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Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

As my post has been commented on I need to add that it is only a few schools that DO NOT apply Kata Bunkai to their training. Other Wado Ryu Schools Do, Fukazawa Sensei is one of those Pioneers

"Hiroji FUKAZAWA - 8th Dan He began his career in the martial arts with Kendo, followed by Judo before finally settling on Karate at the age of 14. He spent 18 months at the Dojo in Inoue before joining the Dojo in Yoseikan with Minoru MOCHIZUKI. He remained there several years, practising not only Karate but also, Aïki Jutsu, Aïkido and Katory Chinto-Ryu. In 1974, Hiroji FUKAZAWA was sent to France by Minoru MOCHIZUKI to help his son, Hiroo. He then moved to the north of Italy for two years where he established the Wado-Ryu style. As well as teaching, he is also active in the French karate federation, holding several positions (Federal expert, Official of the examination committee...)."

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s?ie=UTF8&search-alias=dvd&ref=dp_dvd_bl_act&field-keywords=Hiroji%20Fukazawa

And Suzuki O Sensei

Although quite basic in application, it still opens the gateways to look at some serious Bunkai of the forms

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Yes, there is Shu - Embracing the Kata is what we are talking about isn't it?

As far as where we start to apply the STUFF against oponents and how - you have to take into account Wado's paired Kata, Ohyo Kumite and Jiyu Kumite for that.

Black Tiger,

This thread started off life on another board and your links were already identified and discussed there.

Re Bunkai / Kaisetsu - this link was also posted on the other board (by me):

It says what I am trying to say - only probably a lot better:

http://www.ishikawa-karate.com/kata/kaisetsu.htm

Regards

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary,

Thank you for giving me the link I look forward to reading the posts etc.

osu

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Intersting article, I enjoyed it very much and it makes things a bit clearer. Nonetheless what is in the article  is not different from what "bunkai" is, at least not for everyone.

I've been lucky enough to get a bit of training with some very stellar 'old school' practitioners of Okinawan Karate, and this is in fact exactly how they seemed  to teach "bunkai", -as a set of applicable physical principles, not a a series of techniques or dissections. I think the claim that anyone doing "bunkai" is doing something different from this leads into a bit of semantics on both sides. I don't think what is described there is something other than bunkai, rather it seems that the author has a concept of bunkai that is uneccessisarily restrictive, maybe even negative .....i.e. that "bunkai" must involve some sort of dry "inorganic" intellectual dissection or analysis..personally this hasn't been my experience at all.

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Glad you enjoyed it Zach Zinn.

Certainly semantics do come in to play here and I guess all roads lead to Rome at the end of the day.

The power house in Wado (at my stage of learning anyway) is our paired kata "Kihon Gumite". To me, that is the application of Wado kata - or at least the next step anyway.

Gary

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Out of interest Zach Zinn - who were the "very stellar" Okinawan Karate-ka you trained with?

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

GaryWado wrote:

Out of interest Zach Zinn - who were the "very stellar" Okinawan Karate-ka you trained with?

Gary

I have had a bit of time with Hirro Itto via Kris Wilder (I train with Kris every chance I get - he really has the goods!), Itto was student of Hisataka (if i'm remembering names right..no guarantee I am bad with that stuff) and a couple seminars with an Okinawan Kenpo guy named  Yamashiro, both were really phenomenal, and gave me an appreciation for  Karate I did not have before..which is really saying something, since I was already pretty into it!

Kris has some interviews with Itto sensei here on his youtube page:

In fact, there's a bunch of cool stuff there...

For that matter though, i've also gotten to do a bit of Iain's stuff at Crossing The Pond years ago, and am fan of his material as well. I have to say, I do not feel his bunkai was something different from "principles of movement" or anything, the stuff he does seems to be about principles and applying them. That's where I find the "no bunkai" thing confusing, as any use of applying kata to my mind is some kind of attempt at bunkai -whatever we choose to call it.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Gary,

I really appreciate you taking the time to explain were you are coming from and I think your contribution to this thread has been invaluable. Time is a very precious thing and I am very grateful for the time you have spent explaining things in this thread.

