What range do you tend to initially teach bunkai from? Do you start from close range, or does part of your process involve actually initiating close contact and moving into range first? With this question i'm addressing the stage where it is primarily compliant, simply learning to apply principles, not talking about any dynamic drilling yet...the "learning application" phase of Kata teaching, by Iain's model.
Generally speaking I have people first learn against some kind of distance-closing movement, round punch, straight punch, push or grab. More and more I am wondering whether it is a good default approach to have people step in. I notice that when people step in from a farther range there is a tendency for both parties to be more awkward on the way there, there is an extra artificiality to it. It's not the fashion on the long range oi-zuki or anything, just a step into range, the application itself of course is close range. Some techniques simpy don't lend themselves to beginning at distance at all. Typically I work things at three ranges where the opponent must step in to touch you, where he can touch you without stepping, and where you are already in contact or grappling, all kinds of attacks, no attacks etc. Lately we've also just being practicing them from push hands/kakie, which is what prompted my question.
I used to generally have people start with the "step in" range. There are some advantages to using the step in range, namely that people are learning to work against a non-static opponent form the beginning and having to adjust to someone imposing themselves structurally as they step in, but more and more I feel this is a somewhat awkward constraint and I'm just going to start doing it contextually.
What's your experience with this? Keep in mind, this is not so much about effectiveness of bunkai as it is trying to trim some of the fat of uneccessary stuff in the learning process.