Top positive review
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A highly pragmatic and unique look at Karate
on 12 January 2002
My wife bought me this book for Christmas after I said that I enjoyed the author's magazine articles (subtle hint or what!).
I found the book to be a very interesting look at a largely ignored aspect of karate. The book is fairly easy to follow and includes many photographs per technique. Each chapter begins by showing examples of each grappling method (e.g. throws) before giving a more detailed explanation of the kata's techniques and their variations. The book has a number of interesting propositions that I haven't seen explored in other books. The book not only shows the grappling techniques that are recorded in the kata, but also variations based upon the same principles. This leads to number of ground fighting kata adaptations, which I found to be a unique and very interesting idea.
The book also revolves around the application of the kata's methods in a self-defence situation. There are instructions on the dangers and strengths associated with each method and there is an entire chapter that advises on the use of grappling techniques in the real world (Geoff Thompson's foreword is very complimentary in this regard). Most interesting for me was the guidance on how the kata's techniques can be included in sparring. Again, I thought this part of the book was fairly unique, as I have never seen suggested elsewhere that kata techniques must be practised live if we are going to be able to use them in a real fight. The book also suggests a number of progressive sparring drills... However, you can't help but suspect that many "traditionalists" won't care for some of the positions taken! (Some of the people at my club said that they felt grappling etc. had nothing to do with karate!) This is a great shame as the essential message of the book is that Karate is a good and highly potent system of fighting that covers all ranges (a real rarity nowadays). The author also uses quotations for the works of Funakoshi, Otsuka, Itsou, Miyagi etc. to justify the positions taken by the book. But I still suspect that the book's contents will make many a close minded karateka "uncomfortable"
My only disappointment with the book was that it doesn't go into as much historical and conceptual detail as his articles in Combat magazine and on the guest writers' section of Geoff Thompson's web site. But the book does contain a lot of information, and I suppose there is only so much room.
Overall, I was very impressed by this unique book and it certainly helped me to re-evaluate my view on kata and my approach to training. This book really is a must have for all those who feel that there karate is missing "something" when it comes to its real world application.