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Four Shades of Black: The Traditional Path to Building the Complete Fighter (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. April 2008

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"'both valuable and long overdue' Geoff Thompson 'All karateka should read... this excellent book. There can be few people more qualified to write a book such as this' Iain Abernethy"


'The secrets of karate are contained in the kata,' said the masters of old. What did they mean? For many years, people have struggled to understand where padwork, grappling, ground-fighting and even high kicks fit into traditional karate.While many people understand the purpose of individual kata, this book demonstrates how the various kata work together to create a logical fight progression from stand-up striking to close-quarter grappling and ground-fighting. "Four Shades of Black" decodes the kata in a radically different way, revealing how the traditional arts set out to develop a complete and rounded fighter. If you think you know karate, think again.

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A unique and interesting tome 23. Juli 2008
Von L. A. Kane - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Four Shades of Black is a feast for the eyes. Stark black pages with brilliant white text and lush monochrome photography worthy of any coffee table "art" volume aren't exactly what you'd expect to find in an ordinary martial arts book, but then again this tome is no commonplace karate book either. It illuminates the traditional path to becoming a complete fighter in a unique and very exciting way.

British Combat Association Hall of Fame member Gavin Mulholland does a fantastic job of showing how karate was developed as a complete and comprehensive fighting system, with kata (formal exercises) as the map and gradings as the compass to develop real-life fighting skills in a logical progression that builds from kata to kata throughout the curriculum. He ties seemingly disparate kihon (fundamental basics), bunkai (fighting applications), conditioning exercises, padwork, and partner drills together to demonstrate a complete package that helps practitioners ingrain the essential teachings of four Goju Ryu karate kata.

Goju Ryu is an Okinawan empty-hand fighting style that blends both hard and soft techniques. The key to learning this system is understanding its kata, four of which are explained in the book: gekisai dai ichi, gekisai dai ni, saifa, and seiyunchin. Gekisai dai ichi roughly translates as "attack and smash number one." It is generally the first form taught to new practitioners, hence utilizes a straightforward blitzing-style approach. Gekisai dai ni is the second kata of this series, showing more refined, non-linear movements and advanced open-hand techniques. While gekisai is a fairly modern kata, saifa is an ancient form that essentially means "smash and tear." Seiyunchin can be translated as "trapping battle," a grappling/close-quarter fighting form.

Each of these four kata is examined thematically, showing the principle, mindset, and applicable area of combat stressed by the form. Fascinating vignettes at the beginning of these sections give readers a real-life image of their utility as well. This approach breathes life into the text, helping readers visualize all the essential elements in a way that makes it easier to turn-around and practice them on the dojo (training hall) floor.

Although some of the examples used to demonstrate the bunkai are not necessarily the optimum applications for use in a street fight, they do serve to highlight the themes and principles of the kata they represent. Since the goal of the book is not so much deciphering fighting applications from kata, but rather demonstrating the holistic fighting system and logical progression of the art, this is easily forgiven.

Mulholland is an extraordinarily skillful practitioner, a guy with more than 30 years of training under his belt who has honed his fighting prowess working the doors of pubs and clubs throughout the United Kingdom. Readers can truly feel this experience in his writing. The book transcends the training hall bringing modern utility to the ancient art of karate. It is a well-written, unique, and interesting tome that should appeal to most any karateka, but especially Goju Ryu practitioners.

Lawrence Kane
Author of Blinded by the Night, among other titles
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
It's All There In Black & White 13. Mai 2010
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
The slow resurgence of Karate as a complete fighting system has taken a momentous leap forward with Gavin Mulholland's superlative work of art, Four Shades of Black. When I say work of art, I mean it as well for the book is beautiful to look at. The large bold black text on the gi-white cover looks stunning; the body of the book goes the other way with white text on a black background which looks even more stunning and the photographs with white gi clad karateka also on a black background are simply superb. This is one martial arts book that would grace the surface of any coffee table.

Mullholland then introduces us to a young man that has suffered at the hands of bullies and wants to learn to defend himself. It is through the eyes of this novice that we take the long, arduous and thoroughly rewarding journey to, what we all believed as beginners was the ultimate goal, gaining the coveted black belt. Studying four Goju Ryu kata, the author explains the progression from long range powerful striking, to mid range striking and escapes and finally to that all too unfamiliar area for most karateka today, the dreaded close range area of grappling. The student is shown pad, partner and traditional conditioning drills and exercises to ensure that each progression is instilled to it's maximum effectiveness befor moving on to the next. So that after five years and four kata a complete fighter and mature man so totally comfortable and aware of his own ability that when the time and opportunity arise tto actually use it, he finds he doesn't need to, emerges at the other end.

