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Four Shades of Black: The Traditional Path to Building The Complete Fighter

Four Shades of Black: The Traditional Path to Building The Complete Fighter [Kindle Edition]

Gavin Mulholland
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Gavin Mulholland is one of those rare karate instructors who actually impresses me. It's common knowledge that the bulk of "traditional" martial artists can't make their stuff work in the real world due to the emphasis placed on sporting applications over the last thirty years. Luckily, there are people like Gavin still out there proving that Traditional Martial Arts do indeed work -- Nick Hughes, Chief Instructor of Fight Survival and Combat Karate

I can't tell you how exciting it is for me to find such a like soul, someone else that is speaking the same language. I highly recommend this authentic book, its contents and its author and I implore everyone who is `searching' to read this book - it is both valuable and long overdue. -- Geoff Thompson, sixth-degree black belt, writer, teacher, martial artist

I find Gavin a truly inspirational martial artist. He embodies all that I think is good and worthwhile in the arts and it is always a pleasure to be in the dojo with him. I cannot recommend his teaching highly enough
-- David Rubens, 5th Dan Yoshinkan Aikido

Regardless of style, all karateka should read and digest the information contained within this excellent book. Gavin Mulholland is someone who fully understands the realities of combat and kata and if you wish to practise karate as the pragmatic fighting system it was intended to be, you should familiarise yourself with Gavin's work. This is a thorough and accessible explanation of everything you need to know to make sense of kata and become a complete fighter. Four Shades of Black is a must-read book that is certain to become a modern classic. Enjoy! -- Iain Abernethy, fifth-degree black belt Author of Bunkai-Jutsu: The Practical Application of Karate Kata

Product Description

‘The secrets of karate are contained in the kata,’ said the masters of old. What did they mean? For many years, people have struggled to understand where padwork, grappling, ground-fighting and even high kicks fit into traditional karate.

While many people understand the purpose of individual kata, this book demonstrates how the various kata work together to create a logical fight progression from stand-up striking to close-quarter grappling and groundfighting. Four Shades of Black decodes the kata in a radically different way, revealing how the traditional arts set out to develop a complete and rounded fighter. If you think you know karate, think again.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9026 KB
  • Print Length: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd (14 Oct 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072MQ418
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #204,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Training with purpose 13 April 2008
I really enjoyed this book. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it is a pleasure to read. Clear, concise, eloquent sentence structure and very accessible. So valuable for the kyu grade in that it explains what you should be trying to achieve with your training at each level, but also for the dan grade to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.

It's not a 'how to' book at all really, more something to make you think about what you are doing and why. Its premise is to give you the underlying principles behind the training for each kata. Suggestions for the padwork, partnerwork and conditioning drills required to work on the necessary mindset. And as you progress through each kata, those skills are reinforced and built upon so that, by the time you get to black belt, you have accumulated an instinctive set of reactions to varying situations that will come to the fore when under pressure.

I loved the little snapshots of violence that introduced each kata and, by the end of the book, I wanted to be that student taking his first steps in the dojo.

I shall certainly be approaching my future training with a very different way of thinking.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost dances 7 April 2008
The first thing that strikes you with this book, is that it is not like any other "wot kata's about" books. The photographic imagery fills you with subliminally reinforced messages of the secrets of kata to which the text alludes. Taking you from the first day, and the first test - walking into a strange dojo filled with trepidation, up to becoming an accomplished fighter, fit and ready at shodan to begin towards the next step of "Waking Dragons" in your 30 man kumite.
A smooth transition from shade to shade, and kata to kata, showing the meaning of each kata and why it is has that place in the order. Showing the kihon and training drills that are the basics for that stage of progression, and the sequences with the reasons for order of moves, yet each with the menace of the fighters always in the shadow, never in full view. Mind games, because the mind is where fights are won and lost, before a blow is landed. But look closer at the stunning photography, they haven't even bothered to get the creases out of the gis. Look closer still, they are frayed and repaired. Work clothes. These are without a doubt clothes worn to 'go to work', not your standard costume in which to pose.
There is nothing lightweight about this book. It shows that the 30 man kumite Goran Powell writes so vividly about isn't about a six month training regime. It's about taking on a five year or so apprenticeship, where the tools and skills are ingrained into you, making shodan a natural - though not foregone - conclusion, so that the 30 man test is just the next step. Terrifying, like that first step into the dojo, or seeing that violence on the bus.... no more no less, because the level of fear never changes, only the level of the challenge.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully violent 7 April 2008
Four Shades of Black looks like a sumptuous coffee-table book, but the writing packs a real punch and delivers arguments that no traditional martial artist can ignore. The author is certainly well placed to make these arguments - as well as being Chief Instructor of one of the UK's strongest karate clubs, he's an experienced doormen and his students have competed successful in the Octagon (Cage Rage).

