Shotokan kata bunkai – AFTK Sydney Seminar

The Sydney Australian Federation of Traditional Karate seminar held in Lane Cove Bowling Club had a great turn out on a rare sunny March day. The seminar had attendees from Queensland from Bubishi Martial Arts, Chidokan and Chidokai representatives and Northern Lakes Martial Arts from the Central Coast. There were also some visitors from outside the AFTK. The theme for this year’s seminar was Shotokan kata bunkai. Shotokan is a well know style of karate, renowned for being hard and fast.

The first morning session was held by Soshi Ed Hudson from Chidokai. The session went through the bunkai for Tekki Nidan. Tekki, also known as Naihanchi, is an old kata and used to be the first kata that is taught to a student in Okinawa. The kata is done in kiba dachi or horse stance which has created numerous stories on why. A famous story is that the kata was used to fight on the terraces of rice paddies. During the session, Soshi Hudson talked about the history of the Tekki kata and the reasons why that it may be done in horse riding stance. It is a training kata to develop the legs as well as fighting principles.

Chidokai is a Shotokan based style which has introduced entry points into the katas. Numerous concepts were introduced to attendees at the seminar. One concept was the targeting of vital points to take advantage of the natural human reaction and to finish off an attack quickly. Another concept that the attendees practiced was to unbalance and move around the attacker.

The afternoon session was run by Sensei Jeff McCauley from Northern Lakes Martial Arts based on the Central Coast. The afternoon session also looked at the practical application of Shotokan katas and took samples out of the Heian katas. The Heian (also known as Pinan) katas was created by Anko Itosu. There are five Heian katas that are taught to the kyu grades in most karate styles.

Sensei McCauley opened the session with break falling exercises and a technique to recover if you have fallen over. Some of the concepts taught by Sensei McCauley included using the flinch response as a defence against an attack (opening move of Heian Nidan), using throws as a finishing move (final move of Heian Sandan) and locks to control an opponent (gedan berai). The attendees had a lot of fun throwing each other around and also manage to sneak in an armbar or two on their partners.

A trait of the bunkai demonstrated by Sensei McCauley and Soshi Hudson was the use of gripping techniques, sticky hands and throws as part of the application of the katas. This is a whole world away from the Shotokan bunkai that other Shotokan associations adhere to and what most people would see. They are not flashy moves. They are simple, brutal and effective. The purpose is not to wow the crowds but for protection as a last resort.

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