It seems a day hardly goes by without somebody challenging ‘bunkai’ for a kata technique. I would like to examine this.
First set aside the term ‘bunkai’ (there is a lot of charged issues behind the term). I would suggest rather a clearer term, that of kata application analysis.
Kata representing a set of movements. Application analysis the logical way those movements may be used to 1. Insert themselves into an attack (interior line of defense vs. exterior line of defense) or even (interior line of offense vs. exterior line of offense) And each might be done moving towards the attacker, away from the attacker, or various angles around the attacker.
Thus any movement has a large set of possibilities.
Some of them might be useful for helping a beginner remember the movement.
When basic skill in acquired, they may be useful for developing the potentials for those skills.
When advanced skills are acquired they may take on different meanings.
Demonstrations rarely do more than suggest some of the possibilities for applications.
Often others watching those demonstrations may make observations on their potential worth. Ignoring the reality if one has developed the skill to make it work, it does not matter what an outside observer thinks. For demonstrations are just that, a way to provide some education of the movement. Never replacing the full skill development required.
Then there is the other half of the equation. Development of Application Skill Development. Or the training actually required to develop that application potential. This is the larger part of the puzzle of how an application works. I have never seen a video showing this training. It is beyond the scope of a demonstration.
Which also explains why some felt things were being hidden.
For is one has not developed the skill required to move into this application potential, it is likely not worth the time to show the potential. Time better spent working on developing the skills involved.
Of course it does not take into account one’s WANT’S to know what is out there. But I imagine the instructors of the past did not care on whit about what a student WANT’S, instead caring desperately about what skill a student can develop.
Another thing is that you do not need to know everything. You just have to develop the skill to make what you already know actually work, every time.
So why more than one movement. Life is long, and we need continual challenges to push ourselves forward. Knowledge skill development to keep ourselves fresh.