Last weekend (February 14th - 15th) the Bunkai course with Iain Abernethy (6th Dan) took place in Achim (near Bremen / Germany).
The course was organized and hosted by the Shotokan department of TSV Achim. An estimated 100 to 120 Karateka found their way to Achim to get new ideas and techniques from Iain in the areas of Bunkai and self-defense.
Copyright / Picture: TSV Achim
The training schedule included bunkai and drills for the katas Kanku-Dai/Kushanku (2 training sessions of 2 hours each) and Pinan/Heian Yondan (also 2 training sessions of 2 hours each). The course offer was rounded off by a unit on the subject of karate gripping skills (clinching / grabbing / throwing entrances) as well as another training unit on karate throws and takedowns.
All in all, the athletes worked hard in the hall for 14 to 15 hours during the 2 days. Minus breaks the participants had a training workload of 11 hours on both days.
The amazing thing for me personally was, that on the one hand the time went by very fast and on the other hand Iain Abernethy managed to not get bored for a second or even overstrained. Beside his vivid explanations, which he presented in a very humorous and relaxed way, I was also impressed by his amazing precision and speed with which he performed the techniques. The constant change between listening and trying out was beautiful (or as lain used to say: are you ok with that? go out and play! :D).
The two kata-drills were one of the highlights of the course for me. Instead of always extracting a very short sequence from the kata and practicing it, here the respective kata was performed in one piece directly at the partner. This way a really nice flow was created and one could practice different techniques from positions that could never be reached otherwise. A wonderful addition and really great way to pass on knowledge about Bunkai.
Interesting and a real aha-experience was towards the end, which one could combine nearly to each sequence of the Kata with another one, in order to take up and defend for example counter-attacks of the opponent. For me the whole thing resulted in a completely new view on what I thought I already knew. Just the fact, which results from the drill and the example Kanku-Dai (e.g. 180 degree turn shot and down to the ground), that not every direction in the kata necessarily reflects the direction of the attacker, but also the possible movement and reorientation relative to the opponent himself. If you were there you surely understand what I mean 😉
Iain Abernethy is even more likeable because he makes no secret of his enormous knowledge, but actively tries to ensure that the course participants can take the knowledge home with them. Towards the end of each training session, all participants were allowed to take out their smartphones and cameras to film Iain as he once again performed the complex overall sequence of the kata drill as well as the throwing and leverage techniques on a partner.
So every person at home has the possibility to look at what he has learned and if necessary to use it in his karate. Very big cinema in my opinion! Also in the breaks he was always available with advice and action, fulfilled autograph wishes, and was always in a good mood for a chat.
I personally would like to advise everyone to visit a course with Iain! It is enormous what you can take from him for yourself and your karate. On his homepage you can always find the current course dates. In April he will be back in Germany (Dresden) with Bunkai for the Katas Bassai-Dai and Bassai-Sho.
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