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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. Our karate sparring will therefore have genuine relevance to real situations if it is based on the kata and the original methods of the system.

In this podcast we will be covering the principles of KBS and next month we will be discussing specific KBS drills. This podcast begins by exploring the nature of kata and the various stages of it’s study and practise. It is vitally important that people do not confuse the manner in which information is preserved and presented by kata with the manner in which that information should be trained. This podcast discusses solo-kata, bunkai (application), variations, and live practise; and also how those elements should link together to form a coherent whole.

The information covered this month will explain what KBS is, how KBS is different from common “karate sparring”, how KBS relates to kata, and how it sits in the greater scheme of things within karate. If listeners ensure they are familiar with the information in this podcast they will be well placed to make use of the specific KBS drills we’ll be covering next month. I hope you enjoy the podcast!

All the best,


KBS Principles
Iain Abernethy