March 31st, 2014
Tamir Sensei Denshi-Shihan Ueshiro Neve [Oasis] Karate Dojo
Kata Bunkai is practicing the application of our Kata.
Bunkai involves one karateka playing the role of the defender, who shall win the fight (using a specific kata) against multiple attackers, portrayed by several other karateka. A single karateka can take on the role of multiple attackers, by constantly switching positions around the defender. Hence, a bunkai can be performed by as few as two karateka working together or as many as half a dozen or even more portraying a gang circling the defender. Great demonstrations of Kata Bunkai are shown on the 1989 Video DVD, available for purchase from Kyoshi Seeger. I particularly like the demos by Kyoshi Baker and Kyoshi Mackay paired together (look for the younger versions of these two exceptional karateka).
There may be various interpretations of the kata in the bunkai (in its application). In other words, the attacker may use different types of attacks (in terms of stepping, stance, change in height, technique) suitable for the particular defensive move of a kata. The defensive move may need to be adjusted to reach the attacker effectively in terms of stepping distance, height, target location, etc. However, make every effort to preserve the original kata form and understand its intended use/application.
I like to do the bunkai, such that every vector in a kata symbolizes one opponent which must be dealt with and defeated by the end of that vector (i.e., before dealing with the next opponent on another vector); delivering a devastating blow at the end of each vector to disable the respective opponent.
For example, let's consider the last two vectors of Pinan Shodan. They are mirror images of one another, at 45 degrees to the left and the right of the starting position of that kata, involving a gedan-barai-uke (low block) from zenkutsen dachi, followed by an upper thrust into shizentai-dachi with jodan-uke (high block or elbow smash). I like to envision the jodan-uke at the end of these vectors knocking out the respective attackers with the defender's body and arm thrusting upwards from the low stepping stance into a high stance with strike catching the attacker's chin and knocking their head off (i.e., breaking their neck). This sounds vicious, because a fight is vicious!
Obviously, we must take extra care not to injure our training partners; so be very careful during training, but at the same time portray the bunkai as viscious as possible while maintaining safety. Both the attacker and defender should be vicious with delibrate and effective karate step, stance, change in height, thrust, technique, etc.
Let's explore this week what the masters (authors) of our kata[s] may have envisioned as the vicious fighting scenarios around which they composed their respective kata[s].
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu