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Five Years, One Kata [Paperback]

Bill Burgar
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 3, 2003 0954446607 978-0954446604
This remarkable book gives the reader a unique insight into an amazing five-year study of a single kata (Gojushiho). It shows the depth that is waiting to be discovered by the close study of kata, covering an incredible range of subjects including: * imagery * the psychology of confrontation * the common acts of physical violence * vital points and how to exploit them * the methodology for the break-down and understanding of kata * the applications of the kata * the principles of karate and how to apply them * the applications (in detail) for each of the movements of Gojushiho * the major variations of each application * objective measurements regarding their practicality * how to link the applications together The author also explains how to undertake your own study using a single kata of your choice, and how to build a training regime based on the kata. If you have ever wondered what kata is really all about then this book is for you. When karate was a secret art, practiced in the back yards of Okinawa by a few dedicated masters and their disciples, it was usual to train in a single kata for many years. A master of karate would know just one, two or possibly three kata. Through the deep study of those few kata the master karateka would possess a complete self-defence system, he would be well versed in the underlying principles of karate and he would have a memory aid which would map out his complete training regime. Over the last century the practice of a single kata has disappeared from karate practice. The deep understanding of a few kata has been replaced by the superficial understanding of many. This book shows you in great detail how to recover that understanding and how to put kata back at the heart of karate. What leaders in the field have to say about the book: "Without question this book adds to the body of knowledge in the study of karate" - Rick Clark

Frequently Bought Together

Five Years, One Kata + The Way of Kata: A Comprehensive Guide for Deciphering Martial Applications + The Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill started training in a "traditional" Shotokan club in 1979 achieving first dan in 1983. He founded the Reading University Shotokan Karate Club where he taught for many years. Bill ran a karate magazine called Dojo Magazine for a number of years and has also had many articles published in other martial arts magazines, on the web and in web journals.

Bill has formed relationships with mentors considered leaders in the field. In 1995 he arranged Rick Clark's first tour of the UK and learned many aspects of kyusho and cross training first hand with Rick on each of his visits to the UK. As a result Bill has cross-trained and picked up knowledge from outside his core area of karate.

In 1996 Bill started on an experiment to focus exclusively on a single kata (Gojushiho) in a similar way to the old masters of Okinawa. Training alone Bill has explored the depths of the single kata and has written a book giving readers not only an insight into how single kata training can be of benefit but also showing the reader how to do this for themselves.

In June 2000 Rick Clark awarded Bill his 6th Dan. Bill continues to train in his personal dojo at his home with selected training partners.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Martial Arts Publishing (March 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954446607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954446604
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,333,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating April 5, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding tome which provides important insight for any karateka, not just Shotokan practitioners. Since each kata contains a fully developed, practical self-defense system, the ancient karate masters did not generally learn the plethora of forms we attempt to master today. Instead, they focused on one or two core forms such as naihanchi or sanchin kata, then went on to devote 5 or 10 years to deeply understand every nuance of one single additional form. Over time they internalized the strategy, principles, and tactics of that kata, mastering every detail. Once they fully understood all aspects of that kata, they might then pick-up another new form to study.

Over the last century, the practice of mastering a single kata has disappeared from our curricula. The deep understanding of a few kata has been replaced by the superficial practice of many. This book follows the author's five year experiment as he focused all his training on a single kata, Gojushiho. You will not only find unique insight into the Burger's experiment, but also develop improved understanding of your own forms and what you can learn from them. This is a great book, a worthy addition to your martial library.

