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Jion Bunkai Opening Sequence and Drill

This short video shows bunkai for the opening motions of Jion kata:

1) The “salutation”

2) The simultaneous gedan-barai and soto-uke (aka kosa-uke)

3) The 45-degree kakiwake-uke, mae geri, sandon zuki sequence

Whilst solo kata should always be precise and exact, bunkai practise needs to be scrappy and variable. Precise solo kata helps develop a strong mind/body link. However, real conflict is chaotic and changeable and hence application-practise needs to take that into account. This is what Gichin Funakoshi meant when he said, “Always perform kata exactly. Combat is another matter”. Genwa Nakasone’s explanation of this concept – which Funakoshi endorsed – states, “In combat, we should never be shackled by the rituals of kata, but instead move freely according to our enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Kata provides examples of principle (not dogmatic commands). We need to take those examples into semi-live and live practise so that we can enact those principles in a manner appropriate to the ever-changing circumstances. In this video you can see that the bunkai is not drilled in sterile fashion, but in an “alive” way. It is very important to always practise this way.

Please also note that the 45-degree angle in the kata instructs us to assume that angle to the enemy. It is NOT saying the enemy attacks us from that angle! This was made explicitly clear by Kenwa Mabuni when he wrote the following in 1938 (Karate-Do Nyumon):

“The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that "this kata moves in 8 directions, so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents" or some such nonsense … [The] kata show us that against an attack from the front we can evade either left or right to put ourselves in the most advantageous position to defend ourselves.”

You can see this enacted when I assume an angle to my partner – and in doing so take myself away from the uncontrolled arm and off the line of fire – for the kakiwake-uke, mae geri, sandon zuki sequence. The 45-degre angle is NOT the angle the enemy is attacking me from but is instead the angle I am attacking the enemy from.

All the best,


PS The YouTube link is HERE

Jion Bunkai: Opening Sequence and Drill