For anyone who's interested in the pragmatic side of Karate (or martial arts in general) I would highly recommend Andi Kidd's Bunkai Bash down in Calne in Wiltshire on 8th - 10th July, probably the premier event of the year in the pragmatic field (in both senses of the word ) Totally non style specific, we typically have Shotokan, Goju, Wado, TKD, TSD guys all training together.
Some of the countries top instructors, Andi Kidd, Rakesh Patel, Paul Herbert, John Titchen, Leigh Simms (and many others)
£75 for 15 hours training, camping fees and BBQ (plus free t-shirt) is a bit of a bargain.
It struck me that this section is actually titled "Event promotion AND REVIEWS" and we never feed back on the events we've been to. Since I did a review for my FB page anyway I thought I'd cut'n'paste it here as well.
8th-10th July, Blacklands Lake Campsite, Calne, Wiltshire.
Firstly a little disclaimer, this was my third time at the Bash so I am already a big fan, but anyone who knows what a cynical old b*gger I am should also know that I'm not easily impressed so this is a good thing Also, I'm quite old now, so if I've forgotten something then apologies in advance.
The weekend itself is hosted at Blacklands Lake campsite, the site is large, tidy and well serviced with good washing and toilet facilities, after that it's as comfortable as you want to make it and our group ranged from the full caravan/awning set up to the smallest one man tent. Attendees (both male and female) ranged from mid teens to approaching 60 and styles/arts represented included Wado, Goju and Shotokan all training together, no politics, no egos, just a lot of sharing and a lot of fun.
The weekend sessions actually start on the Friday evening at 6:30pm and, although reasonably attended are quieter than the rest of the weekend as people are still travelling in but if you are fortunate enough to be there they are a great way to ease yourself into the weekend (and set yourself up for the post training curry in Calne ). This year we kicked off with an interesting Jo kata 2 person flow drill from Chris Marshall (the solo form of which is available on the Bunkai Bash FB page) , this was as much a mental as physical session as many of us are not regular weapon users but was a good gentle way to get into the weekend. This was followed by a short session on bear hug escapes and the issues presented by most of the "classic" escapes you see on YouTube. This was a messy, physical session but some good Q&A and was primarily intended to provoke some thought into what happens when your nice tidy technique just doesn't work and everybody was already happy to throw their ideas into the pot by that stage.
Saturday was a pretty full day with a wide variety of subject matter covered by some of the countries top pragmatic instructors, in fact this year the Bash went international with the inclusion of Jan Drachmann from Denmark (more on that later). The sessions are all fairly short, typically 45 minutes or so, so although you are getting a lot of information thrown at you over the course of the weekend it is all broken down into manageable chunks.
We had a couple of sessions from Rakesh Patel on the use of your primary strike and how to adapt and put yourself into a position to use (and continue to use) that strike in a changeable situation. We had some interesting sessions from John Titchen based around his Hiean/Pinan flow drills, applying the techniques and body mechanics for Heian Nidan and Sandan from likely clinch/grab situations you may find in a real fight and variations on strategy depending on how the situation pans out. We had a fairly physical session from Andi Kidd (no surprises there ) on progressive pad drills aimed at getting students to understand that (as karate is primarily a striking art) they can actually hit, and hit well and then progressing the drills through increasing levels of difficulty and randomness to teach them to continue to hit well in ever less controlled situations.
The physical sessions were interspersed with a couple of fascinating sit down lecture sessions by James Hall and Leigh Simms.
James did a talk on the moral and ethical interpretations of your actions within a self protection/conflict scenario and implications of how your judgements/actions at the time may be interpreted by others at a later date based on differing moral views and an understanding coming from a non stressed viewpoint and with the full benefit of hind sight, it is well worth understanding these ideas and concepts should you ever be in the unfortunate position to actually have articulate and justify your actions later.
Leigh did a workshop on UK Law and how it applies to self protection situations and what is and is not "self defence" (a legal term). Again, this is information that all martial artists should understand. The session was very much an interactive Q&A and scenario based discussion and was particularly interesting as we had a serving police officer as part of the group so could get an impression of the immediate response to any actions you may have taken and the probably long term outcomes within the UK legal system.
