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Frazatto's picture
May I vent a little?

Maaannnn....this one is hitting me much harder than I prepared for.......

Really sorry, I understand this may not be the best of places for such things, I'm just having a hard time dealing with it and have nobody to talk with that would understand why.

My sensei finally "found" the time for me to present the work I was doing with the Gekisai kata and it went bad..........

I tried having small talks many times before as I started to understand Iain's work, it's my experience that people find my reasoning fairly confusing, so it never rubs me the wrong way when someone just stare with no intention in keeping the conversation going. No problem than, let's get all the noise out of the way, lets get prepared, make a strong case, with historical and methodological arguments...maybe if I show the whole picture it will make sense.

I went prepared for a conversation among friends, even made clear I didn't want to put him in a position to agree or disagree with me, dude straight up broke my legs with all the weight of his position and the organization he represents.

Didn't care at all for how I built the interpretation for the kata, constantly interrupting wanting me to declare my intentions with "that". Try to show the first section, "That is not how it's done." and for the next 20min tried to show why all my movements are wrong and not the proper application.

His "best" argument is that I don't understand the formal bunkai because I never piked fights in school as a kid and that nobody in the head office would ever agree with any of it.

I'm making the dude looks like a asshole here, so believe me when I say he don't have the habit of acting as one. It would be sooooo much simpler if this was the case......

I still have so much to learn from this man and I gave up so many times before just to come back to the same place. I don't know what to do now......so fucking tired of working alone all the time............determination can only take you so far before becoming stubbornness.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture


I've had this experience with one of my old Karate teachers. I hadn't seen him in a number of years, he showed up to my dojo and was super critical of a couple things I was doing.

The criticism itself I couldn't take that seriously because what I was doing worked empirically and demonstrably, but it was hard to not take it personally.

I guess the best advice I can give is that teachers have blind spots, we all do. The best approach I think is to try to absorb what they are best at, and keep the blind spots you see in mind, so that you do not repeat them. I mean it is his dojo, you don't have to agree, just color within the lines when there.

Being willing to take the best parts of what you learn from them while continuing to seek through your own experiences is contributing to the health of the arts.

If I recall you are not trying to instruct others yet in Karate, so for now it might be best to just recognize your teacher doesn't get your interest or work in this kind of training, and just focus on learning what he is good at teaching.

In the longer run I will tell you , even my main Karate mentors, people who have taught me for near 20 years, I still differ with on some things. Perhaps even moreso as time goes on.

it's totally natural for these things to happen, though I know it's frustrating as hell at the time.

If bunkai is not his thing, it isn't his thing. There are other aspects of Karate. 

It sounds like you are maybe more interested in functional bunkai training than he is, and may just be on your own pursuing that. 

Frazatto's picture

I'm feeling a little better now, Pink Floyd come to the rescue, "it's just another brick in the wall" (never understood that album until now).

Yes, I'm far away from teaching and getting a little too old to start over, again, somewhere else......

If it was a problem of reason, it wouldn't be hard, but he at the same time believes there is only ONE way of doing bunkai and also that it's a worthless abstract exercise of creativity. I could show him none of the moves makes sense if the attacker and yourself couldn't predict each others next move, yet I'm sure this would only escalate things further.

I'm also very confident that, if I had someone else to train with, I would be a better fighter in class, the kata offers much more insight and strategical approach than standing in front of each other trying to be faster. That may be the most sad part of it all.

Any way....only those who try can fail.... and that is already more than most can say.

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture


I know -exactly- how you feel. When I first began in Goju Ryu our system had a ton of pre arranged bunkai drills of that sort, stand in front of one another and exchange techniques.

These are really attractive to people because in a sense they are Karates answer to Aikido Kata or something, they are aesthetically pleasing, involve a lot of stylized movement, etc. Today it's amazing to me that I saw value in them at one time, but I did. They are fun I think, but I just can't take them seriously.

Frazatto's picture

I knew some one would understand, thanks man  o/