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As I was listening to Penn State’s Baroque Ensemble play Heinrich Biber’s “Battalia a 10” last weekend, it made me think about karate.  Strange?  Perhaps, but let me explain.

The Ensemble focuses on music from the Baroque period and often uses the style of equipment (ex. Bows) common to that period, rather than modern equivalents.  They feel that it’s truer to the sound as it was intended to be heard.  The Director explained that many of the themes and elements within the piece would have been familiar to audiences in the 17th Century and meant to evoke specific events or happenings (ex. Battles, death, resurrection).  While listening, it made me think about how great it is as musician, or even a listener, to have
this form of music available and how it provides a connection to musical history.  Playing this music transports you back over 300 years, and it’s easy to imagine a similar Ensemble in Salzburg creating the same sounds, evoking the same emotions.  

Which led me to Bunkai.  By practicing the traditional kata and associated Bunkai, we retain a connection with our Karate forefathers.  When I practice Seisan or Kusanku, it links me in some small way to Pechin Takahara (1683-1760) or Tode Sakugawa (1733-1815) and the various forms they may have passed down that ended up as foundational elements of Okinawan Karate.  I think it’s pretty cool that what I’m practicing here in the hills of Central PA is linked to what was practiced 300 years ago in China and Okinawa.




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