Kanku Sho – Applying the Principles
Review by Emma Robins
The newest instalment in the series of kata application DVDs, Kanku Sho – Applying the Principles is another great presentation of kata bunkai at its best; gutsy, real and violent.
This DVD offers examples of bunkai taught by Sensei Mark Carroll, 6th Dan, and brings a sense of realism to a kata widely known as a competition kata, often seen performed in the finals in competitions across the globe.
Now, had I not been told the name of this DVD I probably would have assumed it was a self defence DVD, or a street style basics DVD. The first mention of the fact that this is all playing towards a deeper understanding of a kata is thirteen minutes into the DVD. Up until this point, Carroll teaches the idea of using and manipulating distance when using tsuki techniques, and places huge focus on not just punching air. He uses impactive training to emphasise the power generated by different tsuki from varied distance, and then furthers the exercise by encouraging the students to remember that targets will move once they’ve been hit!
How this links to Kanku Sho is gradually, but firmly revealed through the bunkai sections of the DVD. There are nine sections dedicated to the bunkai of the kata:
Koko Hiraku Combination
Zenpo Gedan Barai, Furioshi Uchi
Bo Uke / Tobiageri Combination
Keage / Ura Ken Combination
Mikazuki Geri Combination
Shuto, Uchi Uke, Oi Tsuki
The entire DVD is filmed as a lesson, with cameras set up to simply record Carroll teaching in the dojo. Never does he stop the class to address the camera, or even look directly into the camera. It provides a very natural feel, almost as if you are training in the dojo yourself!
The other positive about filming the DVD in this manner is that as the students are performing the bunkai themselves, any problems that arise are seen and fixed during the filming. Often the DVD is simply watching the students performing the bunkai themselves, and at points throughout the lesson Carroll will stop the class to address an ‘error’ or ‘bad habit’ that has become evident. This is a great approach, as one of the major problems with karate DVDs - particularly ones that teach partner work – is that when it comes time to put what you’ve taken from the DVD into practice, something inevitably doesn’t ‘feel right’ or simply doesn’t work, and there’s not much you can do about it. No point trying to ask a DVD to clarify a point! In this DVD the questions are answered, and anything that isn’t working for students is clarified as a part of the lesson.
Throughout the bunkai section of the DVD, Carroll structures his lesson not only around the actual bunkai, but continually transfers between bunkai, street kata, and dojo kata. This is an extremely effective way of teaching the kata, as Carroll’s innovative ‘street kata’ is an excellent tool for developing the gutsier side of kata, and for specifically building up the aggressive mindset for a realistic performance of kata. By working from bunkai, to street kata, to dojo kata we are observing the process that the karate goes through from one section to another, and it becomes clear just how effective the bunkai are. It also means that students can use street kata to develop the correct mind set for the kata, and then transfer this mind set directly into the performance of the dojo kata.
To further clarify the link between the bunkai and the kata, whilst the student are performing sections of bunkai, there is a small inset image of the kata being performed in the top of the screen, showing exactly how the bunkai relates to each section of the kata.
The DVD ends with, firstly a full performance of the kata Kanku Sho, and then the bunkai performed alongside the kata as an entirety, reviewing exactly what has been covered during the lesson, and how it connects to the performance of the kata.
All in all, the DVD is another example of how Carroll is working to make kata real again, and how his development of ‘street kata’ is being used to aid his students, not only in bringing a sense of realism to their karate, but also to develop the correct mindset and attitude towards kata, and to all karate.
A DVD that I have no doubt will be used, and - shall we say – borrowed from by many instructors!