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Why Doesn’t Kata Look Like Fighting?

This question comes up, often, with new karateka, disillusioned karateka, and people who practice (or at least closely follow) combat sports, and they have a fair point–kata does not look much like what most people consider “fighting.” Really, it doesn’t even look like what most karateka consider fighting, which is competition-style kumite (sparring). Kata teach you to use strong, rooted […]

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Terminology Confusion

Martial arts have a great deal of terminology describing their techniques, methods, and concepts. Typically, this terminology is in the language native to the region the art came from. Karate, although Okinawan in origin, has adopted the Japanese language as Uchinaguchi (the language of Okinawa) was phased out of regular use in the Ryukyu Islands. This means that karateka all […]


Seiyunchin Bunkai Seminar

Over the weekend, I attended a Seiyunchin bunkai seminar via Skype with one of Taira Masaji Sensei’s senior students, Paul Enfield. Although I am a Shorin-Ryu practitioner, I have picked up some other kata throughout my karate journey, and Seiyunchin is one of them. The version I learned was a bit different, though, and I have been working on making […]

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The Magic of Hikite 4

A “traditional karate” example of hikite (pulling hand) while punching Sometimes, I forget that the wider karate world hasn’t moved on from formalized, impractical, block-punch-kick kata applications. I was reminded when, just a month or two ago, a relatively new karateka posted on a martial arts forum that I moderate, asking about hikite (pulling hand). He commented that it didn’t […]


Naihanchi Kata Footwork Training Exercises

An enbusen (performance line) diagram for Isshin-Ryu Naihanchi footwork variations When doing kata training, it is not generally accepted to modify any part of the kata, including the footwork. That said, it is not completely unheard of. Oyata Sensei of RyuTe was known to change the footwork of his kata from time to time, to better illustrate the applications. More […]

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Passai and Kusanku Oyo Bunkai – Sukui-Uke

Recently, an online friend of mine, who studies and teaches the Shinjinbukan system, has been posting video clips from Onaga Yoshimitsu Sensei’s trip through Europe. The most recent video (at the time of writing this post) is the one, above. At about 1:14, you can see Onaga Sensei demonstrate an application for a movement in Passai. We actually teach the […]


Kusanku Dai Oyo Bunkai – Kuchiki-Taoshi

Most Suidi/Shuri-Te lineage karate contains at least one version of the kata, Kusanku. This kata was, supposedly, developed to record the techniques brought to Okinawa by a Chinese envoy of the same name, as described in the Oshima Hikki. Patrick McCarthy has written about this in several books, and Jesse Enkamp posted this article about it, a while back. Itosu […]

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Naihanchi Shodan Oyo Bunkai – Haishu-Uchi

Motobu Choki (right) teaching women’s self defense I recently wrote about the importance (or lack thereof) of hand formations in kata and, in that article, I specifically mentioned the use of haishu (backhand) versus haito (ridgehand) in Naihanchi Shodan. Now, for the sake of clarity, I wanted to illustrate the points I made in that article a little bit more […]