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Thread: Kata Bunkai

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    Default Kata Bunkai

    I am interested in which styles/schools teach bunkai with their kata. I would love to hear comments on the following questions:

    - Does your style/school teach/require bunkai?
    - If so, is there a one to one relationship between kata movement and bunkai or a one to many relationship?
    - How much variation do you allow from the kata movement?
    - Are students/instructors allowed to devlop alternate bunkai?

    I look forward to your replies.
    Rick Sbuscio

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    Default Hello

    Hello

    I'm sure you are more interested in larger schools than my humble Dojo but I thought I may offer an answer.

    For each basic technique (Oi Tzuki, Gedan Barai etc) I teach the basic bunkai/oyo (ie punch, lower parry) and then teach a less obvious application for example a turning Gedan Barai works very nicely as what is known in Judo as a Tai Otoshi (with a few slight tweaks)....

    So then with the Kata my syllabus (up to about green belt) picks out a few sequences such as "from spearhand to lunge punch" in each Kata and prescribes a set application. So in the example I have given the defence is against a wrist grab, turning in, trapping the arm and finishing in a sort of reverse headlock position which looks a bit like a standing Kesa Gatame (it works better than it sounds).

    So then when students have the idea that just because something looks like a block it could actually be, say a throw, I invite students to submit their own applications.

    (Oh and we do the kata with Okinawan weapons as well but that's a whole 'nother can of worms)

    When the student reaches a more senior level they each specialise in an advanced kata.

    As for the attacks that the defences are against, I use the 36 Habitual Acts of Physical Violence (I shamelessly plagiarised this from Hanshi Patrick McCarthy) and for the defences it's a combination of applications I've been taught, applications I've seen in old books etc and applications I have invented with my very own brain.

    The principle I apply to any technique is:

    1) Learn about the nature of violent situations
    2) Learn correct technique
    3) Test the technique
    4) Drill the technique

    My school is called Bushinkai, my system is called Toshu-Jutsu. The kata are from Shotokan and Goju Ryu with a few slight modifications.

    Hope that's helpful, if not, at least I haven't wasted real ink...
    Best wishes
    Simon Keegan 4th Dan
    www.bushinkai.org.uk

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    Default Bunkai

    We start everyone out with; if it looks like a puch, it's a punch, if it looks like a block, it's a block, if it looks like a kick, it's a kick. To wet their whistle and keep them interested I throw a few bunkai in there.

    Intermediate level we work on basic bunkai. Taking simple attacks and how a kata sequence could be applied.

    Advanced level we start to look at specific pressure point combinations and the like.

    The movement can be quite varied, as a punch may be a grab, a kick may be a trip, and numerous other possibilities.

    The big thing I teach is for the students to develop their own realistic variations and we look at them for plausibility. I always emphasize that this may not be what the kata's creator had in mind. I could be right, I could be wrong. George Dillman could be right. He could be wrong. We have to find our own path and what works for us.
    With respect,

    Mitch Saret

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBadger
    I am interested in which styles/schools teach bunkai with their kata. I would love to hear comments on the following questions:

    - Does your style/school teach/require bunkai?
    - If so, is there a one to one relationship between kata movement and bunkai or a one to many relationship?
    - How much variation do you allow from the kata movement?
    - Are students/instructors allowed to devlop alternate bunkai?

    I look forward to your replies.
    I was taught a few formal bunkai-oyo drills, and lot of applications, and some principles to find applications.

    At least in the Goju i've learned bunkai with a "live" partner is an important part of training. I recently started teaching, and i'm trying to keep it that way. Problem is some people are really, really good at pulling stuff out and making it work, and some of us are still learning.

    the premade bunkai-oyo drills that i've learned have a one to one relationship with the kata, however they are (for the most part) very simplistic (not that that's bad necessarily) when compared to the more free form applications.

    As far as variation, I feel that as long as you have a good working knowledge of what it's supposed to accomplish and how it works, some individual variation is ok. As an example, i've seen a few different variations on how to do the "Sanchin turn", and a number of different applications to go along with it. As long as your posture remains correct during the turn both seem to work.

