Summary: A good book
Comment: To tell the true, I expected a little more...every serious Karate black belt who works bunkai, should know the content of that book. And if has also another background (Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Ryu Kyu Kempo, etc.) maybe he doesn't find anything really new ...
It could be more detailed, covering more Kata situations. I think this is just a beginner book, but is a good one!
Anyway is a good book and I enjoyed it.
Summary: A real approach to Kata
Comment: The author has written an exellent book about the Bunkai of Karate Kata. In my opinion it is one of the best books concerning to this theme. He gives a lot of insights into the understanding of the real application of the old Karate katas. He goes back to the main ideas of Okinawan Karate masters who developed and saved Karate Katas. He also explains the difference between real application and sports Karate. I think every Karate student, who is interested in a deep understanding of Okinawan Martial art must analyse Ian Abernethy`s work to find his own way in Karate study and practice.
Helmut Kogel M.D., Professor of Surgery
5th Dan Karate, Kobudo Renshi, 2nd Dan Nihon Jujutsu, 1st Antas Combat Arnis, Reg.Director IMAF Kokusai Budoin
Summary: A light goes on
Comment: This is one book about karate that every karateka in the world should own and read repeatedly.
Over the years of training I'd been becoming increasingly frustrated at the ineffectiveness of such things as "blocks", they are completely unnatural and take twice as long to execute as the punches and other attacks they are supposed to defend against. Well... Guess what. They aren't "blocks", they are "uke" which means "receiver". Ian's book is enlightening, an uke isn't just a block, it's a way of turning a natural human reaction when attacked to our advantage and are best used almost the reverse of the way traditionally taught.
And kata, those bizarre and useless dances we do every week? Um no... the kata really are the core of fighting, they really do teach some brutal and effective fighting techniques, but only if you understand how to read them. This is the real beauty of the book, it gives you a key to unlock the kata, a set of simple common sense rules which turn the kata into a reference library to be studied rather than a dance to be performed.
Finally, the book exhorts us to train all of the techniques encoded in the kata, that includes punches, kicks, locks, throws because it's only when we actually practice them that we are practicing karate. Until we do, we're perfoming kickboxing and techniques which are of dubious use in a real situation.
If you practice karate, of any "style" buy this book and read it.
Summary: Excellent book on kata interpretation
Comment: In this book, Iain Abernathy has tried to present karate practitioners with a Shotokan lineage with a "decoder ring" of sorts for their various kata. The result is a fascinating read to say the least. He begins with a basic history of the kata, explaining why they look the way they do now. Then he moves on to discuss the performance of the kata, from the beginning learning process to the various mental aspects. This section alone is eye-opening. The chapter on the rules of bunkai is one that all practitioners of karate should read. With rules such as "Every Kata Move Is Designed For Use In Combat", Abernathy comes across as a traditionalist; rules such as "Real Fights Are Sloppy Affairs" make him seem like a realist; and with rules like "There Is A Need For Skills At Every Range", he seems quite progressive. These various, complementary aspects give credence to the author's point of view by appealing to nearly everyone. Gradually, through these chapters, the reader can begin to see the pieces of the bunkai puzzle start to fall into place.
Next, we take a sort of side-journey to examine the basics of how real fights occur. This is necessary to understand the environment in which karateka will apply the bunkai. He then inserts a chapter on the "Magnitude of Kata", and we begin to see his interpretations of classical karate kata as he describes how the principles of kata come alive in real situations.
Next, we move on to the actual, technical aspects of fighting contained within the kata. Atemi (striking) is first, with Abernathy describing the attributes necessary for effective striking, how they apply to kata, and some basic training tools. Then, since we've already been exposed to the basic striking tools, he gives us a list of anatomical weak points of which to strike. If I may be critical here, while I can't dispute that the points he describes are vulnerable to attack, he seems to imply that striking some of these points will lead to certain death. Like most traditional karateka, he seems to assume maximum possible, versus realistic, damage. The next chapter is on pre-emptive striking, in which he explains that the famous quote "There is no first strike in karate" doesn't necessarily exclude pre-emptive striking. He makes a pretty convincing argument, even using further quotes from Funakoshi to back up his claims. A rare chapter on entering and exiting techniques follows, which also covers attacking the eyes, throat, and groin. Following that is a chapter on throws and takedowns (including, yes, those found in kata), and then a chapter on the joint-locks of kata. I particularly enjoyed this section, as the opening of Pinan Yondan has been driving me nuts for years. Also in that chapter, he addresses distractions to set up joint-locks, and some "sticking-hands" type movement found in the katas. Next is "Karate on the Ground", which includes both striking and grappling. The "true" applications of blocks follows, much to my appreciation. Apparently, the term "uke" doesn't necessarily mean to block, but also to counter, to receive, or to respond. With this definition, many so-called blocks now make more sense, as demonstrated in this book. After that is a chapter on stances, including their use as obstacles to the attacker. The book finishes up with a chapter on kata-based sparring. The variety of sparring should give instructors limitless ideas for adding variety and valuable lessons to their karate classes.
Overall, a very good book. I wish I'd had access to it when I was a blue belt. The book is easy to follow, well-written, and really succeeded in piquing my curiosity about bunkai. There were classic quotes from the old karate masters throughout the book, adding some authenticity to the context. This is a book I'd highly recommend to any karate practitioner who feels unsatisfied with the explainations they've been given for their kata.
Summary: Excellent - hard to find but very well worth it!
Comment: Bunkai Jutsu is extremely well done. Iain Abernethy is one of the few authors who truly understands and is able to communicate that martial arts are at their core about combat. Kata is not dance practice nor is it aerobic training (though that may be a legitimate side benefit of performing it). It is the fundamental basis of a fighting art. Bunkai are the kata applications practitioners can use for real-life self-defense. Abernethy provides an easy to read approach to understanding and utilizing these applications.
If you know how to decipher them, all aspects of fighting can be found in kata, including kicking, striking, grappling, strangling, pressure point techniques, and throwing applications. The contents of this impressive tome include a brief history of kata, a treatise on the nature of real fighting, Iain's rules of bunkai (how to figure out what the kata is telling you), pre-emptive striking, entrance and exit techniques, ground fighting, the "true" use of blocks, the purpose of stances, kata-based sparring, and much more. This is all stuff you can use in real life combat. The section on vital points is illuminating.
This book is well worth the money even though it's a little hard to find and may take awhile to get (almost 4 weeks when I ordered it on Amazon). It is one of the very few books I categorically believe that every martial artist should own. I heartily recommend it!
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