Styles: Are They Killing Karate?

styles-podcast-07-2009In this latest podcast we discuss karate styles! Whilst the styles handed down to us are of great value, in this podcast I suggest that if too much emphasis is placed on “style” it can be extremely harmful to karate and its combative efficiency. The podcast begins by looking at what some of the past masters had to say about the notion of style, and then moves on to examine the history of the more commonly practised karate styles.

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Weapon Defence

weapon_defence_picSorry there was no podcast in February. All my time was taken up getting the latest issue of Jissen (free online practical martial arts magazine) ready for download. That issue was our most popular yet and we’re now back with a brand new podcast!

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Strengthening the Mind

Oldest Dojo in KyotoApril’s podcasts sees us discuss mind training! There are lots of differing ways in which people can approach mind training. Not all are too my tastes and I have to be honest and say I’m not that great a fan of some of the more “esoteric” approaches. I am with Gichin Funakoshi that the strengthening of the mind is achieved, not through any flowery / “new-age” practises, but through austere combative training:

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Chinto / Gankaku Kata: Application & History

iain-on-a-rockIn the first podcast of 2009 we will be discussing my views on the history and applications of Chinto / Gankaku kata. This includes a discussion on the kata’s history and the key aspects of its application. The history of the kata has not been definitively established, but it is widely thought that Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura created this kata following a period of instruction from a shipwrecked Chinese martial artist by the name of Chinto. This podcast recounts the story of the kata’s creation and examines the impact this has on how we should view the kata, and how we should apply it.

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James Figg and the Evolution of Boxing

James FiggThis month we will be covering the history and evolution of modern boxing. In particular we will be focusing on the life and times of James Figg (1695 – 1734); who is regarded as the father of modern boxing. As we will see, the boxing that Figg practised and taught was quite different from the boxing of today. Old style boxing included punching, kicking, grappling, throwing, weapons, etc. Indeed, the evolution of boxing has a great deal in common with the evolution of karate. Both arts were originally brutal and holistic, but became more and more specialised as time passed. These parallels are also explored in the podcast.

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Kushanku Kata: History & Application

Funakoshi performing Kushanku

Kushanku kata (also known as ‘Kanku-Dai’ and ‘Kosokun’) is one of the most popular forms in modern karate. It is a physically demanding and visually impressive form (when performed correctly) and it has a great deal to offer the practically minded karateka. In this podcast we will look at the history of the kata and examine some of the key concepts relating to its application.

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Power and Impact

Iain hitting pads held by Peter LakinWould you believe it’s been a full two years since our first podcast! Thanks to everyone for your continued support of them! This month we are discussing the basics of power generation and the use of impact equipment. Being able to strike hard is without a doubt the most important skill needed for the combative side of self-protection. Karate is an art based on the “one blow, one kill” concept and hence power generation, and the use of impact equipment, should be central to what we do. It would be fair to say, however, that this is generally not the case. This podcast covers some of the reasons why much of modern karate has lost its way with regards to power and impact; as well as covering what we need to do to put things right.

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Kata-Based-Sparring Revisited: Structure

This month’s podcast sees us continue our discussion on kata-based-sparring (KBS). Last month we covered the broad principles of KBS and established how it relates to kata and fits into karate as a whole. This month’s podcast moves on and covers the structure of KBS and looks at some specific KBS drills. This podcast is divided into two sections. The first part covers the key ideas that you need to be aware of when structuring your own KBS drills. These ideas will help ensure that your drills are related to kata and will develop true self-protection skills. The second part of the podcast gives examples of specific KBS drills that I make use of in my own teaching and grading syllabus. It is obviously not possible to cover every single drill, but it is hoped that the combination of the discussion on structure and the examples given will give you the broad picture and enable you to develop your own KBS drills.

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Kata-Based-Sparring Revisited: Principles

In this month’s podcast I wish to return to the very important, and frequently misunderstood, subject of kata-based-sparring. As many of you will know, kata-based-sparring (KBS for short) is a term that I use for live training drills that are based on the techniques and concepts recorded within the traditional kata. I feel it should be obvious to all – but often is not – that if we wish to be able to apply the methodology of kata in live situations, then we need to practise that methodology in a live environment. It is my view that solo kata, bunkai study and compliant drills are nothing without live practise. This live practise should not be confused with common dojo sparring; which often has no connection to kata and is almost always based on the rules of modern competition. Kata was created to record the civilian self-protection system that was the original karate.

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Canadian Radio Interview

Kata in front of Decew Falls, Canada.As many of you will know, I recently taught a series of seminars in various parts of Canada. Without exception all the seminars were great fun and I’m very grateful to all who attended for their warmth, their enthusiasm and their ability to digest the information we covered. I had a blast! Whist I was in Canada, James Freeman (organiser of the events) and I were interviewed on a morning radio sports show. This month’s podcast includes that interview in full!

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