Thursday, September 21, 2017

Application Potential versus Application Skill Acquisition

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.

1 comment:

Victor Smith said...

It is a very personal journey for me.

I was totally alone almost as soon as I received my black belt. So I started visiting almost everyone I met at tournaments to work out. The paradigm which I had learned my Isshinryu was fine, but I did not have others around to work with. I recall daily runs where I started thinking the techniques in kata must have a use for defense, But that was not how I was taught, nor were other schools doing that. My Tai Chi instructor, Ernest Rothrock, and I had discussions and now I realize he was asking me many leading questions about what the techniques I had in karate could be used for.

Then I met Tristan Sutrisno and discovered him using the term bunkai for extremely explosive techniques taught from the kata. But no one else anywhere uses a similar paradigm. For his training a student (of any level) spend no time worrying about how a technique is used. Rather the kyu studies do not spend time on bunkai, other drills are focused on, technique development, power development and drills leading the student how to use the space around an attack for defense.

Then at Shodan bunkai begins. For each movement point in a kata, a string of movements are taught to blow anyone away, those movements having nothing doing with the kata. Then at Nidan a different set of movements are studied.
The same for Sandan, Yodan and Godan. They do have themes for those levels, but the only thing they have in common is they are extremely explosive, using striking, locking, projections etc. The dan student just works to master those techniques.
I am not such a student, but he showed a great deal about those bunkail

As I learned this use of ‘bunkai’ first, before the magazines started talking about it, no other definition ever registered for me.

But my own studies used a different paradigm, based on kata’s actual techniques.

But I had learned a lesson, words aren’t necessary. When I as a researcher use words, in practice the were just experienced and then trained and trained.

My own preference is to understand the depth of any movement. For example using the first movement of Seisan kata, a 100 different ways (just an example). To defeat any attack, Then the 100 uses of the 2nd movement.

But revealed in episodic fashion.

The goal not to use a movement, but to work to understand any movement can be the ultimate defense. Simply put the attacker offers an attack, you respond and they are on the ground.

There are many answers, Any of which puts the attacker down, is a good answer.