Bassai Dai is an important kata to Shotokan Karate enthusiasts. It is generally taught to brown belts and black belts, and some groups use it as their examination kata for taking shodan.
Seen in many different lineages of Karate, Bassai is sometimes an enigma. It was groups who insist that the series of turning blocks are there for stopping people who wish to hit you with oi-zuki chudan that prompted John Burke sensei to write the book Fortress Storming about this kata's applications.
The complicated sets of joint locks and escapes are there to make a complete martial arts style in themselves - the Fortress Storming style. Rather than performing defences against roundhouse kicks and combinations that people don't really do, John Burke put together a book to show how the kata works with Pressure Point applications against real types of attack. The author's training with experts from all over the world culminated in him teaching seminars for diverse groups. Foreword contributors to the book include Patrick McCarthy 8th dan hanshi, Anthony Blades 6th dan renshi, and Russell Stutely 6th dan renshi (nowadays 9th Dan and 7th Dan respectively).
The principles contained in this book can be used with virtually any kata, from any style, or any association. It might be rebellious to look outside those oft touted applications that some are "forced" to learn, but wouldn't you rather have the options available to you?
If you are serious about your Karate, and about Bunkai, then can you afford to be without this kind of research?>
While no book or DVD can ever take the place of training, the following guides can act as useful reference material to the discerning student or teacher.
Fortress Storming is a 200 page book featuring background and historical information, a PP primer, and the common rules for self defence situations. Every move is shown to be useful, with no "preparatory positions" necessary.
You can buy the ebook here: or buy it now for £14.95 (approx $22) with no shipping charges if purchased through this site.
The Bassai Dai DVD, featuring an hour of no-frills tuition on the kata applications by John Burke sensei is also available. Taught at a "learning speed", the demonstrations help with the understanding of some of the moves from the kata.
Buy the DVD now for only £19.95 with no shipping charges
The video can be downloaded here for just $24.95:
Oh - we've gone and put together a special offer! Book and DVD deal! Fortress Storming and Kata & Application volume 8 - Bassai Dai, together come in at £34.90. Buy today at £29.95 and get both sent to you together with no shipping charges.
Serious students of the Bassai fighting system may want to get hold of the Bassai Sho material, too.
Back in 2010 we released Kata & Application volume 14 - BASSAI SHO.
This DVD, over an hour in length, features John Burke sensei demonstrating the moves and the applications to this Black Belt kata on Ross Chesterton sensei.
See how the kata, often demonstrated as defences against a bo staff, is actually for close in grappling, joint locks, and escapes from realistic types of attack (rather than the usual "oi-zuki" types of attack or trying to stop someone with a six-foot stick)
The DVD is £19.95
Please remember, there is also a book, Fortress Storming - the minor version which acts as a companion to the DVD. Practical applications in written and photographc form. You can order separately at £14.95 here:
Shotokan's Bassai Dai is so different to Matsumura Passai!
Or is it?
How about if you do Kyokushinkai? Wado Ryu? Or modern styles like GKR? Regardless of style, you should be able to see the similarities in the kata.
So we lean over for the yamazuki and you don't? Don't let it worry you. The application is a possibility rather than a law. If it doesn't fit with what your association says, but it makes sense to you then great, we are reading from the same hymn sheet.
John Burke's Bunkai Resources
Karate Academy, King Street Studios, King Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2LG, United Kingdom