Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Bunkai (Kata Application) Debate

In recent years, traditional martial artist have been pushing a movement on Kata application (or Bunkai). Most people look at Kata as a prearranged or choreographed dance like routine.  Kata represents a classical expression of Karate technique, theory and history. Kata (or forms) were presented as a method to teach the masses. Now a days, you learn a certain number of Kata to get to the next grade in your system. Within the last several years, Bunkai has become a big thing of interest for the Karate students. The techniques take on multiple meaning where the blocks are also strikes, joint locks, throws, etc. All of this is cool, but people have to remember that the only way to learn real fighting is to spar or fight. I've seen some cool presentations and I've seen some ridiculous stuff out there too. The meaning of a technique can be debated but when you learn how to fight, you can dissect a technique for yourself and apply it against a noncompliant opponent. Ask the theorists how many people have they knocked out compared to the competitor with fight experience. There is nothing wrong with the study of Kata. I enjoy it and view it as self meditation, focus and technique perfection. It is an artistic expression of combat. It allows one to pay respect to an art form. Just like wearing a uniform, bowing, counting in Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, it is part of the culture of the style you train in. But, remember that you have to spar and if you can get out and compete, so you can practice against a resisting opponent. For the lethal techniques (eye gouging, groin and throat attacks), ask yourself if you have to be taught those or did you already know them (I hope you already did).  I think full contact competitions (or training in that manner) are the answer to finding out if your style works.  This way, we don't have to dwell on what if this or what if that. The results are evident and you don't have to debate it.

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