New books for the karate researcher

There are a couple of new books out on the Kindle Store that I am quite excited about, and wanted to provide an update on.

Fresh out today is Tales from the Western Generation: Untold Stories and Firsthand History from Karate’s Golden Age by Matt Aspokardu of Ikigai Way fame. This book looks to be the most comprehensive treatment of the Western masters who have been instrumental in the development of karate as we know it today. Matt is one of the new generation of karateka who are working hard to balance the the traditions and the ongoing development of karate.

The second volume is A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History by Andreas Quast. A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History is based upon Mr Quast’s previous research and publications, particularly the scholarly Karate 1.0. A Stroll is perhaps written to be more accessible for those not academically inclined, or as a complementary volume for those who wish to have a companion version at hand for quick reference.

With my current schedule of international travels, I have been able to access both books in Kindle format, and have downloaded to my iPad for reading on the go. Both are welcome additions, and I look forward to getting into them.

Congratulations to Messrs Apsokardu and Quast on their publications – both of which are clearly built on the back of thousands of hours of research and writing.

New book on Jo

The jo (four foot staff) is a weapon that I have enjoyed the study of for many years, but have always lamented that the published material available about it centres around either the Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu style, or the Aikijo practices in many Aikido schools.

The school of karate I practice is based on an Okinawan/Japanese style which has always practiced the bo (6 foot staff) and sai (iron truncheon).

While living in Japan and training at the hombu dojo between 1991 and 1993 I was fascinated to discover that the jo was one the third wepon originally emphasised by the founder, Kaiso Kori Hisataka (1907–88). Unfortunately the practice of the jo lay dormant in the mainline school and the descendent schools.

In the intervening years I made it my mission to research the jo, a process that ultimately led to the introduction of the kata Ufuchiku no jo to our organisation. Subsequently Kaicho Shunji Watanabe of the Shorinjiryu Kenyukai Watanabe-Ha school (with which we were affiliated for several years) also reintroduced the practice of another kata (alternatively called Shishiryu no Jo or Kudaka no Jo).

In my research I began to realise that the practice of the jo was important among the bushi of the Shuri Court, and can be found in several styles of Udundi (palace hand) and Ti extant today.

With this background I am pleased to see that others have also seen the importance of the jo for karate practitioners, as it is a versatile weapon that has real relevance today. Poles and rods in the 3—4 foot range are common and can be used as makeshift weapons of defence.

The first book that I am aware of to take an indepth look at the Jo from a non-Aikijo persective has been written by Dan Djurdjevic.

Essential Jo promises to be “the most comprehensive text on the subject to date”, and is said to be well-illustrated with over 900 photographs.

I have ordered a copy, and look forward to providing a review soon.

The End of 24 Fighting Chickens?

24 Fighting Chickens is a long standing blog and forum that has served to challenge many of the common perceptions about karate’s methods, applications, practices and history. The publisher of the site, Rob Redmond kicked off the in 1995, at a time when the web was hardly known, and when karate related websites were few and far between.

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the site, and Rob has posted that the 24 Fighting Chickens is coming to an end.

I’m looking around, and I think we’re done here. Time to lower the flags of discontent, and move on to other projects.

I am saddened to see this, but wish to recognise Rob for his achievements in fighting the mainstream beliefs of karate. His efforts have caused many karateka, particularly those in mainstream Japanese styles, to analyse the roots and purpose of karate with more of an open-mind. I have agreed with many of Rob’s perspectives and opinions, and disagreed with others. I applaud his efforts to challenge people’s thinking.

Thanks Rob. Best wishes for your next endeavours.

The Classical Budoka talks Dojo Variations

Wayne Muramoto Sensei talks about Dojo Variations:

And I think, too, of what my jujutsu sensei said once; that before dojo structures, martial artists used to train outdoors, out in nature, so they were in tune with the greater natural world, the “daishizen,” much more than we were. Handling a sword, maneuvering for a throw, handling a weapon, were part and parcel of their total world experience, as much a natural part of their lives as cutting firewood, knowing when it would rain or snow, intuitively sensing the lay of the land or knowing the changing of the seasons. In that sense, even the most “traditional” dojo is still a controlled environment at least one step removed from the roots of ancient martial arts, which came out of being embedded in nature’s own environment and rhythms

I’ve long been of the opinion that the dojo functions best as a home base, but that you need to get outside and train also – gasshuku (training camps) are one opportunity, but so too are everyday opportunities to train in the park.

In the karate tradition, few master had dojo, as such, before World War 2. Most trained in backyards, and even at the family tomb.

The dojo is a laboratory, but outside is where the real learning takes place.

From: The Classic Budoka | Dojo Variations

The Applied Karate Show Episode 15 – Joe Berne Sempai

Applied Karate #015 (mp3 – 40MB – 84 mins)

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 014 OF THE APPLIED KARATE SHOW

JoeBerne

Well folks, my intentions about getting a monthly podcast out were pure. Following on from the September episode with Chris Denwood Sensei, I recorded the October episode in plenty of time, only to have a bunch of gremlins strike. They seem to be resolved now, so hopefully we’re back on track.

Our guest for Episode 15 of The Applied Karate Show is Joe Berne, Sempai, a Seido practioner and blogger behind the Karate Conditioning blog.

Joe began training in Seido Karate in 1988 at the Karate Club of his college, the State University of New York at Buffalo.  The class was taught by Shuseki Shihan Christopher Caile (who went on to create Fightingarts.com, a well known website with content about a variety of martial arts).  He trained there, and at the style’s New York City Honbu dojo, through 1994, at which time he earned his shodan in Seido Karate.  A variety of injuries and life issues kept him away from training, but he returned in 2006.  Then living in Maryland, he began training under Jun Shihan Kate Stewart, and has remained there since then.  He recently earned his sandan at the 2011 Gasshuku in upstate New York.

Joe began studying strength and conditioning informally in high school in a vain attempt to qualify for the (American) football team.   He resumed his studies with a vengeance after taking up karate again in 2006 as he tried to use science to make up for the damage done by over a decade of a sedentary and hypercaloric lifestyle.  He has made a part time job out of reading and viewing everything available in the field of strength and conditioning that can relate in any way to martial arts performance.

The wide ranging discussions with Joe covered such topics as

  • Joe’s introduction to, and background in, karate
  • Strength tools (including the wonderful kettlebell)
  • Training for martial arts skills
  • Stretching for karate
  • Training for injury avoidance
  • Nutrition tips and the Paleo diet

This was a fascinating interview with a karateka who has clearly invested a lot of time and thought into his training and the strength and conditioning program required to support it. I heartily recommend you visit and subscribe to Joe’s blog Karate Conditioning.

Applied Karate #015 (mp3 – 40MB – 84 mins)

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 014 OF THE APPLIED KARATE SHOW

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 podcast@appliedkarate.com. 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 Facebook.com/appliedkarate.

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