Inside Bassai Dai is Mr. Wildish’s first martial arts video offering. The video is a realistic and practical analysis (aka bunkai) of the Bassai Dai karate kata — both from a traditional karate perspective and from a kung fu perspective. Charlie Wildish holds a 3rd dan in Shotokan Karate, studies Lotus Nei Gong Tai Chi, and has also flirted with Wing Chun Kung Fu. He maintains a blog called Bunkai Jutsu whose goal it is to apply realistic applications to the forms or kata of traditional martial arts. The video also features Mr. Keith McKay Cormack, a practitioner of Wing Chun and Choy Li Fut Kung Fu.
Bassai Dai is often used as a black belt grading kata and appears in many traditional styles of karate. Legend has it that the kata was developed by the Okinawan master, Soken Matsummura. Both Matsummura’s teacher and Matsummura himself are said to have studied and been influenced by Chinese Kung Fu. Therefore, it is appropriate that the video analysis of this karate kata features both a karate perspective and a kung fu perspective.
I’ll have to admit that this review may be somewhat biased. I retired from Tae Kwon Do which is a Korean martial art that was heavily influenced by Shotokan Karate. Moreover, since having retired from that art I had the opportunity to study kung fu. Therefore it was a real treat to see a traditional karate kata examined from karate and kung fu perspectives.
The video starts with Mr. Wildish giving us a brief narrative history of the kata. This is followed by a live demonstration of Bassai Dai. After this we are treated to the bunkai or analysis of the techniques and applications hidden within this particular kata.
Throughout the analysis Mr. Wildish selects certain techniques within this kata. He first examines them from a traditional Shotokan perspective. Significant to this is the fact that Mr. Wildish acknowledges where tradition holds up, but also honestly admits when he is skeptical of how a certain technique has been traditionally taught. However, instead of just criticizing tradition, he always offers a modern take on how a given technique could be realistically applied.