said to have taught Tani along with karate and kobudo.
Is an understanding of the history of karate important? Or is it an irrelevant distraction from the pursuit of combative efficiency? Perhaps it can be both? As I see it “history” can be a force for either progress or stagnation and in this article I would like to talk about a number of issues relating to karate’s history and how that may effect our approach to the art today.
Although I’ve trained in a few different arts, it is karate that remains my central passion. I love the art of karate and I am a great believer in it. However, I believe that we do the art a great disservice if we deny it has any faults and take the view that the art has reached a state of perfection.
Chinto kata has a fascinating history and it is necessary to have some understanding of that history if we are to understand the kata itself. The creator of the kata was Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura (1809—1902) who played a huge role in the development of karate and who was also the chief bodyguard to three Okinawan kings. Matsumura is believed to have studied under Tode Sakugawa, Iwah, Ason, Kushanku and, crucially for the purposes of this article, he also studied under a shipwrecked Chinese martial artist who went by the name Chinto.