Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I Second (and Third) That Motion
What if kata motion were just that, a motion. Over the years, I've seen dozen's of different bunkai for just about every kata motion that's ever been done. Some good, some bad.
What I commonly encounter is people showing “1” (though sometimes more) technique for each motion performed in the kata. For the sake of simplicity, this would be the easiest for student's to understand, and to remember.
The difficulty that I had with this theory, was the limitation's it implied. I (personally) find it difficult to believe that someone would create a kata that only had the 30 (or so) techniques being represented for practice or as a mnemonic (much less as a tool for further learning).
I find it difficult to believe that anyone would create a kata, and then regard it as being some manner of magnum opus in order to only remember/practice a (few) limited number of techniques (and then attempt to keep it a big secret). There would be no point to doing so.
When the Japanese were shown and taught the kata, they accepted the motions at their face value. This perspective (at the time) worked with the Japanese requirements of recruiting young males for military service.
After the war, there existed a level of animosity (if not outright hostility) towards Japan (by the Okinawan's). The few Okinawan's that were aware of many of the (true) kata bunkai, had no desire to share that knowledge with the Japanese (the Japanese military had committed numerous atrocities upon the Okinawan people during the war, and especially during the last few months of the war).
This was one subject that irritated Taika when he would read some westerner's reasoning as to why the (correct) bunkai wasn't taught or shown to western student's. By his accounts, the Okinawan's held no animosity towards the American's.
When the war ended, the Okinawan's wanted nothing to do with the Japanese (because of the lies and atrocities that were committed upon them by the Japanese). It would have been doubtful that any Okinawan would have divulged any known bunkai “secrets” to them.
From the accounts that Taika gave, the Japanese were still considered to be the “new” students (when the war first began, ie. “1930's”). The master's that were still living at that time wouldn't have been comfortable with revealing too much with those (from their perspective) new student's (the Japanese).
Aside from this antipathy towards the Japanese, many of the older master's of “Te” had died (either before the war's end, or during that time period). This was often because of the war itself, or from their advanced years (both Uhugushigu and Wakinaguri were over 90 years of age when Taika met them following the war).
Because of these numerous factors, the Japanese were never really shown the (same) type of bunkai that Taika has developed for RyuTe®. When my associate and myself are teaching (as well as doing our own technique research), we frequently recognize various kata motions during our research practice (because of his instruction on how to determine bunkai).
It's been my own opinion, that all motions performed within the kata, are there to example proper application motion. Though the common interpretation of “bunkai” are individual techniques, we have found that the kata motions are (more) representative of general application (motions).
It appears to be more popular to (need to?) learn “ump-teen” numerous kata, in order to learn more techniques. This doesn't make sense (at least to me). When one references the known techniques and researches the motions in the kata to them, one see's that every motion within the kata has the potential of/for technique application.
I don't believe that the kata were derived from technique motions (and just lumped together). It's my opinion, that the kata motions are representative of general, as well as specific (technique and body) motions.
When one researches the old masters and what they taught, each would rarely instruct more than a couple of kata to their students. Yet in virtually every system taught today, it seems that students are required to learn more and more kata (yet are barely able to interpret more than a few “token” technique contained within the motions of each of the kata they already know).
If one will focus upon each and every motion within the kata (that they are researching), they will discover far more than a collection of individual techniques. They will learn the principles of what makes their system of choice work.
I've come to believe that the study of bunkai, is more than the simplistic collection of individual techniques. True bunkai is learning the principles and gaining the understanding of motion and reaction (that are contained within those kata motions).