Five Years One Kata by Bill Burgar

five years one kata"May very well be the best book on kata I have ever read"
Patrick McCarthy

"No martial artist serious about gaining a true understanding of kata should miss this work"
Vince Morris

No matter which master talks about the origins of karate, one thing remains constant irrespective of teacher or style: students in the old days were taught one kata, and one kata only, for a long time before being allowed to progress to a second kata. The usual time-frame given is perhaps three years.

Clearly the Okinawan masters agreed on one thing: it was better to know one kata – and its fighting applications – in depth than to know many with no mastery of any particular one.

Well, times have changed and most karateka think more in terms of months than years, when it comes to learning a new kata. Which is what makes Bill Burgar’s study all the more remarkable. As the title suggests, Five years One kata is the story of his study of a single kata ‘Gojushiho’ in incredible depth over five year. Based on the premise that each kata is a complete fighting system in its own right, he explores not only the kata movements, its applications and their variations, but also develops a well thought out method of measuring a technique’s practicality against a set of criteria.

Still from the same kata he goes on to examine the use of imagery, the psychology of confrontation, common acts of physical violence, vital points and how to exploit them, culminating in a fascinating study that shows the depth of kata, when understood and approached correctly.

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