Gavin Mulholland has the karate brain and knowledge to identify basic principles of combat and kata that almost puts him into the mind of the great masters that devised them so that he can digest every morsel of information contained within. Along with Iain Abernethy, he has blown the concept of what most karateka believe is "traditional" karate out of the water. The majority of you are being taught the new tradition of karate as a great exercise regime and sport which in itself is fine. However, you will reach the stage, as I did, when you begin to question the validity of your art in the real world so why not learn the old tradition of karate as a complete and brutal self-protection system as well.

Four Shades of Black is an absolute must for all Karateka and if I hadn't discovered Iain Abernethy's work first it would have been a complete revelation to me and had 5 stars.
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An Amazing Piece 26. Januar 2012
Von M. Cook - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I've been studying Goju Ryu for the past 9 years and read this book recently as a 2nd Dan. I was thrilled with my purchase! At first appearance, this book is a beautiful piece of art, filled with stunning pictures of martial artists, throughout. The black pages with white text, provide an elegant and rich look perfect for a coffee table, as others have said here. However, not only was this book a great on the eyes, the information that Gavin Mulholland has packed into this book is astounding! He talks about the importance of kata in the traditional martial arts and reviews various concepts such as striking, blocking, and stances, setting the scene for an in-depth analysis of the 4 primary beginner katas in traditional Goju Ryu schools: Gekisai dai ichi, Gekisai dai ni, Seifa, and Seiyunchin. The importance of the katas' names and origins were stressed as a key factor in determining their applications and overriding principles. Detail was also given to the training exercises that would accompany each katas' lesson, providing a great understanding of how to fully utilize the applications once you uncover them. Because the kata analysis was not focused on specific techniques, but discovering the principles behind them, the same process of dissecting each kata can be repeated for various other kata, making this a worthwhile read to all styles. I would highly recommend this book to any and all martial arts practioners wanting to further their understanding of kata, especially anyone who has studied the beginning Goju Ryu katas. A basic understanding of the katas is required as the author does not aim to teach the kata here, only to further your understanding.
Beautiful, violent 29. April 2008
Von Goran Powell - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Four Shades of Black looks like a sumptuous coffee-table book, but the writing packs a real punch and delivers arguments that no traditional martial artist can ignore. The author is certainly well placed to make these arguments - as well as being Chief Instructor of one of the UK's strongest karate clubs, he's an experienced doormen and his students have competed successful in the Octagon (Cage Rage).

Gavin Mulholland certainly knows how to make karate work. What he's done brilliantly in this book is show how and why. Four Shades of Black is engaging, reading like a novel in parts, an instructional book in others, it's amusing, unpretentious and profound. Gavin is honest about where karate may have gone wrong in the past, but ultimately, extremely positive. The book shows clearly how to bring traditional methods to life with realistic training that's still based on the principles and spirit of the kata.

At this point I must admit my bias - Gavin Mulholland is my instructor and I even feature in the book. All I can say is: don't take my word for it, get a copy and decide for yourself. If you're a traditional martial artist, it will be a wonderful addition to your library. The beauty and violence of the martial arts is captured perfectly in the writing, design and photography of Four Shades of Black.

Goran Powell, author of A Sudden Dawn
Great Presentation, Great Information 9. März 2012
Von Scott Masterton - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
With the popularity of UFC around the world it's easy to think that martial arts are at their pinnacle. It's also popular among armchair quarterbacks and young martial artists to dismiss the training methods of the past. Warriors of the past trained for life and death and the option of tapping out or throwing in the towel were nonexistent. There must have been a reason that early fighters trained the way they did, and this book clearly outlines it.

Gavin Mulholland unveils the mystery of kata and it's value to warriors both old and new. Mulholland explains that the kata are guides to what needs to be studied and practiced, bringing a whole new meaning to "the secret is contained in the kata". Each kata is broken down and the essence of the lesson passed on along with what the student should be practicing at each level.

The photography and layout is gorgeous and the training methods including sparring, hojo undo (supplimental training) are basic and effective. This is an enlightening read from anyone interested in the traditional method of developing a fighter.
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