Summary: An Exceptional Martial Arts Text
Comment: I am a police officer and have a Shodan in Shotokan. I have studied Goju Ryu for several years as well. Since becoming a police officer I have been skeptical about the efficacy of karate in real life encounters.
Burgar's book explains how to make karate work in real life. I was not expecting the book to be nearly as comprehensive and well written as it was. Burgar's book brings the best of karate together with cutting edge research about use of force encounters.
He includes research by Col. Dave Grossman, Loren Christensen, and Bruce Siddle- well known names in law enforcement circles. He ties that to accounts of the way karate was done "in the old days" by Funakoshi and Patrick McCarthy to show that they were probably doing it right back then.
Burgar details the types of attacks that are used most frequently in assaults. He discusses how violence unfolds, physiological and psychological responses that are likely to occur, and how to train to overcome theses obstacles.
His dicussion of Gojushiho is a good example of how to interpret a kata to make it a personalized style of self defense.
There is no fluff in the book. If you want to know how to make your karate work for real, get the book. It won't disappoint.
Summary: Five Years, One Kata
Comment: This book was all I expected based on the various reviews. It contains very favourable reviews from Patrick McCarthy and Vince Morris, both of whom I have trained under, and greatly respect.
There are really two parts to the book. The first half focuses on philosophy of kata in general, while the second half is all about bunkai for Gojushiho as seen by the author. It clearly demonstrates that it takes years of dedicated study to fully appreciate the benefits of just one kata. Do as I did - read both parts together.
Comment: This is an outstanding tome which provides important insight for any karateka, not just Shotokan practitioners. Since each kata contains a fully developed, practical self-defense system, the ancient karate masters did not generally learn the plethora of forms we attempt to master today. Instead, they focused on one or two core forms such as naihanchi or sanchin kata, then went on to devote 5 or 10 years to deeply understand every nuance of one single additional form. Over time they internalized the strategy, principles, and tactics of that kata, mastering every detail. Once they fully understood all aspects of that kata, they might then pick-up another new form to study.
Over the last century, the practice of mastering a single kata has disappeared from our curricula. The deep understanding of a few kata has been replaced by the superficial practice of many. This book follows the author's five year experiment as he focused all his training on a single kata, Gojushiho. You will not only find unique insight into the Burger's experiment, but also develop improved understanding of your own forms and what you can learn from them. This is a great book, a worthy addition to your martial library.
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, The Way of Kata, and Martial Arts Instruction
Summary: Getting back to the source
Comment: I took a chance on buying this book without waiting for more reviews to come out on it. My interest was peeked by the study of one kata for five years. Why? Because this sounds like the original way in which Okinawans studied their kata. So I bought it and was not disappointed at all.
I would like to start buy saying that I believe Mr. Burgar did an excellent job in his overall presentation of his material in this book. It is easy to follow and is laid out in a logical sequencial manner. By stating that one Kaishugata is in itself a fighting system takes a bold step in this modern day world of "sport and game" karate. Finally a Shotokan stylist is getting back to the roots!
Those of us who have studied Okinawan Karate while always respecting Funakoshi, have needed an explanation as to why he changed so much of the kata when he introduced them to Japan. Here Mr. Burgar gives us the answer with Funakoshi's own words "that karate has changed so much from the way I learned it as a youth on Okinawa". Mr. Burgar then explains that karate was intended as a civilian self defense system.
On studying one kata the reader comes to realize that the techniques (bunkai) within the kata were designed to handle various habitual acts of violence that a person will run into in the everyday life. By careful analysis one can study this way given the careful criteria that is easily followed by this experienced karate-ka.
I applaud Mr. Burgar for writing for an advanced audience of practitioners. It is indeed refreshing to read something that may not be new to me but helps me to expound further into my own studies. I should mention that one can and should learn from any good book on karate. There can always be something taken away that is useful as well as learning what to leave behind.
Self defense is a very personal thing. That's why it has to work for the practitioner first and then be researched again by the people that they teach it to. It must become your own. Yes you must own it. Mr. Burgar sheds light to the karate world in general and this reader believes to the Shotokan stylist imparticular, why students of the early karate known as "te" or "tote" learned only one or two kata from their teachers. The Okinawan expression "Three Year Sanchin" does mean something after all.
I think a little more time could have been spent on speaking about the stances of karate and why they are practiced at all. Shedding light on that area would be helpful to students on different positioning of the body's center for balance purposes. After all, stances are what the karate-ka uses to learn balance while moving even if they may not be used in actual fighting. This was the only oversight that I could see.
Over all I give this book 5 stars simply because it is that good and unique. It's nice to see a new author shine in the karate world with something good and of substance. I will use some of the material in your book for myself and for my students. I believe that that is the highest praise I can give you besides writing this review and reading this book.
To the reader of this reveiw, buy it. I look for more from Mr. Burgar in the future. I only hope that the message in my traditional karate book "Nahashu Ryu Karate-Do" will impact one person as much as Mr. Burgar's book impacted me.
Summary: Best book I've ever read
Comment: There are a lot of books in my bookshelf and I read all of them. Some are good, some are bad. The "Burgar-Book" is an outstanding work because the author isn't a practitioner of a style. So, what's this book all about? This book is about an idea to train alone self defence through Kata, your own Kata. He points out how to make your own kata, how to use it. He gives you background information to history, self defence, pressure points and more. This book is worth every cent!!! Buy and enjoy!!!