In this post I’m going to try to bring out a few of the questions and concerns I have; and hopefully also encapsulate some of the questions asked by others. I’m doing this in the interests of adding some thoughts from my perspective to this thread. If you want to answer any, clarify or correct me on anything that would be great. Please don’t feel obliged to though as there is plenty here for people to ponder over and I don’t want to be too great a drain on your time.

Thanks also for posting the link to the article (http://www.ishikawa-karate.com/kata/kaisetsu.htm). I think that’s useful in making the approach you are describing as clear as possible to people.

There do seem to be, from my perspective, some logical flaws in the approach though. It could be useful to bring these out further so that the thinking behind the approach – whether accepted or rejected by others – is understood.

ishikawa-karate.com wrote:
Wado kata doesn’t have bunkai. Bunkai is - a far as we know - a tool to disassemble kata in order to analyze its movements. This would be a breakdown of the kata, like buying a new bicycle and then taking out all parts. ‘We’ in Wado would rather learn how to ride the bike.

The flaw that I see here is the assumption that the kata is designed to be used as a single entity i.e. it is one indivisible thing as opposed to a collection of related things. A more accurate analogy is that kata is a collection of carpenter’s tools. All the tools are kept together and are designed to be used as a set in order to achieve a given objective, but they are used as required. The individual tools also have a workable function independent of the others; but would be incomplete on their own i.e. a plane can smooth wood with out relying on the other tools, but alone it does not provide everything the carpenter needs.

The parts of a bike, however, as the analogy suggests, become useless when removed from the whole. Remove a saw from the carpenter’s tool bag and it will cut wood. Remove the peddles from the bike and they are useless (and so is the bike).

The bike analogy does not hold up it seems to me. All the examples given by you and the article look at discrete movements; not the totality of the kata i.e. “The first movement of Pinan nidan is also an easy example.” So it would seem to me that those who adopt this approach are still “disassembling the kata in order to analyze its movements” (i.e. looking at things sequence by sequence), it’s just that they are analysing them from the perspective of movement as opposed to direct combative function.

I can’t see how there is this “riding of the bike” or how the analogy of kata being like a bike in the first place can be logically justified?

ishikawa-karate.com wrote:
In short, kata is to teach how to fight.

While I personally, from a bunkai perspective would fully agree with this, I find this statement to be at odds with what as been said in the rest of the article from the perspective being discussed. In the article and your posts I would suggest that kata is not being viewed as teaching a practitioner how to fight, but instead teaching movement divorced from direct function which are then said to be put into a combative context by other means i.e. kihon kumite.

The bunkai based approach for which the kata were originally created sees the kata teaching the practitioner how to fight. I would suggest that the “kaisetsu approach” instead claims to have kata teaching a practitioner to move? The movements are not seen as being directly applicable in a true fighting context. Other methods put those movements into context.

Would this be a more accurate encapsulation than the one in the article: “In short, kata teaches us how to move efficiently and those lessons are then put into a combative context by other training methods”?

The claim that kata teaches one to fight would not seem to be accurate from the perspective being put forward in the article. Such a claim of direct combative instruction would also be at odds with what you wrote in the above posts too. Direct combative instruction would be bunkai.

GaryWado wrote:
Don't get me wrong, you should have an understanding of the technique you are doing (within the movement), however the purpose of practicing the kata is to engrain the underlying principles and skills- to an extent the technique you are doing plays second fiddle!

This is something that I’ve never had satisfactorily explained to me and it is something I discussed in length in this podcast:

http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/occams-hurdled-katana-podcast

I totally agree that principle is more important than technique. From my “bunkai perspective” I see the directly applicable motions of the kata as being examples of underlying combative principles. It is these combative principles we seek to internalise so we can be adaptable and versatile. It’s not the bunkai / direct applications that are of ultimate importance; it is the combative principles that make that example work that are of ultimate importance.

What I struggle to understand about is how applicable principles can be found in inapplicable motions?

Techniques are principles made manifest. We bunkai types can point to the applicable principles that are manifested in the applicable bunkai techniques; that we view as existing to serves as examples of those principles.

I struggle to follow the logic of “this technique will not work when applied this way in combat but the principles manifest in this unworkable scenario can be applied”. How can non-functional techniques be based on functional principles?

To my mind it’s also not enough to say, “this movement involves dropping bodyweight and we can make used of dropping our bodyweight in combat.” The reason I think it’s not enough is because it seems nonsensical / inefficient to me to practise dropping bodyweight for combat in a non-combative way; when you could practice dropping bodyweight for combat in a combative way (bunkai).

