Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bu is it Bunkai? Part V Advent of the Internet

It was about 1997 I joined the internet community, originally AOL and the dial up modem. It opened a new dimension to my martial studies, meeting people around the world, sharing ideas, challenging each other.

I does not replace training or a qualified instructor and is faulty as a research tool because it’s difficult to vet with accuracy shared claims.

Time has shown time after time much that has been written in the past 40 or so years is subjective and if there was a fault in the original writing, it’s likely been copied down book after book.

A good example of this is the description of a lock across the carotid artery will cut the blood flow to the brain and cause unconsciousness. Sounds reasonable until you work with a Surgeon and have it explained the reason the person blacks out is because of loss of blood to the brain from the lock, rather it is because the carotid sinus performs its function from the lock, registers a spike in the blood pressure of the carotid artery and in turn triggers the heart to stop beating, the real cause of the lack of blood flow and consciousness.

The truth is a lock across the carotid artery doesn’t impede the brain because secondary arteries deliver enough blood to maintain sensuousness. In neck surgery a patent is frequently kept conscious even when the carotid artery is shut down for the surgery.

Yet because there are many books out there talking about the ‘blood choke’ too many times information is just copied and not researched for accuracy.

Trying to understand the history of karate is as difficult for the same reason. Especially as most karate developed in an environment where nothing was documented and the main transmission was oral teaching and direct experience (your instructor hitting you to prove it works).

This does not mean there is no value in what has been written, but it is best not to accept the published word as accurate. Even if it base on oral history it is reasonable to accept it provisionally, unless other information comes to the surface at a later time, and if so everything should be re-evaluated in the light of later discovery.

Taking the time to work the net has been beneficial and provoking.

1. I have met people from all over the world and we have shared and continue to share, through the CyberDojo, FightingArts.com, eBudo.com, and many other discussion groups including private ones I host on Isshinryu and the study of Bunkai with a very small group of instructors.

2. Various discussions have helped frame my studies, providing better levels of abstraction describing what is behind karate technique application. Examples would be the use of fractals of techniques as complete techniques themselves, or the use of the bodies force multipliers such as the knee release, or using my body alignment studies to explain how centering both increases power and can be used to neutralize attacks.

3. At friends request I have translated French translations of Mabuni’s first two books from 1933, with ‘bunkai’ for Seienchin Kata and Seipai Kata (though I prefer Mario McKenna’s translations from the Japanese myself), Roland Habsetzer’s work on the Bubishi and large parts of Kenjutsu Tokishi ‘Histoire Du Karate-Do’. It is humbling to learn how much work the act of translation entails and in turn I appreciate my friends efforts more.

4. Finally the video sharing represented across the internet, especially bye sharing groups like YouTube has place almost everything imaginable at your fingertips. With so much not available, the remaining question is what isn’t being shown, which for every art is the 99.994% not seen.

Of course the more you can see the more questions which will follow, and the journey to find the answers to some of those questions is to follow.

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