Book Review: How To Win a Fight by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder

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Prolific martial authors Lawrence Kane & Kris Wilder (guest on Episode 3 of The Applied Karate Show podcast) have done it again, with a brand new book targeted to young people (actually young men) helping them to win in physical conflict.

How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence (aff.) is purposely written and illustrated with a tone and layout that the authors hope will get the message through to a large audience who needs to hear that fighting and violence is hardly romantic, is generally not “fair”, and rarely resolves the issue.

To get their message across, Kane and Wilder teamed up with veteran DC Comics artist/illustrator Matt Haley. The comic-book style imagery engages the mind and tells the story clearly and succinctly. With the popularity of comics in recent story telling (see TV shows like The Big Bang TheoryHeroes, and even NCIS for examples), I applaud this approach, and really enjoyed the parallel approach with the detailed written descriptions.

I like it that How to Win a Fight takes a pragmatic view of violence, detailing how most seemingly random violence is unnecessary and is for the most part avoidable. The authors describe the pre-incident indicators that lead up to violence, and describe how to recognise these and (critically) avoid them!

The book continues into detail into escape and evasion techniques, then describes the mental and physical techniques that are vital if the encounter is unavoidable. Unusual for a self-defence book, the authors then describe what to do after a fight, including aspects of first aid and the need for first aid training, dealing with the police and possible legal problems and the post-traumatic stress aspects.

How To Win A Fight is a terrific book that tells a sobering and realistic story of violence, and is one that all karate and martial arts enthusiasts who study the defensive aspects of the tradition should own. It’ll be on the reading list for my students at the Kengokan Dojo in Sydney, Australia. The message is important, and I love how Kane and Wilder have worked hard to get the message through to the group of people that most needs it.

Messrs Wilder and Kane teach Goju Karate at West Seattle Karate, and are the hosts of the always excellent Martial Secrets podcast.

Buy How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence (aff.) on now. On sale from 4 October 2011.

The Applied Karate Show Episode 14 – Chris Denwood Sensei

Applied Karate #014 (mp3 – 27MB – 60 mins) DOWNLOAD EPISODE 014 OF THE APPLIED KARATE SHOW

Kicking off our new monthly schedule of podcasts in The Applied Karate Show podcast series is episode 14, featuring Chris Denwood sensei of the Eikoku Satori Karate-do Kyokai (E.S.K.K®).

Chris has been practicing martial arts since childhood, having started under the watchful eye of instructors like Doug James sensei of the British Karate-Do Chojinkai and Iain Abernethy sensei (guest on Episode 9 of The Applied Karate Show podcast), and currently holds the rank of 4th Dan with the English Karate Federation. He is Founder and Chief Instructor of the E.S.K.K® and a senior instructor with the British Karate-Do Chojinkai, one of the most respected and successful associations in the UK. He is also a nationally qualified fitness coach and advanced level kettlebell lifting instructor.

A columnist and key writer for Combat, Traditional Karate and Jissen magazines, as well as a regular contributor to a number of other martial arts/fitness periodicals and online publications, Chris has written over sixty pieces on subjects including the technical and pragmatic aspects of traditional karate, functional fitness, kettlebell lifting and general motivation/positive thinking.

Chris is also author of the internationally acclaimed two-disc kata bunkai DVD Acorns to Oak Trees and has recently published his first book entitled Respecting the Old Creating the New, which is an accumulation of around five years work, combining a selection of his articles on traditional karate for self-protection and personal growth.

Chris currently lives on the edge of the western Lake District in Cumbria, England, where he regularly trains with and teaches to a dedicated membership of karate practitioners and fitness enthusiasts. He is also active on the seminar circuit, where his courses and workshops have gained excellent reviews from martial artists nationwide.

I trust you enjoy this interview with Chris Denwood sensei, a karateka who struck me as being very sincere, thoughtful and dedicated to the pursuit of classical karate. Chris discusses his approach to karate and strength and conditioning training, his background, his 2010 trip to Okinawa and much more. You can get in touch with Chris sensei through the web links above.

We love feedback. Email can be sent to For up-to-date info on the Applied Karate Show, follow us on Twitter – we’re @appliedkarate. Of course, you can leave a comment below, or join us for the ongoing conversation on The Applied Karate Show Facebook page at

I’d appreciate it if you could rate us and leave a comment in iTunes through the music store.