GaryWado wrote:
Anyone who trains in a good judo or jujutsu schools for example, will know that there is a world of difference between an arm lock and an arm lock from someone that knows how to use their whole body correctly.

Absolutely! A vital part of learning to put on an arm-bar is to use your body motion efficiently. That should be part of good quality instruction and good technique.

I would also say the best way to learn the correct body motion for arm-bars is through the practise and study of arm-bars. Any skilled sportsman knows how to use their body well; it does not follow they will be good at arm-bars because of their existing attributes though. You want to be good at arm-bars, then develop good technique and good motion through the practise of arm-bars as opposed any alternative method.

The same can be said of any technique or method. Judoka use throws to learn how to use their body for throwing. They learn throwing principles through the practise of throws. Rotation is a very important principle for effective throwing. And judoka learn that rotation principle by practising throws in which that rotation principle is manifest.

This is also what we bunkai types do to learn to use our bodies correctly. We practise directly applicable techniques with a partner (bunkai) and solo (kata) so that we can learn to move well and in accordance with the combative principles that are manifest in kata and bunkai.

Judoka do not have any rotation exercises that are divorced from the rotation of throwing. They do not have a “kaisetsu equivalent” i.e. rotation exercises that teach rotation in a non-functional way. A discus thrower also rotates, as do ballet dancers and gymnasts; and they all move “well”. However their rotation is non-combative so a judoka would deem it irrelevant or an efficient way to train; even where they may be some similarity in motion due to the crucially vast difference in context.

The rotation judoka learn and practice can be shown to be directly applicable when applied to throwing. They don’t learn to rotate in a way totally divorced from throwing and then join it up to throwing later on. They learn rotation and the principle of rotation through the practise of throwing. It’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about my judo practise is that it is all very functional.

ishikawa-karate.com wrote:
The first movement of Pinan sandan or godan is not soto uke vs jodanzuki. Jodanzuki is used to show the principle of rotation and completely changing the direction.

You can teach rotation and changing direction through the bunkai of the kata. You can communicate those principles in a way that is directly applicable in conflict. So why choose to try to do it in a way that is not applicable in conflict instead?

The solo kata remains the same, but the student thinks differently when performing the kata if they practise bunkai as they see it as being directly applicable and hence the all important “mindset” is fostered in a way it is not when realistic situations cannot be visualised or rehearsed.

I think one of the problems I have with the approach described in the article is that it takes something that was designed to be directly applicable to conflict and changes it to a form secondary training that is not directly applicable. Why is that change in approach necessary or desirable?

As always, it’s always down to the individual to go with what they think most logical and what they find gets the best results for them. I do think it is important that people are given plenty of information on which to base their decisions though. In that regard I think this thread has been really useful because in comparing and contrasting the alternative approaches people can decide what makes most sense to them; while having an appreciation of the alternative views. I therefore very grateful to you for this Gary.

All the best,

Iain

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Hi Iain,

No problem, I have enjoyed this discussion and as you say it’s great to get alternative perspectives on such an emotive subject.

Like most, my workload and family life is rather full on at the moment – and that’s before any notion of training and teaching!!

I posted the article as I thought it pretty much summed up what I was trying to say, but like Karate as a whole, it’s very difficult sometimes to get a complete understanding and appreciation over the written word (particularly when English isn’t your first language (the author is Dutch)).

When it comes to it – I am not trying to discredit any approach to learning how to make Karate work or suggest that one is better than another, I was simply trying to offer my understanding of the Wado approach – it’s pedagogy as it were – it may well be viewed as combatively flawed by some, but that’s another discussion and one that I am probably not the most qualified to comment on.

I think there is also another angle to consider when it comes to Wado and that is what its maker wanted out of it.

Perhaps he viewed it as being more than a way to learn how to fight. I wasn’t there, so these are just my musings, but maybe he saw it as a way to bridge the gap between his Koryu past and a new form of Karate for Japan to enjoy alongside the likes of Kendo, Aikido and Judo etc.

Maybe he believed that kata had additional qualities that surpassed the combative - The word “Wado” after all is a compound of the writings “Wa suru ten chi jin no ri-do” – which loosely refers to the harmony of man with the sky and earth etc. Not wishing to get all spiritual/Zen about it, but maybe he saw Kata as a key part of bringing mind and body together.

