Title: Karate Kata Applications
Publisher's site: Random House
Amazon link: Karate Kata Applications
Price £14.99
ISBN #: 009180938X
Date: 1995
Author/s Aidan Trimble & Vince Morris

Book over showing various moves from Shotokan kata

Karate Kata Applications

Given the importance of kata in almost all styles of karate, books exploring how to perform it, and what it means, should be high on any serious martial artist's Christmas list.

This title examines the first 13 Shotokan kata, shows how they should be performed, and offers explanations for some of the movements.

Considering that GKR uses a number of Shotokan kata within its syllabus, this seemed like a good place to find out more about some of our kata. GKR kata included are Bassai-Dai, Empi, Hangetsu, Kanku-Dai and Sochin. However, you should bear in mind that there are differences between styles, so this is not really a useful aid to help you to learn the kata the GKR way.

Each kata is examined in three ways - first of all there's a step-by-step, then a look at some applications, then a sequence.

The step-by-step section is a series of images showing every step of the kata, complete with multi-camera shots, and guidelines to help you to find the correct angles, stance proportions and striking/blocking positions.

The applications section is the main reason that I bought this book, in my never-ending search for kata bunkai. The mere fact that multiple bunkai are offered for some moves, only goes to show that the authors do not claim to provide anything like a definitive bunkai. That's good, because some of the offerings are complete rubbish. Others however, provide valuable explanations for seemingly inscrutable moves within our kata. However, the book's greatest weakness is that it doesn't even attempt to provide bunkai for every single move within each kata, leaving you on occasion frustrated. Here, it might have been better to have focussed on fewer kata, but to have covered each one exhaustively. I for one, would be more than willing to buy an entire book on a single kata if I felt that it added lots of valuable insight on performance, bunkai and oyo (alternate applications).

Sadly, apart from a general overview at the start of the book, Karate Kata Applications offers no performance tips at all, although to be fair, its title doesn't suggest that it will. But in that case, why the detailed step-by-step and sequence sections?

Speaking of the sequence, this final section shows each move of the kata photographed from a front view, so that you can see its movement and progression.

The photography is better than most, although it seems ill-considered to photograph people dressed in white gis against a white wall.

Aidan Trimble performs the kata, whilst Vince Morris assists him in the application demonstrations.

The book opens with an introduction to kata in general, and some performance tips. Each kata is also prefaced with a very superficial overview. Beyond that, each kata and its applications are described solely using photographs, at times leaving you wanting further explanation and clarification.

What writing there is, is clear and easy to understand, and despite the fact that I think that this book attempted to do too much, it's still one of the better kata books I've seen.

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