4 posts / 0 new
Last post
tubbydrawers
tubbydrawers's picture
Complicated Bunkai

Hello all,

I have been looking at the application of katas for a bit now, and also have got various dvd's on the subject too. My problem is that sometimes I see very complicated bunka for a part of a kata that just seems a bit unrealistic for my tastes.

When I am with people of my own grade, ie 1st dan, they seem to want to come up with ideas that only one person is attacking them and use about 6-10 moves of that kata to defeat them.

I have got a copy of 'way of kata' by wilder etc. and after watching some of Iain's dvd's I am tending to think of my bunkai being against one person but only using 1 or 2 maybe 3 at the most to defeat the enemy.

Is my bunkai being too simple, I refer to the KISS method!!!  or will my understanding of bunkai grow bigger in the years to come and then I will think of more outlandish applications . I mean their bunkai does work but I always thought of the application is being,

a. to take the fight to the enemy, once the fight has become a situation where you cant get away.

b. to hurt them enough to get away. not do 10 techniques then get away.

c. that every part of the kata does something to the other person, so that they might not come back to get me. i have seen people do some applications which include a leg throw from the end of bassai dai but then it doesnt stop the enemy from coming back.

I dont know really. I think what I am after is that, do other people who are starting this journey, think the same way that their bunkai is very simple or have they been able to think of complicated moves first off. Do you finish off the person with a  couple of techniques or do you carry the bunkai applications for half way through a kata on the same person

Hope you can understand this well. If not i will try and explain later!!!  My dinner si ready says the wife.!!!

Regards

Craig

Jr cook
Jr cook's picture

tubbydrawers wrote:
 My problem is that sometimes I see very complicated bunka for a part of a kata that just seems a bit unrealistic for my tastes.

It is easy to get overly creative when looking at bunkai, especially for some of the more odd looking movements! To my thinking, basing the applications on solid, principles and realistic situations  are two of the top priorities when looking at kata. Often I have found that my more 'creative' applications were not very functional when drilled with any level of stress or resistance from my partner.

Quote:
When I am with people of my own grade, ie 1st dan, they seem to want to come up with ideas that only one person is attacking them and use about 6-10 moves of that kata to defeat them.

Again, it's easily done, especially if you are being creative. Keep your sights set on WHY you are doing whatever it is you are doing, not just on what it looks like.  For example, did I need to hit him three times just to spin him around and set him up for a throw? If so, what will the likely reaction be when I try this for real? Does this still leave me in a dominant position? 

Often I have found that there can be important things happening between the obvious techniques that kind of do the work for me. The kata are amazingly simple and subtle sometimes. With a little resistance on the part of your training partners some of these things become more clear as long as you don't overlook them. Things like chambering the hands, turning your body and shifting your weight can be the pieces that make or break an application. I'm not saying that it's right or wrong to use 6 or more moves for an application, just be aware of what you can make work and when it's time to hit them and leave.

I would also point out that the count of performing kata may not be the same as the count in the application. I sometimes get pulled into thinking that movements 1-3 are seperate from movements 4-6 just because that's how I learned them, The case may well be that I only needed movements 1-and-chamber-and-2 for a particular application. Of course there are numerous bunkai for each part of kata as well, just to complicate things a bit!

Quote:
  or will my understanding of bunkai grow bigger in the years to come and then I will think of more outlandish applications . I mean their bunkai does work but I always thought of the application is being,

a. to take the fight to the enemy, once the fight has become a situation where you cant get away.

b. to hurt them enough to get away. not do 10 techniques then get away.

c. that every part of the kata does something to the other person, so that they might not come back to get me. i have seen people do some applications which include a leg throw from the end of bassai dai but then it doesnt stop the enemy from coming back.

I think there is a sharp learning curve to the study of kata. It looks simple at first, especially when following the work of sources like Wilder, Kane, and Abernethy. My understanding has grown a great deal and I look forward to continuing this trend. I'm sure that you will feel more confident as you spend more time developing this part of you kata. If you have a group that is similarly minded it will progress even faster. Two heads are better than one.