    My teacher always allowed people to develop their own interpretations, but he "helped" us with them, and eventually we would have to make them work to some degree, at which point it became obvious whether or not they were viable. Only so many ways to make an omelet anyway, right?

    My feeling is that to explore bunkai properly you really need a good uke who will honor your technique, but also make you work for it. Of course this is only if you've already been shown some bunkai-oyo yourself and are comfortable exploring it.

    While I think people should learn bunkai-oyo from the start, I also believe a solid foundation in the proper mechanics of the kata is the only way they will get anything out of such training.
    Last edited by ZachZinn; 6th July 2007 at 09:41.
    Zachariah Zinn

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    I have seen advanced students performing some katas with its bunkai, usually one student performs kata , and two or three more students in each side responding the attack, and should be done with "kime", speed and power, and in general are advanced katas, here i have a sample of what im talking about,video recorded at class last summer, in matsubayashi style:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ2YBEI



    And as Simon Keegan said, we do same thing, we learn the obvious answer to the attack or defense but also we learn several variations for same thing, when we are learning a new kata, is very normal to learn its respective bunkai, but that sometimes change within the teacher or the sempai who's helping us to learn that new kata.
    Noelia Romero

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    Sadly, speaking as a dinosaur, I have to say that once kata is altered to incorporate personal preferences or different teaching influences,then it is no longer the same kata vis-a-vis that which was originally taught.

    Sorry for the slight thread drift but its an old hobbyhorse of mine although I am not saying it is an unnatural development. I recognise evolution happens, Chinese whispers whatever you like to call it or describe it and so in the same way does bunkai change and evolve because thats what happens as people pass things on through the generations, or change things because they want to develop their own style.

    This has the unfortunate effect of people complaining that others can't possibly be doing a technique the right way because they themselves have been taught it the true way. Ho hum.

    Anyway, to the point of your original question....Yes, I teach bunkai, Yes, I try to teach it as I was taught. No, I dont allow variation, nor do I allow students or instructors to vary.

    I thought Simon's points very good although I am afraid I havent read McCarthy's book, and on that basis I would only agree with his points 2-4. For me, point 1 should always be to assess your opponent at that moment in time, to assess your own position, to assess the likelihood of attack and where it might come from ie punch or kick, from left or right limb, or even a disguised attack as has been suggested ie a grab not a punch. Once you have evaluated this then you can make the correct application to defend against the attack as you perceive it happening.

    Clearly, the more advanced you are the more applications you have in your gunny bag so that you are not taken by surprise.

    Osu
    Trevor
    Trevor Gilbert
    ("If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying "Here goes number seventy-one" - Richard M. DeVos)

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    Quote Originally Posted by trevorg
    Anyway, to the point of your original question....Yes, I teach bunkai, Yes, I try to teach it as I was taught. No, I dont allow variation, nor do I allow students or instructors to vary.
    So for you, bunkai is unvarying. Do you allow varying oyo?
    Trevor Johnson

    Low kicks and low puns a specialty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trevorg

    Anyway, to the point of your original question....Yes, I teach bunkai, Yes, I try to teach it as I was taught. No, I dont allow variation, nor do I allow students or instructors to vary.


    Osu
    Trevor
    Does that mean just one interpretation per "move" in your bunkai, or do you have multiple interpretations and you just don't allow anything outside of those?
    Zachariah Zinn

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    maybe i wasn't so specific with my answer, at my school the way of teaching its very traditional indeed, bunkai its only practiced for advanced students, and only in special ocassions and with detail, while the not so advanced students ( as me) have to learn kata and its respective application, wich can change and has many diferents alternatives, that aplication i couldnt say it is bunkai, but its very usefull when we want to understand the interpretation of kata.
    Noelia Romero

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    In answer to Zach and Trevor above I feel I should have said that I try as hard as possible not to allow variation simply because stuff gets bastardized along the way, but as I also said I recognise evolution and also, more importantly for me, the need to assess an opponent's attack as it is happening and to change the counter as is appropriate.

