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Five Years One Kata Book Review

This book was recommended to me by Sensei Andi Kidd and is without a doubt one of the best kata books I have read and those of you that know me know I read a lot of those! Having now read the book two or three times I feel more able to give a review of it.

The author, Bill Burgar (6th Dan, Shotokan), explains in great detail his five-year study of Gojushiho Sho as well as his own personal karate journey.

The book is foreworded by Patrick McCarthy, Vince Morris and Rick Clark three very experienced and well-known karate instructors in their own right.

The book is well laid out, easy to follow and is split into sections covering;

· Theory

· The Example of Gojushiho

· Your Own Single Kata Study

· Where to from here?

The Theory section outlines many different thought processes to kata, the background and history, habits, different attacks etc. The second section speaks for itself and contains my favourite quote from the book,

If you have been tempted to skip directly to this section merely to find out what the bunkai to Gojushiho are then, although you probably will not be disappointed, you will have missed the point.’

The bunkai contained within the book is very good with many variations of attack and application but, the Theory section really fills in the blanks and allows this section to really make sense, giving you a much fuller picture. Another part I found interesting in this section is the authors own interpretation of Gojushiho which we are told many times - make the kata your own, put your personality into it.

I don’t want to spoil the book by divulging too much of what it contains but, for anyone who truly loves their kata and wants to gain a deeper understanding of them then this is the book you need in your collection. The tools to approach the study of a single kata are at your fingertips!

As Renshi and other CFTS instructors say ‘find two or three kata and make them your lifes work,’ and this book can help you on your way to achieving that regardless of which kata they may be. Following the reading of this book, it has prompted me to look further into kata and application through cross training and studying.

The book can be found on Amazon.

Update: at a seminar last year, which was attended by a small CFTS contingent, Sensei Burgar was one of the instructors. He ran a session on visualisation for solo practice that was thoroughly enjoyable. For me personally, it was one of my bucket list instructors ticked off (getting my copy of this book signed by him showed my inner karate geek!) and I am looking forward to training with Sensei Burgar later on in the year. If any senior grades have an appetite for this level of study of a single kata – there is a book by Kenwa Mabuni Sensei (founder of shitō-ryū) on the kata Seipai that could link nicely with this book by Sensei Burgar.

Reviewed by Sensei D. Young

Updated version Feb 2023.

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