The session from Jan Drachmann (actually a joint session between Jan, Andi and Steve White) was particularly fascinating for me as it's something I've banged on about (on and off) from many years but never had the opportunity to try. I won't actually go into too much detail, because a) to do it justice would require a book in itself and b) I don't know if Jan wants it out there for public consumption. What I will say was that it was a very effective (and enjoyable and thought provoking) demonstration of the (probable) origins of kata, how they relate to application, how they change and develop with transmission, how the understanding of the original meaning is lost, and how meaning is re-applied to these kata based upon the experiences and understanding of the person researching the kata. Still trying to hang on to kata the Jan taught as it's the only one I've got that I really"know" the meaning for
Final session of the day was just bash madness again a combined session run by Andi Kidd and Steve White. We were split into 3 groups for a ground fighting chaos drill, one group defending from the ground, one group attacking from the mount and one group being put through their paces by Steve to get their blood pumping and hearts racing before they joined the fray (and excellent simulation of what's going to happen to you if it actually does "all kick off"). Groups were circulated at a high pace to keep the "stress" levels up. Basically just end of day play time
Time for showers, tea and a sit down and chill before the evening BBQ in the barn, once again the food was excellent and plentiful (thanks to Rohan, Judy (and Pete)). Everyone was chilled, the company was good and it was a great end to the day.
Nice, sedate start to the Sunday morning sessions as, apart for a few "freshers" who'd just come down for the day, the rest of us were happy to ease ourselves in
First session of the day was a revisit of last years Tekki Shodan (Naihanchi) partner drill. The drill has undergone a few changes since last year (and following some feedback from Jan will probably do so again ), always leads to some good questions and "what ifs" but seemed to be well received. This was followed by Brian Bates' Heian Nidan pad work drills, these start off as fairly straight forward pad drills which get progressively messier to start to simulate applying these techniques in a more stressed and unpredictable situation, some nice "dojo friendly" drills.
We had an impromptu open mike session from Charles Lampshire introducing us to a couple of KU flow drills, interesting to see but very similar to stuff most of us already do (none the worse for that however ) and then a pushing hands drill from Rohan Stevenson.
The next programmed session was a complete bunkai partner flow drill from Chris Marshall for Jitte kata (Wado version but the similarities were sufficient for even us Shotokan people to follow ), even if you weren't familiar with the kata the flow drill was still a good partner drill. We then went through a number of variations of the drill where you could switch and reverse the flow to keep the drill running for as long as required or how to bring it to a logical finish.
We finished off some of Andi's bunkai drills for Heain Sandan, always good fun and can be a simple or as "hardcore" as you (and your partner) are happy to make them, if you want to see some samples of Andi's bunkai approach try typing "Bunkai Bites" into YouTube or better still, subscribe to his newsletter and they'll just turn up it your inbox. These are just snapshots of what Andi does and the man's knowledge and repertoire is extensive, it's not as sanitised or pretty and some "bunkai" you may see on line but in use it is very effective!
All in all it was a top weekend of training and socialising with a great group of people, lots of new stuff learned and older stuff reinforced and at £75 for the entire weekend, including commemorative t-shirt and the BBQ a bit of a bargain (particularly in the light of what people pay for a normal couple of hour seminar). There seems to be a bit of a feeling that the Bunkai Bash is somehow a little on the hardcore side (I suspect the name doesn't help ) and is only for "nutter b*stard" self protection types but that really doesn't reflect the actual activity that takes place. There is a lot of learning from some very intelligent, experienced and thoughtful martial artists. If you look at the pages on Face Book it may also look a little light hearted and "non traditional" due to the lack of constant bowing, Gi's and wooden floors so isn't "what we do", trust me, if you are serious about your martial art and expect it to be functional if need arises then this is the must do event of the year. Don't let the opportunity slide by.
Bob Davis "beware of anyone who has all the answers, it's a sign you are just not asking the right questions"
Sounds really great!! Unfortunately, I don't think we have many of these in India. Do you have any recordings? Would love to see how pad drills work for example... Oss. ______________ More sweat in training, less blood in battle