Monday, September 16, 2013
The Confusion of Simplicity
Taika's methodology has often been considered to be very confusing (to new students). That confusion hasn't necessarily been based upon the complexity of what he was teaching, but (more so) upon the simplicity of what he was showing (people often wanted to make more out of what was being shown, than was intended or even necessary from the lesson).
For whatever reason, a popular saying of late has been the reference to Occman's Razor. Though initially sounding plausible, this manor of definition commonly requires greater investigation (to ascertaining the complete, if not correct answer). It is usually only acceptable as a temporary "fix".
This is particularly true when investigating martial art practices (particularly "kata bunkai") in general. From the obtained information (provided by numerous previous "masters"), the kata are a collection of defensive techniques that were configured in various sequences for the reason of preservation (and not necessarily demonstrated application), as well as the ability for them to be conveyed over time (to additional students).
It was from these provided motions, that the techniques could be extrapolated upon (for additional applications). Though to do so, it initially needed to be understood what those techniques were used for, and how they were implemented. As to how, and what those techniques necessarily were, and what their application consisted of, is a very controversial subject. It's possible to place 10 practitioner's of 10 different styles/systems into a room, show them a kata motion, and they will provide you with 10 (often completely) different explanations for what that motion represents.
There's no real way to say who's right (or wrong). The creator's of those kata are long dead and gone. There were no (reliable/verifiable) records that were made that could confirm or deny what those motions were intended to represent. Hence, the bunkai being provided today, are only the best guesses, being made by modern practitioner's.
For those who follow the methodology taught by Oyata, his (only) instructor's (Wakinaguri, and Uhugushugu) instructed him in their method of how to interpret/break-down the kata motions (regardless of the individual kata).
What we teach today, are what Taika had determined to (possibly) be many of the correct motions being demonstrated within the kata. Easily 95% of what is being practiced (by "us", his students), are the application of those kata motions, and recognizing what those motions represented in the instructed kata.
Much of the bunkai taught today (by other schools/systems), is being related to "sport sparring/competition". Though some motions could be able to be related to that manor of conflict, it's a long stretch (at best). When those kata were created, there was no “sport sparring”. Any bunkai shown that is related to "sport sparring", is a recent interpretation (and rarely, if ever has anything to do with Life-Protection).
When working with different students (often with experience in different systems/schools), I've been exposed to a great many different manors of kata bunkai/explanations.
Judging by my own experience, a practitioner should follow what they feel most comfortable with (as for believing which bunkai is most accurate). "Most" (bunkai) has at least some level of value/application. If/when that bunkai begins to sound a little too far-fetched, is when it's time to step back and consider the source (of the bunkai being provided). If someone's bunkai has unrealistic (and/or sport) requirements to it's use/application, then it's most likely "made-up" (be it for personal profit/gain, or for demonstrations of hubris).
I'm sure it's nice to feel all Kum-Bye-Yah about your practice of a "martial art", but frankly, it boils down to being all about how to defeat an aggressive opponent. That shouldn't imply that you have to "cripple" and/or kill the aggressor to do so, only that it should be an available option within that training. Some of the motions contained within the instructed kata, provide that option.