Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turn and Face the Strange

Ka-ka-ka-ka-Ka ta (Turn and Face the Strange)

 I keep encountering blogs that are written about various opinions of what bunkai from the Naihanchi kata could be. The many varied and diverse interpretations can be (simplistically) divided between sparring/sport and practical (protective) application.

 I don't really have any concern for the sport/sparring applications (see those opinions elsewhere), My interest is towards the protective applications aspect. When others present their opinions on what various motions might represent, I like to compare them to those that I'm aware of (if I'm aware of a technique for the motion being presented).

 When I began my study of RyuTe, the bunkai I utilized for my students was still simplistic. As my knowledge increased, the bunkai that I used changed as well. Strangely enough, not always to becoming more complicated, only different. For many motions, the bunkai became or remained simplistic (technically speaking) but the results became more pronounced.

 It still amazes me, how people will strive to complicate the simplest things (and usually to lower levels of applicability). Of course there are those (still) who don't believe any techniques (beyond the “kicky-punchy” ones) are depicted in the kata motions. Those practitioners are content to continue utilizing simplistic motions that rarely work beyond the walls of the training hall, but if they're happy, then more power to them.

 That isn't what I've been taught, nor is it what I teach to my students. RyuTe doesn't (necessarily) focus upon only certain techniques. It's emphasis is more upon learning what (already) known motions are applicable in any given situation (and the principles that make them applicable).

 The simplistic (and often obvious) motions that are used by many systems as being the represented bunkai would hardly need to be included in a mnemonic exercise for students to repeatedly perform (a.k.a.”Kata”). The vast majority of (supposed) bunkai that I've seen being presented, are of well-known/recognized motions and techniques. Evidently it's obviously easier to inject known techniques, than it would be to (actually) study the kata to learn any different ones.

 What is often ignored (and has possibly been lost through the modification of the traditional kata by some), is the individual limb motion(s) made within the kata. Certain motions performed during the kata are used (extensively) in numerous techniques/applications, yet could be easily ignored if the motions purpose were unknown/recognized as being important (to those techniques application).

 It appears (at least to myself) that many practitioners/instructors have become sedentary in their study of the kata. They (only) look for the known applications. It's my own opinion that the purpose of kata is NOT to (only) review the known, but to be able to recognize the known, and to (further) apply it to additional situations (through the examples of motion provided within the kata).

 This would make all the motions within the kata (equally) important (including the trivial ones), and the (actual) bunkai limitless (depending upon one's experience/research). The search, for some individual technique (for each motion) has always seemed self-defeating (to myself).

 Right or Wrong, by using this approach to bunkai, we have developed several technique applications that we presently teach to our students. If/when they are proven impractical, we modify and/or eliminate them (from our technique repertoire). More importantly, don't be afraid to experiment, this is how new developments/discoveries are made.
Turn and Face the Strange (as well as the New and Unknown).

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