Disclaimer: the techniques shown in these videos should never be practiced without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
I'd like to invite you to read my blog post on step sparring. As a long time Shotokan practitioner, I have done it for years but I don't see a lot of value in it. In fact, I see it as flawed and outdated. For those interested in developing transferable skills for self defense it is actually counterproductive. Click on the link above to read my post. Maybe what I have to say will resonate with you. Maybe it will offend you. You decide.
This is a simple drill we recently used at the end of class. The striker throws a simple combination which is followed by brief calisthenics. This is followed by a barrage of haymakers the striker must shield themselves from. The drill resets as soon as the haymakers are finished. This is a nice drill for conditioning and 'spirit training'. The focus is on intensity!
The pad drill in this video helps train for changes in distance in a fighting context. It also teaches us to remain on the offensive even when backing up. The drill starts with a 'switch kick' roundhouse kick. As you step back with the kicking leg, the pad holder closes in. Use the rotation from the 'step back' to throw a lead-hand hook. Then, as the pad holder then retreats, close distance and throw a reverse punch and a front leg roundhouse kick. The pads we used in this drill are light so I had to go easy on the kicks. Thai pads would be better suited for this drill.
In this video, the opening movement of Enpi is used to catch a roundhouse kick and take the opponent to the ground. This application is more suited for fighting than for self defence.
Modern karate has lost much of the old school grappling techniques in favor of a sport-oriented focus. For karate practitioners interested in self-protection, a minimum ground-fighting skill set is essential. This very short flow drill loops indefinitely, allowing for lots of repetition with a compliant uke. It starts with a guard pass I learned at Iain Abernethy's May 2019 residential seminar. Following the guard pass are punches from mount. This should cause the uke to cover up allowing you to seize on arm and use an enpi application (Movement #1). Next is a basic arm bar. The uke uses a simple gyaku waza technique to escape and get into guard. From there the drill resets with positions reversed. In self defense, we must strive to stay on our feet in case a by-stander should choose to intervene. That said, I believe that all karate-ka should have a minimal level of proficiency in ground fighting (newaza). "In Karate-Do My Way of Life", Funakoshi wrote about ground fighting as a boy in Okinawa.
In this video, a basic striking combination is used followed by a takedown. Gyaku zuki (cross), mawashi zuki (hook) and another gyaku zuki is used prior to the takedown. There are a number of variations of this takedown, all of which involve a means to off-balance. The leading arm following the punch can be high across the neck or lower across the torso. In this variation, I am positioning my right arm deep and across the torso. My right foot steps deep past the uke's rear leg. Although not required, I use my left hand to stick the uke's left leg to my left leg. Although it may look like I am lifting the leg I am using minimal strength. You should have a feeling of stepping through the uke's stance. If this takedown feels "muscled" you're doing it wrong. It should feel effortless. Happy training!
Tekki is the Shotokan version of Naihanshi. The bones of the kata are essentially the same with a few subtle differences. The "high hands" position at the beginning of Naihanshi can be used as a clinch which was explored in detail at an Iain Abernethy seminar in Sept 2018. In this video, the opening movement of the kata is used against such an hold. The application makes use of the "husband & wife hands" principle as well as a pain withdraw reflex.
In this impromptu video, the opening movement of Heian Yondan can be used as a simultaneous block and strike. The juji uke ('X' block) is then used to secure a grip for a takedown and choke.
This is a fighting application and not suitable for self defense. Intentionally going to the ground in a self defense situation is never advisable.
This application is based on the work of Simon O'Brien
In this video, I explore the opening sequence of Nijushiho. I first use an entry I learned at a Randy King seminar which fits nicely for the 'pressing block'. Capitalizing on enemy's pain withdraw reflex, the pressing block is used again to pull the enemy off balance. Once the head is more accessible, the punch is used as a bicep bump as the left hand secures the head and serves as a means to index. From there, the left 'elbow strike' is used to pull a guillotine choke tight. **IMPORTANT** Striking the back of the head is extremely dangerous and may result in legal consequences even in situations of self defense. This video is merely an exploration of bunkai possibilities. Potentially fatal techniques such as these should be avoided. Please exercise caution when practicing this sequence and only do so in the presence of a qualified instructor.
I teamed up with Chris Hanson from Karate Unity for this video to look at practical applications of age uke (rising block). Chris has some great ideas to share here!
This is a simple but practical pad drill. Training in chaos, locating limbs and targets and responding to the enemy's actions while making proper use of hikite.
Karate today is plagued with many myths. One such myth is the purpose of Hikite. Despite popular opinion, the purpose of hikite, or 'pulling hand' is not to generate power. This simple experiment helps to disprove this myth.
This holistic pad drill incorporates striking both from a standing position and on the ground, one of Funakoshi's throws, (ude-wa) and kata applications on the ground from Enpi, Tekki and Heian Godan.
Most of the techniques demonstrated are more appropriate for fighting than self defense.
***Please note that this is not meant to be an instructional video on judo or jiu jutsu but rather an exploration of ground applications from kata.**
Some practical karate practitioners argue that kata was never meant to be applied on the ground. I am not arguing for or against but rather pursuing this for fun and education.
Acknowledgement: A short sequence of this drill was borrowed from Iain Abernethy. (Enpi application to guard). Thank you Yvan for being my uke.
The standard front choke is one of many HAPV (Habitual Acts of Physical Violence). Movements 9-11 from Heian Sandan can be used to defend against such an attack.
SHUTO UKE, often referred to as 'knife hand block' is a very versatile technique. In this video, a practical application from a clinch will be explored. The rear arm (hikite) is used to trap the attacker's arm while the front limb is used to strike the attacker twice. This is an example of what Motobu Choki called 'Meotode' or 'Husband and Wife Hands'. The hikite in shuto uke is often incorrectly thought of as a means to generate power or to protect the solar plexus. This line of thinking is false as the hikite has many practical applications.
This video is of Tegumi drill #11 from the KU (Koryu Uchinadi) curriculum. (Some modifications have been made). It has applications from Heian Yondan which makes it suitable for Shotokan practitioners who wish to explore practical kata applications. This drill starts with defending against a haymaker punch, one of the many Habitual Acts of Physical Violence (HAPV) using the opening movement of Heian Yondan. From there, tate shuto uke is used as a 'face wash' followed by a bicep bump (nukite), inside leg kick, elbow strike and a head butt. It teaches the tori to stay in control of an altercation by bombarding the attacker with a variety of techniques to create disorientation. The uke also benefits in that he/she gets used to training with physicality in a safe environment.
Training scars are the result of unavoidable flaws in our training. If not addressed, a training scar can result in dangerous habits. The advantage of partner drills is the fact that we can deal with a real person; we have real limbs to clear, a real body to off-balance etc., but we can’t hit with any significant impact for safety reasons. Pad work allows us the opportunity for percussive impact but introduces other scars; the pads may be in the wrong place for the targets they represent, they may be too far from the actual head we need to control and so on. Kihon can be useful in that we can work on proper technique, move with speed and there is no chance for injury. The obvious problem is that we don’t have a training partner. We can’t get a feel for distance, targets or all the subtleties associated in grappling. One dimensional training can lead to the development of scars or bad habits that may endanger us should we need to protect ourselves some day. By layering our training we can develop all the skills we need but at the same time we constantly replace one flaw with another. In this video, I will walk you through three layers of the same kata-based drill. One layer not included is the need for live and free partner work which gives an opportunity to improvise and adapt to a resisting opponent. This video is based on Iain Abernethy’s ‘Training Martix’ which can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmSz0...
This video shows how manji uke from Heian Godan can be used as defence against a guillotine choke. This application, by Leigh Simms, is used in conjunction with other Heian Godan techniques to flow in a loop. I have added an Empi uchi to allow Leigh's drill to to loop. I also use the pivot and final manji uke from Heian Godan to exit the loop with a takedown.
Flow drills, especially those that loop, are great in the sense that they allow for lots of repetition. However, they should be just one layer of our training. Like all drills, they introduce a training scar in the sense that they teach us to fail for the sake of the drill. We should also practice kata oyo with resisting partners in an unscripted manner.
The guillotine choke was presented as an application of Bassai Dai by Patrick McCarthy in his Aug 2017 seminar in Ormocto, NB.
This video is an extension of a looping flow drill previously posted. Flow drills have pros and cons. One obvious flaw is that by the very nature of such drills, your attempts to throw/strike/lock must fail for the sake of the drill. This is an example of a TRAINING SCAR which we must avoid. A training scar is a dangerous habit engrained by repetitive practice that can cause the practitioner harm. In this case, the scar is ALLOWING the uke to reverse our techniques, a habit we do not want to develop. This video offers an opportunity to break/exit from the flow at the discretion of the tori. The exit techniques demonstrated in this video are a version of Funakoshi’s byobu daoshi (to topple a folding screen) and a shoulder lock and wrist lock a juji uke (shown as a 'figure 4').
This two person drill loops indefinitely. There is no designated tori or uke as roles switch each time a loop is completed. The drill allows for repetitive practice with clinching for safety, grabbing the throat, obtaining wrist control, applying a shoulder lock and escaping. Elements of this drill were inspired by techniques found in drills from Koryu Uchinadi and One Minute Bunkai.
The salutation and opening movement of Chinte can be used to get free of a straight wrist grab and follow with a hammer fist strike. This video shows a beginner level application as well as a practical strategy to make your attacker grab your wrist in a predictable fashion. The concept for this video was borrowed from a Koryu Uchinadi drill taught by Geoff MacDonald at Bedford West Shotokan Karate in Nov 2017. The concept was used to fit the bunkai for Chinte.
In this drill, elbow strikes are used as entry techniques. Gedan berai is used as a limb-clearing technique. The knee raise is used to strike the uke's torso. The wheel turn is used to grab the head, pull it into the knee strike and twist the uke so he/she falls on his back. This is a mirror image of a drill by Iain Abernethy. This video explains how it fits to Shotokan's Kanku Dai.
Heian Yondan Bunkai: Knee Strike & Take-Down
From a Thai ClinchNear the end of Heian Yondan is an application from a Thai clinch. Hit the body with a knee then turn into kokutsu dashi (back stance) to take your opponent to the ground.
Empi Bunkai: Overhook and Takedown
The first movement of Empi can be used as a take-down from a clinch. This analysis explains the reason for holding the left fist to the solar plexus, the role of the right hand gedan berai and why we drop to the side on one knee.
Byobu daoshi is one of Master Funakoshi's 9 throws described in Karate-do Kyohan. It's very similar to judo's o soto gari. This video shows how to execute the throw from a clinch.
This video shows how movements 4 to 6 of Nijushiho can be used to parry a two-hand shove, control the head while throwing a shovel hook, and follow with a clinch and knee strike. Note that in this part of the kata, the left leg is back while the left arm sets up for a liver shot.
Here's a simple application for movements 4-6 in Nijushiho/Niseishi for a two hand shove. It addresses a common 'attack' but common sense should prevail regarding the level of force you choose to use for such a situation. In context, you already have your hands up and open in a passive yet 'prepared' position. Another variation would be to 'miss' with the upper level punch to quickly gain access to the neck for the clinch.
This flow drill adresses movements 1 to 6 of Heian Shodan. It incorporates the importance of angles, the role of hikite, clearing limbs, throws and dealing with predicted responses from the uke.
These techniques are inherently dangerous and should only be practiced under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
This flow drill utilizes applications from a number of katas including Kanku Dai, Heian Yondan, Heian Godan, Chinte and Gankaku. The uke is semi-compliant in that he covers up from attacks but does not attempt any attacks on his own. The drill teaches a means to flow into 'backup plans' when attacks fail. Not explained in the video is the throw at the end which comes from Kanku Dai.
BWSK Promotional video. Beginner classes start Sept 12 2017. Click on 'Register' to sign up!
In this semi-free drill, the uke is only allowed to grab and defend from strikes and throws, chokes and locks. It is meant to be a progression to 'free' practice and allows the tori an opportunity to recognize and capitalize on opportunities in a non-scripted manner.
In this short video, the returning wave kick and ude uke of Tekki Shodan are explained in the context of a double lapel grab. Shift and pull the arms to the uke's front leg and away from his power hand. Kick the knee as you move. The pull and kick will distract and off-balance the uke. Use the 'ude uke' as a strike to the exposed neck.
Bunkai for the opening movements of Tekki Shodan: Kake uke, empi uchi, 'cup and saucer' position, gedan berai and kake zuki. Filmed Aug 14 at the Halifax dojo.
This is dojo footage of some semi-free kata-based sparring. Applications from Kanku Dai can are used; dealing with chaos, using tactile sense to trap a blocked punch, obtaining a safe angle from which to counter attack, elbow strikes, head cranks, knees, a half wheel throw and more. We also played with an arm bar just for fun. Shot at Bedford West Shotokan Karate.
This video is dojo footage of a Heian Sandan flow drill applies techniques as locks and throws. An basic elbow lock as well as a shoulder lock is applied as well as an escape (not from the kata). The three throws include o soto gari Funakoshi called this byobu daoshi), koshi guruma and o goshi.
This video shows how to apply movements 4-6 of Heian Shodan from a clinch. The motion of the kensui (hammer fist) is used to break the grip and control the uke's lead arm. This is followed by a jodan zuki (face punch) as the distance is closed. The chambering elbow of the gedan berai is used as an elbow strike and to manipulate the uke's head. The follow through of the gedan berai is used as a take-down.
It is important to understand that the labelling of techniques as blocks, strikes etc cripples our imaginations when deciphering the movements of kata. A block is not a block. A strike is not a strike. Also, the application of a technique partly depends on the footwork used. The gedan berai in movement number 6 is used as a striking/takedown combination.
This video is a variation of a drill from Iain Abernethy which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u9cILjk1fo
This simple flow drill shows how the opening movements of Heian/Pinan Sandan can be applied. The elbow break and shoulder lock are not necessarily meant to be used as a combination. The drill merely provides an opportunity to apply the opening movements of the kata in a fluid manner.
Dojo Footage April 11 2017 Blocks, locks and take downs!
This is a simple one-technique flow drill that allows for many repetitions in applying gedan berai as an arm lock. The Drill incorporates some of the rules characteristic of good bunkai including the use of angles and the role of the lead and rear hands. The lead hand is used to lock the elbow as the rear hand (hikite) pulls the arm to the tori's hip. The footwork is necessary to acquire an advantageous angle to the uke. This makes allows the tori to avoid the uke's free hand and it puts the uke's shoulder in a weak position, making it difficult to resist once the motion is in place. The uke is compliant for this drill as it is one I teach to my beginning students. A good progression from here would be to apply the technique after a close range elbow that the uke attempts to shield himself from.
This flow drill uses taisho uchi, shuto uke and gedan berai, emphasizing the importance of the use of hikite (pulling hand) and how 'blocking' techniques can be used in various applications. What we typically refer to as 'blocking' techniques, or uke waza should not be thought of as 'blocks' as all as this limits our creativity in imagining possible applications. Uke waza can be used to strike, lock, trap, clear limbs and even throw.
Some dojo footage taken at Bedford West Shotokan Karate. We worked on mae geri, yoko geri kekomi and mawashi geri.
This video shows dojo footage shot at Bedford West Shotokan Karate in Jan 2017. A four punch combination with hand pads is followed by a take-down from Heian Godan (movement #23). Once the uke is on the mat, the arm is trapped to deliver a punch or two before finishing with an arm bar.
This is dojo footage filmed on Jan 17 2017 at Bedford West Shotokan Karate. Some ladder drills for a warm-up, a simple limb-clearing drill and some basic pad work.
This is a looping flow drill that uses movements 1 to 6 in addition to knife hand 'blocks' (shuto uke) from Heian Nidan. The drill allows for practice applying techniques for the purpose of limb control. Note that the uke in the drill is compliant to allow for the flow.
This dojo footage was taken in Oct 2016. Students of various ranks learned Funakoshi's byobu daoshi which is one of the nine throws he writes about in Karate-Do Kyohan.
This video shows an application for movements 1-3 in Heian Shodan.
This is a promotional video for Bedford West Shotokan Karate. Clips in the video show kata, ippon kumite, pad work and kata bunkai.