I few years back, I asked a senior Japanese Wado instructor (who came to stay with me) what “Wa” meant, but he found it hard to articulate (even though his English was good). He eventually replied - As well as Japan, it means everything, it means the universe.

As I say – just my ramblings and I'll try my best to answer your specific points in due course.

Cheers

 Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

GaryWado wrote:

Glad you enjoyed it Zach Zinn.

Certainly semantics do come in to play here and I guess all roads lead to Rome at the end of the day.

The power house in Wado (at my stage of learning anyway) is our paired kata "Kihon Gumite". To me, that is the application of Wado kata - or at least the next step anyway.

Gary

Gary I enjoyed reading that article too, I do think that is Wado'ist aren't looking at Kata in the same way, then surely there would be no qualms in stopping the kata practice and concentrate on all the pair work

http://www.southwestkarate.co.uk/history.htm

He started his Karate training with the famous Gichin-Funikoshi in July 1922, learning a style known as Karate-jitsu. Sensei Ohtsuka met Funikoshi Sensei during a martial-arts demonstration at the Sports Festival organised by the Japanese Educational Department. Sensei Funikoshi agreed to teach Sensei Ohtsuka all he knew about Okinawan Karate-jitsu, the lessons started that same day. Within one year Sensei Ohtsuka had studied all the Kata within the style. Ohtsuka Sensei could see the 'shortfall' in a Kata-only style, it was explained to him that all of the concepts of 'Budo' were within the Kata, and that was the only aspect to train. In 1924 Sensei Ohtsuka introduced Yakusoku-gumite to the system, this concept of 'pair-work' revolutionised Karate-jitsu. He also developed Idori-no-kata, Tachiai-no-kata, and Shirahatori-no-kata. In 1928 he was 'Shindo-Yoshin-ryu-Shihan', the Chief Instructor of his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu. He also set up a 'bone-setting' practice at this time.

Resectfully no one could truly study and understand all the Kata and its ethic and ethos within 1 year's training. I feel that the reason why Funakoshi didn't teach Ohtsuka the Kaisetsu, Kaishaku or Bunkai, or whatever one wishes to describe it as, is because he, like me with some of my students, didn't feel like he was ready for it.

Compare it to a 1st Kyu, they know all the Kata, Kihon and Kumite that a 1st Dan does but are they ready to begin teaching there own class, do they truly understand the what's why's and where's etc, you know the answer would be "NO".

I think that if Ohtsuka stayed with Funakoshi for longer, Funakoshi would have passed on the "secrets" of the kata to him within time

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Hi Black Tiger,

Unfortunately – there’s a lot of half truths and misinformation floating around the web about Otsuka and the formation of Wado – the above is good example.

Although Funakoshi did indeed do a martial arts demo at the athletics expo in 1922, Otsuka didn’t meet him there.

His duration with Funakoshi is somewhat debated. It is generally accepted that he first met Funakoshi in the July of 1922, however the date he decides to leave Funakoshi is said to be 1926 (by the Otsuka family) but other sources put this date as late as 1935.

Although it is understood that Otsuka was Menkyo Kaiden in Shindo Yoshin-ryu (it is believed he received this in 1920), there is no evidence to support the claim he was ever the chief instructor of the school.

Funily enough, I know the instructor of the Karate club who’s web site it is you copied that from (in fact I’ll be training alongside him later in the year) – So I’ll be sure to mention it to him lol.

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Excellent Gary, always good to debate with you OSU!!

Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture

To All,

I just wanted to add that we have to be careful not to paint everyone with the same brush or generalize styles. I have read many comments such as "Wado Doesn't Look at Kata the same Way".  While this may be an overall  consensus for some it doesn't  mean that every Wado School looks at things this same way.

 As Iain has mentioned many times before it is the Individual Instructor that matters and not the so called style. To me at the end of the day karate is karate and styles have become irrelevant because the principles are all the same. So in my view I just practice karate.

Regards,

Michael

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Michael Rust wrote:

To All,

I just wanted to add that we have to be careful not to paint everyone with the same brush or generalize styles. I have read many comments such as "Wado Doesn't Look at Kata the same Way". While this may be an overall consensus for some it doesn't mean that every Wado School looks at things this same way.