Movement by Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro

The following YouTube video shows an excerpt of a seminar by Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro, 10th Dan, of Seibukan Karatedo, the style founded by his father (Zenryo Shimabukuro sensei) based on the Shorinjiryu of Master Chotoku Kyan.

In various videos of Hanshi Shimabukuro, I’ve constantly been impressed by his masterful demonstration of power and economy of movement. A very interesting video.

Kenkokan Dojo Renovations

I was interested to see that the Shorinjiryu Kenkokan So-Hombu Dojo in Tokyo is being renovated. The Shorinjiryu Kenkokan headmaster (and my former teacher), So Shihan Masayuki Hisataka (Hanshi 9th Dan) has recorded a short video showing the work in progress.

I spent 2 years training at the Kenkokan So-Hombu Dojo, and it is interesting to see the renovations. Operating since 1955 in the current location (near Waseda in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward), the Dojo was quite small but had a great atmosphere. I loved every minute of my time training there.

It looks like the new dojo will be larger and will have sprung wooden floors and walls, with tatami mats to allow for practice of throwing techniques and ground fighting.

Congratulations to Hisataka Sensei and all at the Kenkokan on the new dojo. I look forward to seeing news from the official re-opening in October.

USMC Knife Hand Technique

My friend Kevin (@kevinwithnall) sent me the following YouTube video link of a US Marine demonstrating a knife hand technique in an informal situation.

Whilst I don’t suggest people should try it for themselves like this, it does go to show how light a touch can result in a knock-out technique. The carotid sinus is quite a sensitive point.

Iain Abernethy Releases Beyond Bunkai DVD

Beyond BunkaiIain Abernethy, Sensei (guest on episode 9 of The Applied Karate Show podcast) has announced the release of a new DVD called Beyond Bunkai.

I’ve always found Iain’s DVDs to be very professional, with excellent production quality and interesting and thought-provoking content. I’ve appreciated recently that Iain has been releasing some of his titles as downloadable movies, and hope that he will add Beyond Bunkai as a download soon!

According to Iain’s newsletter update,

This DVD presents a unique non-scripted flow drill that includes all the motions found within Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan. Ideal for the more experienced bunkai practitioner, and essentially infinite in its variations, this drill shows the depth of Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan and includes gripping skills, head-butting, biting, gouging, seizing, locking, controlling limbs, chokes, cranks, takedowns and close-range kicking.

This drill is also unlike most flow drills in that it is not carefully scripted nor does it involve giving up a position of advantage so your partner can have their turn. The drill instead enables the practitioner to dominate at close-range, flow past any obstructions the enemy may present, safely escape, and practise applying the bunkai of the kata in a realistic context. This DVD also includes a breakdown of the kata itself and a discussion on the history of Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan.

Iain Abernethy is one of the world’s leading exponents of kata application and practical karate. He has been invited all over the globe to teach his approach and to help people return to the original combative nature of the traditional martial arts.

Beyond Bunkai is available in PAL and NTSC format from

Naihanchin 360

Thanks to the fine folks at for posting this interesting interpretation of a classic kata – Naihanchin (also known as Naihanchi, Naifuanchi or Tekki).

As a kata, I’ve long been fascintated by Naihanchin, and the possibilities this seemingly simplistic form provides us through its myriad of applications.

As a practitioner of Shorinjiryu karate, Naihanchin is usually one of the first forms learned. Yet the Naihanchin forms in Shorinjiryu differ markedly from those in most classical systems, with our forms having a lot more movement, including larger steps, and movement away from the lateral line. Many can’t see the connection between a Shorinjiryu Naihanchin and that practiced in other styles, without first seeing the missing link forms, such as Naihanchin no Sho (as taught in the Watanabe Ha lineage), and the Koshiki Naihanchin form introduced in the Kenkokan organisation.

Watching the Naihanchin 360 form shows that clearly the applications seen by many are more expansive than the base pattern lets on.

Similarly, the Naihanchin application used in the Kodo-ryu of Nathan Johnson sensei shows that the kata is very much a grappling form, at least from their perspective.

I’d be interested in hearing other perspectives on Naihanchin and its applications.