The problem is the word “expert”…

Recently a post was made in a forum on Facebook by a young, definitely experienced, black belt about a video coming out with him and the self proclaimed “Karate Nerd” Jesse Enkamp. This young man, and I will quote him, stated the following in his post sharing his soon to be released Bunkai Expert video:

“I’m talking about the research of the Muidokan Karate Kenkyukai, a small organization, of which I’m a proud member/student, dedicated to the understanding and teaching of the old school karate the old masters envisioned. A complete system has been devised/rediscovered, the whole of which has been through the relentless scrutiny of pressure testing against resisting opponents, amateurs, Muidokan students, karate practitioners from other styles and practitioners from other martial arts. Not only that, the whole method is consistent with historical evidence from the old masters.

I can say with confidence that this research resulted in the best bunkai I have ever seen, and I’ve seen all the big names out there.”

The link to final video posted by Jesse Enkamp is here: https://youtu.be/Yw-WNtZlps8 and it is entitled “The best Naihanchi / Tekki Shodan Kata Bunkai Flow Drill”.

The video is good, the skills are decent and that isn’t the problem that caused the ruckus in the Facebook group. It was claims of the individual and his unwillingness to share his biography and training background that created the stir. Some of the claims made always lead to getting ridiculed and he quite often blames his poor English as the reason behind his obscurity but I honestly do not believe that is the full case. Let’s examine some of his claims, along with my observation after watching the video at least 20 times today…

  1. He claims he has a secret Bunkai method. What he did in the video was anything but secret and many people, including myself, have been through the same type of Bunkai in their years of training.
  2. He claims that his group researches and seeks out the “old school karate”. Once again, upon watching his video, what he did has been done before and it isn’t a secret nor technically what I would call old school. I am sure he is referring to the grappling aspect shown in his Bunkai since many people began talking about grappling in Karate after the popularity of the UFC but I can remember doing a flow drill for Naihanchi Shodan at an Oyata Sensei seminar that was almost complete grappling and Tuite…some of the same things I saw in his video.
  3. He stated, and I will quote again, “A complete system has been devised / rediscovered”. People often make this claim as part of their marketing material because, well let’s face it, the general public loves ancient, mystery type things which is often their draw to the martial arts in the first place. Based on the video evidence there is nothing rediscovered that I have not seen for at least 20 or so years in my 40 years of training. I also watched a couple of other videos he has online and, while being neat to watch, isn’t anything rediscovered either. What I believe happened is that he is very young in age and his training hasn’t given him the experience to understand that “there is nothing new, just new ways of doing what we have already done”.
  4. And then there is this quote “I can say with confidence that this research resulted in the best bunkai I have ever seen, and I’ve seen all the big names out there.” That is definitely an absurd thing to say because he has “seen” all the big names out there but the real question, which he persistently avoided answering, is has he ever trained with them? I have been watching Bunkai videos online for at least 10 years now and been doing seminars for over 22 years on Bunkai. I have seen some great things and some stuff that looked like it came from a movie script. This example he shows is not the best Bunkai ever seen by anyone…it is just another person showing Bunkai…and it consisted of things already seen online and in other venues.

While the young man, Samir, did a very good job at his Bunkai and you could tell he practiced it over and over again, he brought on the criticism his own self through making some pretty tough claims. He also refuses to define any level of training, and with whom, that would qualify him as an expert in “Old School Karate”. To be honest with you there aren’t many of the old school people left that even knew what Karate was before it became modified for main stream group training by Itosu Sensei.

Where I will give Samir Kudos is that he did a great job presenting his Bunkai, has very good technical ability and definitely has understanding beyond low rank level in Naihanchi Kata…but he didn’t create, rediscover or do anything new. If you have been training as long as I have, or many others, you have to be careful what you claim because most of us have seen a lot. It is clear that Samir wants to famous. He is doing what a lot of controversial martial arts have done and attaching words like “expert”, “secret” and other things to what he is doing but, along with doing so, you open your world to be criticized. A prime example is George Dillman, the so called founder of RyuKyu Kempo and the “No touch knockout” crap floating around cyberspace. Dillman, while at one time being very adept at Karate, has made many outlandish claims which have led to his own ridicule…and he always has an excuse when his “stuff” doesn’t work.

Hey, I am all for people showcasing and sharing their Bunkai but leave the “secret” and “old masters” type of marketing crap out of it. I can do at least 25 different types Bunkai things in Naihanchi Shodan…from evading to striking, grappling to throwing and more. Anyone who spends time in the dojo will build different Bunkai methods in a single Kata…it is part of our training. That being said I never go around claiming anything as “secret” or “unique” nor would I ever say it is new because, with over 100 Million people training Karate today, I am sure somewhere, right now, in this world someone is doing the same thing I am doing. I also have no interest in being famous. Samir even asked me to video my methods and post them. I honestly don’t care what others think and don’t need to be recognized for anything I do. The only people that are important to me in my Karate are my own Sensei, my Senpai and my students. If I am doing something wrong I am sure they will all call me out on it and I will fix it :).

Enjoy training everyone, leave the marketing hub bub out of your claims and just share what you know for what it is. Let go of the ego. As we say in my dojo…”Shut up and train”.

Steven Franz, Rokudan
Shorin Ryu Shorinkan

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