Gavin Mulholland certainly knows how to make karate work. What he's done brilliantly in this book is show how and why. Four Shades of Black is engaging, reading like a novel in parts, an instructional book in others, it's amusing, unpretentious and profound. Gavin is honest about where karate may have gone wrong in the past, but ultimately, extremely positive. The book shows clearly how to bring traditional methods to life with realistic training that's still based on the principles and spirit of the kata.

At this point I must admit my bias - Gavin Mulholland is my instructor and I even feature in the book. All I can say is: don't take my word for it, get a copy and decide for yourself. If you're a traditional martial artist, it will be a wonderful addition to your library. The beauty and violence of the martial arts is captured perfectly in the writing, design and photography of Four Shades of Black.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" book 3 May 2008
By Doug
Whether you train in Goju or any other Martial Art , this book underlines the principles and mind set for a student as they progress through their training.
It's layout and classy use of black and white photos enhances the high standard of the information contained in this book.
Although not a "step by step" text book , as many books on Karate are , it gives many insights and ideas for training using bunkai , partner drills and padwork.Which all help to raise the skills of the students as they study the Kata.
I think this book is the best book on the first four Kata contained in the Goju Ryu system.
Here's hoping for another on the rest of the Goju Kata.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant! 15 April 2008
I have to say that has to be one of the best books on bunkai out there! Not only is the information superb, it's also the way the book is laid out that is so impressive (think "coffee table" quality).

I was privileged to be able to make a small contribution to the book by way of the foreword (Geoff Thompson wrote the preface) and hence I got to see the draft a few months ago. Brilliant information! The final book truly is something to behold and I can honestly say I don't think I've seen as stylish a martial arts book.

Can't recommend this one highly enough.

Iain Abernethy
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Makes good reading and is informative
Published 2 months ago by jutsu 123
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This is a great book and really puts training into perspective. Having just restarted training after a long break I think this will be invaluable for me.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking read.
I loved this book. Not only was it beautiful to look at, it was a different way for me to study the Kata within my style. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Julie Tynan
4.0 out of 5 stars quite ok
i'm goju-ryu newcomer with judo experience before. The book is written in an excellent way but pictures are too "artistic". Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by mwol
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book for every martial artist
This book is essential reading for any serious karateka, and indeed any martial artist interested in maximising the potential of whatever system they practice. Read more
Published on 13 Dec 2010 by Mr. S. Clinch
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
I remember when I first started training in karate, I went into various bookshops to try and find a good book on Goju Ryu and Okinawan martial arts and apart from The History of... Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2010 by Daniel Bard
4.0 out of 5 stars It's All There In Black & White
The slow resurgence of Karate as a complete fighting system has taken a momentous leap forward with Gavin Mulholland's superlative work of art, Four Shades of Black. Read more
Published on 13 May 2010 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Four shades of black
Thought provoking book for karate practitioners with a focus on Goju Ryu. Waiting for the next book from Gavin.
Published on 12 Oct 2009 by Mr. David C. Abrehart
4.0 out of 5 stars A Manual For A Fighting Mindset
This is not a martial arts instruction manual showing you a list of techniques move by move and frame by frame. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2009 by S. Fagence
5.0 out of 5 stars a simply brilliant book
Four Shades of Black: The Traditional Path to Building the Complete Fighter

I brought this book for my husband, he teaches goju karate and is a 4th dan black belt. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2009 by T. Langworthy
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