Lawrence Kane
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, The Way of Kata, and Martial Arts Instruction
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting back to the source November 15, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I took a chance on buying this book without waiting for more reviews to come out on it. My interest was peeked by the study of one kata for five years. Why? Because this sounds like the original way in which Okinawans studied their kata. So I bought it and was not disappointed at all.
I would like to start buy saying that I believe Mr. Burgar did an excellent job in his overall presentation of his material in this book. It is easy to follow and is laid out in a logical sequencial manner. By stating that one Kaishugata is in itself a fighting system takes a bold step in this modern day world of "sport and game" karate. Finally a Shotokan stylist is getting back to the roots!
Those of us who have studied Okinawan Karate while always respecting Funakoshi, have needed an explanation as to why he changed so much of the kata when he introduced them to Japan. Here Mr. Burgar gives us the answer with Funakoshi's own words "that karate has changed so much from the way I learned it as a youth on Okinawa". Mr. Burgar then explains that karate was intended as a civilian self defense system.
On studying one kata the reader comes to realize that the techniques (bunkai) within the kata were designed to handle various habitual acts of violence that a person will run into in the everyday life. By careful analysis one can study this way given the careful criteria that is easily followed by this experienced karate-ka.
I applaud Mr. Burgar for writing for an advanced audience of practitioners. It is indeed refreshing to read something that may not be new to me but helps me to expound further into my own studies. I should mention that one can and should learn from any good book on karate.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind-expanding July 29, 2003
Format:Paperback
For those of you interested in a meaningful, reality-based analysis of kata, this is a book from heaven. Although Mr. Burgar is nominally a Shotokan practitioner, this book and the concepts contained therein are style-less. The book clearly demonstrates how anyone can analyze and develop a self-defense system from any kata. Many of the author's assertions and conclusions are challenging, to say the least; however,they are nevertheless carefully and logically explained utilizing researchable facts. I cannot remember the last time I read a martial art book that was laid out as rationally and logically with little unnecessary verbage. The book states clearly that its intended audience is upper-rank practioners and I would concurr. I would rate the book higher, but I don't give anything 5 stars.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding example of what kata training can be August 22, 2003
Format:Paperback
In recent years there has been a small revolution in the world of karate and cognate disciplines, as people have come to see that kata can really be useful for self defence. Thus it has become fashionable to develop bunkai or self defence applications for kata moves. This is a healthy development in my view, but sometimes the bigger picture is not clearly seen. What Bill Burgar has expertly done is show the bigger picture - how one kata can be a complete self defence system, not just a bag of random applications. An impressive amount of thought has gone into making the set of applications coherent and effective: Coherent in the sense that the set of applications as a whole provides responses to all of the most common acts of physical violence Bill believes he is likely to face, in the sense that there is balance in covering this set of likely attacks, and in the sense that the same moves can be used as likely continuations of outcomes of using the very same moves. Bill has thought about efficiency in terms of reducing the set of moves to as a small a set as possible to prevent complicated decisions, while maintaining flexiblity in responding effectively to different "what if" scenarios. Further, Bill points out that the problem these days is not in generating SOME application for a given kata move; it's in mercilessly throwing out applications that do not get through a strict filter. Bill provides a list of criteria to assess potential applications against; those that fail must be discarded.
In my view, the genius shown in the book lies not in any individual bunkai shown but in how they all fit together, how Bill satisfied many simultaneous constraints to create a lean efficient but flexible self defence system.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Aleksanda Fatic's review!
1st half of the book--awesome! 2nd half, by comparison, dull as dishwater!

Still an extremely valuable read for anyone interested in the true soul and purpose of kata,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by R. Bianca
5.0 out of 5 stars The only other book to cover a Kata in such depth
Only one other book I have read so far goes into this level of detail on a single Kata. The author gives us some great insight into the applications of the Kata Gojushiho. Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by Nicholas Guinn
4.0 out of 5 stars Sobering
This is an excellent piece of work. Mr Burger writes well, and expounds, without hesitation, rather "heretic" views in the karate community. Read more
Published on May 15, 2009 by Aleksandar Fatic
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Martial Arts Text
I am a police officer and have a Shodan in Shotokan. I have studied Goju Ryu for several years as well. Read more
Published on November 4, 2007 by Todd Dow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Years, One Kata
This book was all I expected based on the various reviews. It contains very favourable reviews from Patrick McCarthy and Vince Morris, both of whom I have trained under, and... Read more
Published on January 8, 2007 by R. James
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read
There are a lot of books in my bookshelf and I read all of them. Some are good, some are bad. The "Burgar-Book" is an outstanding work because the author isn't a practitioner of a... Read more
Published on September 2, 2003 by Thomas Schwenke
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