    I think John Hackett of Authentic Australian Shotokan
    http://karatethejapaneseway.com/kata/chinte.pdf sets it out quite well.

    Osu
    Trevor
    Trevor Gilbert
    ("If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying "Here goes number seventy-one" - Richard M. DeVos)

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    Quote Originally Posted by trevorg
    In answer to Zach and Trevor above I feel I should have said that I try as hard as possible not to allow variation simply because stuff gets bastardized along the way, but as I also said I recognise evolution and also, more importantly for me, the need to assess an opponent's attack as it is happening and to change the counter as is appropriate.

    I think John Hackett of Authentic Australian Shotokan
    http://karatethejapaneseway.com/kata/chinte.pdf sets it out quite well.

    Osu
    Trevor
    Ive been told by some people that they consider bunkai to be a drill that keeps the form of the kata the same. It leads to some things I dont necessarily agree in terms of applicability, such as blocking a person multiple times and then turning your back on him, unrealistic distancing of techniques, etc, but as long as it is made clear that this has nothing to do with any kind of martial application, ok. People are welcome to try their own personal interpretation of the kata, and call that oyo. The people I train with, on the other hand, call it all bunkai, since they term it as analysis of the kata. I personally figure if you can make the same move serve multiple purposes, its more useful to you.

    Im sure there are other interpretations of bunkai, and I was wondering which you used.


    Sorry about my punctuation, btw. This computer is acting funny.
    Trevor Johnson

    Low kicks and low puns a specialty.

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    As I understand it Bunkai is the actual application of the techniques practised in the kata and Oyo are applications that also come from the kata but are not necessarily duplicated exactly as they are within the embusen of the kata, embusen referring to the line along which the kata is performed of course.

    I agree there has to be a clear understanding of the applications of a kata because otherwise it is just a load of movements. I have to say that I havent discovered each by a long chalk and the two I think are intertwined.

    All I do is teach the application I was taught. If I wasnt taught it, which unfortunately was often the case, then I have to draw on my experience and deal with it au naturel so as to speak.

    osu
    Trevor
    Trevor Gilbert
    ("If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying "Here goes number seventy-one" - Richard M. DeVos)

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    Default

    I believe I got this from this forum.


    分解する Bunkai suru (verb) to break down; to disect; to take apart.
    応用する Oyo suru (verb) to apply; to put to practical use.

    分解 Bunkai
    Analysis; dissection or to take apart.

    応用 Oyo
    Application

    Okuden waza: Hidden/secret techniques

    Omote: Obvious - Omote waza, the obvious techniques that keep the
    shape of the kata.

    Ura: Hidden - Ura waza, hidden techniques.
    Techniques that are not so obvious. Form and embusen can change from
    the kata.

    I do not speak Japanese so if anyone knows that this is incorrect,
    please let me know.

    Peace.
    Ray Baldonade
    Chibana-ha Shorin-ryu

    "Love many, trust few and do wrong to none". Chan Yau-man

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    Default Original Kata

    Quote Originally Posted by trevorg
    Sadly, speaking as a dinosaur, I have to say that once kata is altered to incorporate personal preferences or different teaching influences,then it is no longer the same kata vis-a-vis that which was originally taught.
    Trevor, I guess my only comment is that, let be honest, no matter how "traditional" any style is, none of us doing the kata as they were originally taught. Or at very least, we cannot be sure that our "version" of the kata is the original version. Add to this, that there are many references to the "old masters" modifying kata to fit a student, leads me to believe that there may not be an correct version.

    I would rather slightly modify the kata to make the bunkai more realistic and effective than to continue to perform a contrived bunkai.
    Rick Sbuscio

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    I think was interesting Nyuck3X's comment i don't speak japanese at all but i had told bunkai means "analysis of movements" (usually of kata), this i got it from some search on the web and from Shoshin Nagamine's book i think I'd never talked the meaning of this word with any teacher or sempai, all I know is what my sempais do when sensei says "Now Bunkai!", but if it says that is the "analysis of movements" and "usually in kata" maybe i could think bunkai is not exclusivity for kata only, do am i correct?
    Noelia Romero

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