More Articles by Iain Abernethy
In this article I'd like to ask if karate really does contain any grappling? This is a potentially controversial subject as I found out when I wrote my book on the subject in the year 2000. The passing of the years has done little to diminish that controversy. Certainly there is a now a solid interest in this area of study within parts of the traditional community. However, there are many martial artists, from both the traditional and modern fraternity, that believe that such methods have never existed within karate.
In this article I want to challenge some of the commonly held beliefs about the Pinan / Heian series. Although frequently viewed as kata for children or beginners, it is my belief that the Pinan series represent a holistic and frequently brutal combat system. To establish why I believe that to be true, the first thing I want to call into question is the commonly accepted meaning of “Pinan”.
What we refer to as "traditional" in the martial arts often isn't traditional at all. Mention traditional karate today and people immediately think of white gis, coloured belts and marching up and down the hall in lines. All of which are modern practises and none of which would be recognisable to founders of the art.
Iain Abernethy is a leading exponent of applied karate and kata application (bunkai). He has written five books and produced numerous DVDs on his unique approach to kata and traditional karate. Iain is also a member of the Combat Hall of Fame.
There are many differing views on the value of kata. Kata is regarded by some to be the very 'soul' of the martial arts. By others, it's regarded as a complete waste of time. To my mind, both views have merit depending upon what is meant by 'kata' and how it is approached.
The term 'guard' refers to the position in which the hands are held when fighting. There are many differing opinions on which is the 'correct' or 'best' guard position. So where should we hold our hands in order to effectively fight and defend ourselves? Should the hands be held high, as in boxing? Or should they be held lower, as in modern karate? Why all the variations? In this article I'd like to explore these questions, and in particular look at the use and evolution of the guard in karate.