Book Review: The Way of Kata by Lawrence A. Kane and Kris Wilder

Here’s another book review for you: “The Way of Kata” by Lawrence A. Kane and Kris Wilder

Lawrence A. Kane

Kriw Wilder

Kris Wilder

The book starts with two forewords, one by Dr. Jeff Cooper and the other by Iain Abernethy. Next is a short preface and introduction, in which the format of the book is explained.

Chapter 1 gives the background fundamentals. This covers some history of martial arts and their forms, for the most part Japanese ones. Then we move on to the different types of applications and sparring, why you can’t immediately find the applications in kata, hidden moves and more.

Chapter 2 explains strategy and tactics as they are found in the movements of kata. The authors first give some interesting context and perspective on this topic and then explain the main strategies of the art they practice, Goju ryu karate: Close distance, Imbalance and Use physiological damage to control. This strategy is then expanded upon by a list of 9 principles that both illustrate and clarify them. These are invaluable for deciphering kata and making the movements functional. After this comes a short overview of the tactics Goju employs to follow its strategy.

The third chapter is a meaty one: it explains the 15 principles for understanding the strategical aspects of interpreting kata and discover the applications within. Some of these principles are:

  • There’s more than one proper interpretation of any movement.
  • Work with the adrenaline rush, not against it.
  • Deception is not real.
  • Cross the T to escape.

Every principle is then explained in detail and with an example. You also get a drawing of the technique to illustrate it. Good stuff.

The next chapter covers the “rules” that you must judge your interpretation by. These are basically a checklist that you have to run the techniques you extract from a kata by, to check if your interpretation is valid. The authors identify three main and nine additional rules to help you with your kata study. I’m not going to list them here as I feel they are the most valuable part of the book. If you want to know, buy it.

Next up is a chapter containing miscellaneous information. On the one hand, it’s a primer on human predator behavior and psychology, on the other it explains physiological reactions to violence and also covers vital points. If you’re new to this material, it’s a good place to start reading but there’s a lot more to be said on these topics.

Chapter six brings it all together, helping you to interpret techniques from kata, by showing typical examples but also improved interpretations along with some additional information. The final chapter shows techniques from each of the kata from Goju ryu and more: the authors give you the full thought process on how they go from kata to actual interpretation. You also get a nifty checklist to follow these steps. I particularly enjoyed this chapter for such an organized approach.

The book ends with a conclusion, a few appendices and a glossary of both Japanese terms as well as drawings of techniques. Once again, a pretty complete picture.

Interest:

The Way of Kata is an interesting book as it goes deep into the theory of how to make kata functional for real-world self defense. Wilder and Kane go in-depth on all the aspects of this topic and they don’t shy away from detail. If anything, you might feel overwhelmed by the wealth of information. To put it clearly, it’s the best and most complete book on this subject I’ve read so far.

If you practice Goju ryu, you need to buy this book, there’s no argument. If you practice karate, you better get it too because it’ll help you tremendously with your kata. There is such an amount of information, you’re bound to pick up new ideas.

The only caveat I have is this: If you train a non-Japanese martial art, check the information with your teacher. There are some principles and rules that do not apply across the board. I practice mainly Chinese arts and some of the advice in this book is in direct conflict with these particular arts. In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing: the authors don’t claim to have a universally recognized theory on kata. Just be forewarned and double-check before you reach any conclusions.

Quality:

This is a pretty thick volume with loads of clear pictures and nice drawings. Especially these illustrations are of great quality. Good stuff.

Buy it here:


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Comments

  1. After all these useful information about the book, I’m definitely interested to obtain and read it carefully. Thank you!

  2. After all these useful information about the book, I’m definitely interested to obtain and read it carefully. Thank you!

  3. if u like kata and want to learn more about its application i know of no one more qualified than Hanshi Patrick McCarthy. he was the author of the bubishi and founder of koryu uchinadi. he has several books out. i really like the one on the history of the karate masters.

    • I know Mr. McCarthy by reputation but haven’t read any of his work yet. One more for my reading list… Thanks for mentioning it.

  4. if u like kata and want to learn more about its application i know of no one more qualified than Hanshi Patrick McCarthy. he was the author of the bubishi and founder of koryu uchinadi. he has several books out. i really like the one on the history of the karate masters.

    • I know Mr. McCarthy by reputation but haven’t read any of his work yet. One more for my reading list… Thanks for mentioning it.

  5. i would suggest the bubishi for your first read by mcCarthy sensei. its one of my favs.it wont disappoint if u like to know history and such.

  6. i would suggest the bubishi for your first read by mcCarthy sensei. its one of my favs.it wont disappoint if u like to know history and such.

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