As Iain has mentioned many times before it is the Individual Instructor that matters and not the so called style. To me at the end of the day karate is karate and styles have become irrelevant because the principles are all the same. So in my view I just practice karate.

Hi Michael,

Chances are - if you train with a school that is from one of the three main branches of Wado - it will be how they work.

And whilst I agree with your sentiment that the instructor is important - I don't agree that the style isn’t.

I for one don't like the idea of an "homogenised" karate - I think that would be a sad day.

But that’s just me perhaps.

Gary

Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture

Hi Gary,

Let me clarify. I come from a Wado background as well. While I'm very proud of our federation and the history of our style when it comes to bunkai or applying the moves in a kata this is where I take the approach of the principles being the most important factor for combat. It's at that point for me when karate just becomes karate.

I think in the mess of combat there aren't to many people out there that will be able to say that was a Wado technique used on me or that guy hit with Shito punch. This is what I mean when I say for me styles become irrelevant in real combat.  I hope this clears up my view.

Mike

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Hi Mike,

As I said, all roads lead to Rome at the end of the day - different schools have different ways to get there perhaps, but all part of the fun?

I like the idea that the schools way of training builds a kind of combative DNA.

Gary

Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture

Hi Gary,

I totally agree. The only thing I would say as far as kata application is concerned is that not everbody is training the principles in a practical way. Practising your bunkai against only karate kicks and punches to me is not how the kata was intended to be used. I say this because the chances of you be attacked on the street with those types of techniques are extremely rare. That's not say that someone won't kick or punch you it's just that it probably won't be a karate style kick or punch. Your average assailant  is likely not trained in karate.  Anyway, I think most people on this forum understand that.

Regards,

Michael

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

GaryWado wrote:
No problem, I have enjoyed this discussion and as you say it’s great to get alternative perspectives on such an emotive subject.

Like most, my workload and family life is rather full on at the moment – and that’s before any notion of training and teaching!!

I do understand and I’m extremely grateful for your contribution to what I feel has been a very interesting and informative thread.

GaryWado wrote:
When it comes to it – I am not trying to discredit any approach to learning how to make Karate work or suggest that one is better than another, I was simply trying to offer my understanding of the Wado

That comes across very clearly and I’m grateful your vitally important contribution to the tread. My vision for this forum is to make it as good a source of information as I can. It’s up to others what they want to do with that information and how they use it to inform their training / thinking. If we were to try to encourage or reach a “homogeny of viewpoints” there would be no discussion and no the whole thing becomes pointless. To my mind it has been a good thread when there is lots of information within it and I think we’ve certainly achieved that here.

Thanks once again for this.

All the best,

Iain

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

One thing this thread (and many others for that matter) really drives home is the difficulty and limits of language with communicating about this stuff.

Here we are taking a term which as far as I know is of somewhat modern origin, a term we use to describe something that was being done before it was called "bunkai", as far as I know all of these terms for kata application categorization are pretty new and came into use when Karate became popular enough to warrant pragmatic explanatory terms.

If you trained with three other guys and you worked this stuff, I imagine categores like "bunkai" and not bunkai simply didn't exist. You probably didn't need a langauge for every process involved in using the kata. So I feel like the central thing here is the "can you train principles divorced from application" question that Iain pointed out so concisely..as the whole quesiton of whether or it's something called bunkai seems like semantics to me.

I also would like to thank you for the taking the time and having patience with the questions Gary, it's been an enjoyable discussion.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Great thread,

First off, I have never trained Wado Ryu specifically - I have trained alongside and fought many Wadoka (years ago mind). This is both in the dojo and in competition.

I never saw a hint of Bunkai at Wado dojos during that period (about 8 years, about 17 years ago!), but then again there wasn't much in the Japanese Shito Ryu I was practising - but there was some.

The Wado Guys seemed to focus on their paired technique sets (not from the classical kata), and simple kumite principles - and they could fight for sure!

For me the disconnect re Bunkai transmition was Funakoshi Sensei (maybe he was told not to teach 'to much' or maybe he didn't know 'to much' in this area?), and how karate developed on Japan after his time there, mainstream Wado Ryu IMO is a modern form of karate with a strong budo ideal.