It looks as though you are on the right track. When I first started to understand kata application (still working on it years later!) I shared some of the same concerns. Looking at item C; I would have to say that sometimes the kata seems to serve only to get you from a bad spot, to a better spot. I think it is assumed that you will know when it's time to leave just as you will know that it's OK to now finish the opponent off with a good stomp or punch on the way out. This is just my opinion but when I practice bunkai I try to never leave a semi-dangerous opponent in a situation where they can chase me easily, no matter what the kata does. I frequently use a throw and immediately follow it with the most likely impact technique on the way out of the area. This may not be seen in the kata, or at least not at that point in the kata. However, often they can be seen in other kata. In this situation, usually I don't need a kata to tell me "to hit him in the face".

Again, the more you practice applying kata, the better you will understand it. I would say that it is a good idea to start simple. There are things that need to be worked out before you just go off hunting applications. Ideas like Iain's recent explanation of angles and footwork are essential to more advanced understanding. Not to mention it will make it easier to read the kata.

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

 

lol.  I really like this. I was thinking along the same lines at one time or another as well. When I started looking into what bunkai was early on in my training, it was more of 'see if you can make a movie fight scene with these moves' rather than 'let's investigate what's here and how it works’. So the applications that we were coming up with were using multiple people, or single attackers and as many moves in a row as you can manage. It made for exciting looking fluff. 

I'm glad to have progressed. What helped along the way was looking at the teaching methods as well as the Kata in itself. I believe in the Kihon - Kata - Kumite system. I find that it works well, as long as you investigate what you are doing with it. It made sense to me as when I asked someone what does "Kumite" mean- they said "Sparring". Ok, so what is Kihon? Fundamentals. Good, now what it Kata? A Pattern of movements. So to me then, Fundamental - Movement - Sparring, was the way to learn all the techniques. Take a motion or technique, learn the fundamentals of it (why it works the way it does leverage and position, and how to do it physically). Take that technique and use it in combination to learn how it works and what its use is, then take it into Sparring and pressure test it to find out for yourself how you are going to be able to implement it in the context of how you fight. 

Using this basis for analysis, it then became clear to me that all the Kata are created of individual techniques put together in small movement chains to be used in sparring. Much like learning a jab and then a cross and then putting together your boxing 1-2 punch combo. So I started looking for where the natural breaks are in the Kata. Which sequence is made up from individual techniques, and which ones are combination chains. Which ones are the same combination chains giving examples from the inside position vs. the outside position. The final piece of the puzzle came to me once I had started training with a lot more grappling and clinch range techniques. I had begun to use karate from the wrong range, it was always from distance punching, kicking, sweeping, blocking style stuff (probably due the tournament training we were doing at the time). Once I closed the distance and accepted more of a Judo range to practice with, all the grips and grabs and things naturally presented themselves throughout the Katas. To deal with this kind of grabbing control, you need to be able to control your opponent by position and grip, and then kick off with all the other fun stuff from the Kata.

So when I look at the Katas (Particularly the Heain series) I see a base position to go to, then a variety of options to follow. So a sequence from the Kata could actually be telling us: go to here, and then follow with this, or this, or this. And not necessarily: go with combo #1, and then use these 3 moves in a row afterwards. The options that you will choose to use will depend on how you fight in sparring. The techniques that finish off an opponent will also depend on the situation at the time. I don't see any one move in Kata as the 'finishing' move. Have fun in your study and share any thoughts you have with others. I think through your own process you will develop an eye for bunkai and help grow this wonderful art that is Karate. 

GeoffG
GeoffG's picture

I'm very interested to read the opinions of people who have actually had to apply bunkai in a self protection situation. I have never had the need to do so, which means that my views are purely theoretical despite being based on the writings of those that have. I would have thought that the fewer techniques used to end the confrontation, the better. In my day job in IT, I regularly have to consider the risks associated with the integration of various systems as these are potential points of failure. Some of that thinking crosses over into the way that I view bunkai. So if we assume that every technique you use is a potential point of failure, then the more techniques in an application the more likely it is to fail or the opponent is able to counter attack. In my experience in IT, complex integrations tend to be prone to failure, and I would assume that the same applies to lengthy bunkai. So I think simple is better. It might just be me, but everytime I read that an application has a lot of techniques I immediately imagine that the bunkai is relying on the opponent to react in a certain way. If the bunkai is relying on a behaviour other than the body's automatic response to hyper-extended joints for example, then perhaps the bunkai itself is ineffective - against that person at least. I'm not sure that more techniques would help in this instance either.