I talked about the following concept once before in a previous article but I wanted to re-approach it from a video angle.
When thinking about bunkai, there are many different ways you can dig deeper into the heart of your kata. As a beginner, it is enough to show that you can move your body with proper technique. If you can then use the movements of the kata to avoid getting hit and perhaps even hit the opponent back, then that’s great.
However, as you increase your experience and comfort level, you must begin to ask yourself if you are utilizing technique to its fullest extent. Does the motion you’re doing make sense, and is it an optimal response when put in a common sense context?
The following video explores layers of bunkai by utilizing a piece of the Pinan Shodan kata (note: used in the video are the terms Go No Sen and Sen No Sen).
The kama is a very intriguing weapon. It behaves differently than both bludgeoning and slicing weapons, but contains a little essence of both.
In today’s video I provide a tactic for using the kama properly. Historically speaking the kama were used in pairs, and as such benefited from the ability to cross and uncross in order to cover zones and close distance.
Check it out as I explore a little bit of the weapon’s history, a breakdown of how crossing/uncrossing works, and finish with a little bit a good natured randori to put the weapons into action.
It’s important never to underestimate the role of distance and timing in a combative engagement. When using weapons, even the slightest slip up can result in serious injury. When using a short range weapon, you have to place mobility at the top of your priorities, and utilize techniques that have built in fail-safes. Crossing and uncrossing is very valuable in that regard.
I’d like to share a video this week that explores a portion of the Gojushiho kata. Many karate styles share this kata, which makes exploring the different versions very interesting and impactful. Despite their performance differences, most styles include a section wherein the practitioner steps in a kosa dachi fashion, performs a grabbing motion, and then steps out into a throw.
This video looks at that series and explains how you can take the performance of the technique and drill down to the core concepts that make it work in a combat-viable fashion.
The bunkai demonstrated is far from the only application possible. The real goal here is to show how practitioners can explore their kata in ways they might not have considered before.
As you dive into the bunkai and oyo bunkai of your kata, never be afraid to ask yourself “could I really use this?”. A good application keeps reality in mind while staying true to the essence of the form itself.
Finally, remember that some kata (including Gojushiho) were subject to alteration and hiding of technique throughout the history of Okinawa. Finding what the technique is trying to whisper is sometimes more important than what the technique literally shouts.