Personally I don't 'get' why the mainstream Wado Ryu bothers with the classical kata, I think the mainstream Ryu would be even stronger by not bothering with them.

Granted this is just my experience and view.

BTW IMO Itosu Sensei did much the same thing in Okinawa with what is now say Kobayashi Shorin Ryu (From Chibana Sensei) IMO, it just didn't develop so much with modern ideals, and context of application i.e. sport karate with Japanese budo ideals.

Our own karate (Seito Matsumura Shorin Ryu), historically is not comprehensive with Bunkai passed down the line, and we are about as close as possible to the Matsumura Sensei karate tradition! (but we have NO concept of sport karate, and never did).

LOTS has been lost (and I fully support and applaud our wonderful Researchers and Bunkai re-engineers like Iain Sensei, McCarthy Sensei for their work etc.).

In our school the technique leads to the principle - then you develop your own karate out of that, within the context of the Ryu. Your Oyo is where it's at, personal application.

Just throwing my thoughts out there, please be nice back!

Micke
Micke's picture

Hi Shoshinkanuk,

I believe you are absolutely right about the fact that Gichin Funakoshi did not teach much bunkai, at least not as part of the regular training at his dojo. This probably explains the present lack of bunkai practice in mainstream Shotokan and Wado ryu. Not even during the most intensive years of training during the Second World War was bunkai emphasized. The focus was on other forms of training as this excerpt from a 1997 interview with Kase sensei by Pascal Petrella shows:

"Who was teaching in February 1944 in the Honbu-Dojo at that time ?

Sensei Gichin Funakoshi, Yoshitaka, Genshin Hironishi, Hayashi, Uemura and some other people .

How was the teaching style at that time ?

The Dojo was small, but we trained in groups, beginners and advanced students were separated. But we had individual training as well. We did normally one step Kihon, like Ten No Kata. The emphasis was on long distance, speed and time. Kumite was very hard, we did reality Karate, touch and kill even with the block. Kata was like Kihon, no Bunkai. In the University we did only repetitions, 1000 mae-geris, 1000 tsukis (Sensei Kase was smiling) and 1000 punches on the makiwara everyday before training. A senior would normally stand behind the makiwara and he only counted, when the tsuki was really strong. Often, the skin on the knuckles was gone so I could see the white bone".

Regards

Micke

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi,

I have a rather provoking question I think.

Is there anybody that can confirm what Itosu was teaching to his students in school and to his adult students? He developed new training methods that were suitable for teaching greater groups. But what did he taught, besides Kata? Did he taught Bunkai? Are there any hints?

Regards Holger

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

shoshinkanuk wrote:

The Wado Guys seemed to focus on their paired technique sets (not from the classical kata), and simple kumite principles - and they could fight for sure!...

Personally I don't 'get' why the mainstream Wado Ryu bothers with the classical kata, I think the mainstream Ryu would be even stronger by not bothering with them.

Hi soshinkanuk,

Wado has a history of producing good fighters - particularly on the competition circuit and I don’t think many of the top flight Wado fighters today practice a lot of (traditional) Kata!

“Shiai” however is just one facet - and IMO Wado is more than that.

Kata is very important to us - for the reasons that have been explored over this thread - and I for one feel Wado wouldn’t be the same without it.

Quote:
mainstream Wado Ryu IMO is a modern form of karate with a strong budo ideal.

And I think that’s a very good point - the ideal of Budo is important to many who study Wado-ryu and perhaps this is another reason why the study of Kata is key also.

Gary

petersheff
petersheff's picture

Hi Gary,

I have trained with Arakawa, briefly I must admit ( 17 hrs in 3 days!) and his karate is beautiful. I am not a Wado stylist but was directed to this discussion by Iain after writing to him about another blog which stated "there are no Bunkai in Wado".

My origins come from Shotokan and I've trained with some of the best in the world, however my Karate head was turned upside down after training with the legendary Steve Morris many many years ago on two of his long "effective combat principles" seminars.

I agree 100% with what Iain has said ...and I am new to Iain's website. It is a very logical and fair reply to say you can't deny the origins of the Kata and only those who invented them know the real applications, although various records were kept...the Bubishi for example. Also it is fair to say you can do what you want with Kata in your own way. If you think it’s beneficial to use the Kata for teaching body movement and co-ordination then fine. If you want it to dance just for aesthetics, moving Zen or whatever, that’s fine. If you want to call the principles ‘Kaisetsu’ and have underlying themes for ‘omote’ that’s fine, whatever people want to do with it. But to say there are no Bunkai is plain wrong.

The Kata were designed to defend against real attacks and not for someone coming from a front stance with a lunging punch, etc. Probably some moves were designed against weapons of the day, but you wouldn’t really stop a lunging sword or staff with a Tetsui as in Pinan Nidan / heian shodan and as Iain points out the 'hand on the hip' doing nothing!

The quest should be to discover the ‘Ura’ techniques and even create Oyo that’s fits a persons size and style. This can only be done by an evolution of that persons Karate. Fights have never, and will never be choreographed except for the cinema, so to have some effective combat principles to the most common attacks is a good idea for any Martial Art.

I also believe in the statement that the traditional “blocks” are not blocks and cannot be used as such in a fast combat situation, especially at close distance! Look even at most Karate competitions which are quite long range and see how many times they really perform age uke, soto uke, uchi uke or gedan barai with the form and technique used in Kihon. But the Japanese instructors would always pull us up if technique wasn’t fully executed, saying “no good!”. So done in their correct form they must have an application and I can’t see a technique where the arm is pulled away from the direction of attack first can possibly work. Also who would really block a low or mid level kick with gedan barai leaving the head and neck completely open and in a vulnerable distance, but these types of techniques are still passed off in some clubs. It’s simple... the movement we think is a block has to be a strike or other attack!

To sum up, with the availability of research and history, Karate is now being reborn. Once your eyes have been opened, then instead of fitting karate techniques into a style no matter how much you bastardize them, try fitting the techniques into a fight, making them work against common attacks.

I didn’t know about Iain until I bought two of his books, but I had trained with Vince Morris many times. First in part of the FSK back in the late 80’s as I was one of Aiden Trimble’s students, and then in the Kissaki-Kai group.

The thing I find interesting is that they have both approached the questions and importance of Kata in the same way, and to do this they needed a good knowledge of the history and anatomy. They have come to the same answers that different waza can be applied to a technique used almost in it’s pure form, when following a few basic rules of combat.

Karate was designed to be, and should be, applied to a realistic confrontation.

I do appreciate all the points of view and discussions.

Peter

petersheff
petersheff's picture

Very well disected Iain and I agree 100%!

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Hi Gary,

Your points are understood- I only had limited exposue to Wado people and can only go with what I saw and trained alongside.

I would say my comments are proberly aimed at all of the major Ryu during the 80's/90's when I was around that scene. Granted there are always exceptional people but they aint mainstream, mostly!

kenshindoryu
kenshindoryu's picture

Although a late entrant to this thread, I have trained in Wadoryu for the past 35 years and have, with the exception of Mr Shiomitsu after he became involved with the Wado Renmei, always been taught kata bunkai by both my Japanese and non-Japanese instructors. Mr Shinohara 8th Dan, who is from the Wado Kai branch of wado includes basic 'children's' bunkai in his DVD for all of the Pinan Kata, and back in around 2000 I taught throwing applications in kata on Wadokai England training courses with Sakagami Sensei. In fact, our next kata application course is on 18th Nov (plug, plug!-)

Within my own organisation kata bunkai is an integral part of the syllabus, with indvidual techniques required for all Kyu grades and complete kata for Brown belt grades and above (1st Dan, for example, includes complete bunkai to Chinto, which a local Aikijujitsu instructor once referred to as 'Aiki in a box!')

Whilst we make no claims as to original meanings in these applications, we have applied Wado principles and techniques and particularly taken into account the peculiarly Wado elements of the kata (ie. the Wado way of performing techniques as opposed to Shotokan or Shorin ryu) when 'setting' techniques, almost all of which are at grappling range, involving short-range strikes, tuite, throws, locks and strangles.

My training in Judo and Jujitsu Kempo (and latterly, Shinkendo) has been instrumental in assigning these applications, and it has not been unusual to be practicing techniques in one of these classes which are identical to the kata movements although the instructor will have never seen the karate kata itself! Having said that, it would be equally simple for me to also segment these techniques away from our Wado, had bunkai not been a constant element throughout my training life, so I would strongly disagree that there is no Bunkai in Wadoryu.

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