4 posts / 0 new
Last post
chrishanson68's picture
My Debut Podcast Response to Iain's 2009 "Karate's 3 Biggest Mistakes"

Hello, if you're an avid fan of this site, then you would have viewed Iain's 2009 Podcast on Karate's 3 Biggest Mistakes and have read the article.  I have posted below my debut podcast response to this issue.  Being a Karate-ka myself for well over 12 years, I have a full understanding of these fallacies.  In this podcast series, I have first introduced who I am as a martial artist.  I believe this introduction will set some context into my claims.  Secondly, I have summarized and added on some insights to Iain's 3 mistakes of Karate.  Finally, I added a podcast that elucidates my 4 step algorithm that I formulated for extracting realism in your traditional training.  I referenced Matt Thornton's work on Aliveness Theory, and the I-Method by reflecting on how these tenants are utilized in my training with respect to realism.

Please enjoy, and I'd i'd love to hear from you here and on Youtube.



Part I - Introduction to me.

Part II - Iain's Abernethy's 3 Mistakes of Karate- a review and reflection

Part III - My 4 Step Algorithm for extracting realism from traditionalism

Part 4 - 4 Step Algorithm continued and Matt Thornton's Aliveness and the I-Method

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Nice stuff and thanks for sharing here! They are well put together and communicate your views in an articulate and structured way. This sharing of information is really what I want the site to be about. Brilliant!

For those who have not listened to my “Karate’s Three biggest Mistakes” podcast or article that Chris refers to, you can find them here:

Podcast: http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/karates-three-biggest-mistakes

Article: http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/article/karates-three-bigest-mistakes

The three mistakes as I expressed them were:

1 – Failing to differentiate between environments / contexts

2 - The introduction of artificial success criteria (Failing to measure by effect)

3 - Failing to judge personal training by personal results

In his video-cast, Chris paraphrases these mistakes and gives his own take on them. If you want to add my take on these mistakes to the mix, please checkout the podcast and article.

I really enjoyed the videos and agreed very much with what was said.

One minor point I would make with regards to the forth clip is that I feel kata is only inefficient if the “application” of the kata is different to the kata. And if that is the case I would say that it is not a valid application.

To use the example of inefficiency given; a Jab is not a lunge punch, so someone teaching a lunch punch in the kata as a means to learn the jab is entirely pointless so I would totally agree with the example presented.

However, if you were teaching someone to strip a flinch, open up the target, and then throw everything they have into a finishing punch, then the hand going to the hip (i.e. the one that has hold of the enemy’s arm and is clearing a path the target) and the massive drive forward and though the target (i.e. the assuming of the stance) are the same as the kata.

Therefore there can be much value in isolating the mechanics solo (kata) before doing the same motion with a partner / opponent (bunkai). There is no inefficiency there.

I have been taught solo drills by both boxing coaches and judo coaches in order to ensure understanding of a skill and to give a means of supplementary solo practise. These solo drills reflected what would be done in partner work and sparring. It should be the exact same for karateka with regard to kata.

If the solo drill, the partner drill and method of application are all different and unrelated (as is often the case in some quarters of karate) then we have massive inefficacies there. However, their inefficacies are indicative of their training only and not the totality of karate or kata.

Kata can be an entirely pointless way of training if it has no link, or a very stretched link, to application. In that instance kata is being used inefficiently, but that’s not the same as saying kata is inefficient.

If the links between solo-form, partner work and live training are direct and solidly integrated, then I would say that kata is a valuable part of the process.

We need a process to be at work that is holistic and progresses logically. To me solo form, bunkai, and live practise should all be linked together. If they are not, then that is a fault in their training approach; not of the kata inherently.

A person punching ineffectively does not mean punches are ineffective. It’s exactly the same with kata. Using kata inefficiently, by attributing tenuous “applications” such as lunch punch = boxer’s jab, is a bad use of kata.

As I say, I totally agree with the example given and we do see that a lot. I just wanted to share some thoughts on why we see that and how that fault should not be there.

Fantastic stuff Chris and very well put together. I enjoyed listening to them and I’m sure many here will too!

All the best,


chrishanson68's picture

Thanks Iain for the kind words and constructive thoughts.  It definitely is flattering when I know that serious technical exponents such as your self think that I'm on the money with my ideologies....thanks again...it gives me more motivation to continue, train, and elucidate my works!

 I'd like to start by saying I agree with your point about solo-kata, bunkai, and partner work.

 For sure, there has to be an "objective cohesion" so to speak between solo-kata (solo practice), bunkai, and partner work.  It would be senseless to do those 3 activities (ie. solo kata, bunkai and partner work) without a common objective...point taken clearly and a smile is on my face smiley(and the one here...lol). 

Clip 4, the example of the lunge punch, was somthing that I remembered being taught...the lunch movement is similar to a boxer jab...but it is only similar in forward movement and that's about it....apart from that, the jab and lunge imply TOTALLY different body mechanics that in turn poses totally different teaching points....so logically, they are contradictory to each other!  It was an example that I wanted to point out to show the craziness sometimes in inconsistant applications.

Secondly, to add on to your point about having solo-kata, bunkai, and partner work to share a common application is key; along with the progression that needs to be made among the 3....that is...solo-kata...then bunkai, then partner work......If you re-examine the "I-Method"...Matt Thornton's algortithm for teaching aliveness and general technique delivery, his ideas co-incide with yours...that is.....Introduce->Isolate->Integrate......so if you see....the Introduce step, would be synonomous to your solo-kata.....you learn the technique in isolation....just the body mechanics...you do it solo, so it's like shadow boxing....and all while you're doing this you're keeping in mind the successful application...this is key....the successful application...and this successful application is carried forward in bunkai and partner work.  I think we've reached a touch down here!!

Much Peace to you!


JWT's picture

Thanks for sharing Chris.  A good series of videos and I appreciate you giving up your time to air your views. :)

A few years back Iain and I had a discussion in the old forum where I think I raised the analogy of Karate Kata and swimming.  To an extent Kata is like training a swimmer on a board.  They have the space to move their arms and legs, and the coach can really examine their technique, but to develop properly they need to get in the water, beginning in the calm water of the pool, and later in the more unpredictable currents of rivers and the sea, using the pool and the board as refinement methods as appropriate.