Summary: Yes, buy it; you can't live without it
Comment: Iain Abernethy is the real deal. And I continue to wonder where and how he got so smart. And I'm not talking about all his credentials, including an advanced black belt and so on. Those are surprisingly common these days. But Iain brings rare insight to his study of karate.
A lot of folks have studied karate for a long time, and gotten very good indeed in the kickee-punchee aspect of the discipline.
But most dojos have taught the kata, discussed a few improbable applications, prepared the student to dance through the kata for an examination, and failed utterly to explore the actual use of the kata in self defense.
And that's the case even though Gichen Funakoshi taught that kata was the core of karate training, and Choki Motobu pointed out that all you needed to know about fighting was contained in Tekki Shodan kata.
Then along comes Iain Abernethy and discusses exactly what those wierd movements in the kata are used for in the world of no-kidding fighting. And he is generous in the extreme. Many writers who know something in this area pace themselves. Iain shovels information-no teaspoon for him!
While all of his books and dvds are remarkably useful, this one is particularly well suited to a karate student who has gotten through his first bundle of kata and who has started to wonder why he's wasting time with kata instead of spending more time on the makiwara.
This isn't a deep exam of one kata and it's applications. It examines multiple kata and provides a many different examples of ways to apply the unusual movements that karate students get to practice again and again.
By the way, when you see real and effective applications of kata movements, your first response is likely to be "Eureka!! I knew there was a pony in this pile somewhere!"
As an overview, this book discusses the history of kata in karate, basic techniques drawn from kata, and the sorts of criteria you should consider when evaluating a possible kata application.
This book emphasizes the grappling techniques embedded in kata, because those are the techniques most likely be slighted in most dojos (that's not evil, just factual). And discovering joint locks, chokes and throws that are hiding in plain sight inside karate kata.
But buy the book, and you'll be hooked, and you'll run out and buy everything Iain has written and committed to dvds (you'll need to check out Amazon.co.uk to find his dvds. I don't know why they aren't available on Amazon here in the U.S., but any amount of inconvenience to get your hands on them is well spent).
Summary: Worthwhile and informative
Comment: Few people understand the hidden aspect of kata. This book presents them in an understandable format.
Summary: A real karate student
Comment: I am currently studying for my black belt in shotokan. As someone who has been in and out of karate for the last 15 years, I have always known I am a good puncher and a good kicker, but I have always felt I was unprepared by karate as it is currently taught, to go to the ground. I personally was a wrestler so I have some firsthand experience but many of my peers have had no real ground or grappling training whatsoever. This book has helped to answer the persistant question I have asked myself for years "Why is there no grappling in Karate?" The answer is that it is here and it always has been here. This book (and others) are helping to open my awareness to a new understanding of karate. This is not the karate that has been taught in America the last 5 decades, it is the karate of a person who literally may have to call upon it to defend their own life. I am looking at all of my kata with a new spirit of discovery, looking for secrets that have been hidden in plain sight for years. I also very highly recommend Shotokans Secret by Bruce Clayton. These two books have helped to start me on a path to discover and determine what I believe karate should be. It is not the point-sparring sport that is popular in America. It is a serious, spiritual and potentially deadly state of being that one hopes they never have need to call upon. Myself, my fellow students, and even my sensai, are opening ourselves up to this realisation and our club is beginning to evolve. Oddly, we are moving ahead by reaching backwards and this book is a good place to start.
Summary: An insightful look at karate's forgotten aspect
Comment: This is an outstanding tome which illuminates grappling, an all too often forgotten aspect of karate. These methods are frequently not practiced in many dojos simply because practitioners do not realize that they even exist within their system. On the street, however, karateka may face grapplers, boxers, and practitioners of a whole plethora of styles. The good news is that we have all the tools necessary to survive or triumph in any violent encounter, be it standing up or on the ground.
In an art which has become overly focused on striking and kicking by many practitioners, this outstanding text will help you to practice the way it was meant to be--as an effective, holistic, and complete fighting system. It is well illustrated, easy to understand, practical, and very insightful. The author not only describes how grappling methods were recorded in karate kata and demonstrates a wide assortment of techniques, but he also describes the principles that make them effective in real-life fighting situations.
Subjects covered include understanding the role of grappling in self-defense, kata and bunkai (applications), close range strikes, throws and takedowns, ground fighting, chokes and strangles, arm bars, leg and ankle locks, neck twists, finger locks, wrist locks, and combinations. Dirty fighting and grappling drills are also covered. As you can see this is an outstanding and holistic treatise on the subject.
Iain Abernethy really knows his stuff. He holds a godan (5th degree black belt) in applied karate from the British Combat Association, one of the world's leading groups for close-quarter combat and practical martial arts. He is also a yodan (4th degree black belt) in Wado-Ryu karate (English Karate Governing Body), a member of the Combat Hall of Fame, and a former national level kata judge in the UK. He is the author of four books on applied karate: Bunkai-Jutsu: The Practical Application of Karate Kata, Throws for Strikers: The Forgotten Throws of Karate, Boxing, and Taekwondo, Karate's Grappling Methods, and Arm-Locks for All Styles. Sensei Abernethy has produced numerous DVD's and videos on applied karate and kata bunkai and is a regular contributor to all of UK's leading martial arts magazines.
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, The Way of Kata, and Martial Arts Instruction