Saturday, November 16, 2013
Distinguishing The Differences Between “Bunkai”
I was recently viewing various publicized versions of what is being taught as/for bunkai. Technically, I suppose anyone's “guess” is as good as any other (really). We don't know what the original creator's envisioned the motions to of represented. What's being taught today is only what recent practitioner's are speculating those motions to of represented.
Having stated that, I do feel that a lot of what's being taught (as being bunkai) is cobbled together nonsense (that has neither practical application, nor any beneficial study/practice value). To qualify that opinion, I have to convey my own interpretation of what/how bunkai is ascertained and interpreted.
First off, I view kata motion(s) as having been assembled for convenience (for the originator of the kata). Not being aware of what was going through that individual's mind at the time (of the creation of the kata), it's difficult to ascertain what their intent was (or if there even was any particular intent) beyond creating a (easily repeatable) sequence of motion for future practitioner/student reference.
We can speculate that the creator would of combined similar “idea's”, “circumstances”, or “types” of techniques into a particular kata, but that is (still) only a guess. They could (easily) of just been the favored techniques of “that” creator (thereby justifying the need for additional kata to be taught).
It's (already) known that the master's (of old) only taught a few kata to their own students. Only since the capitalization of “Te” (via Japan, the U.S. As well as numerous “other” western countries) has the preference for for a larger number of kata (to be taught to students) been propagated.
Instructor's of old, (each) had their own beliefs as to what was necessary to be learned for Life-Protection. This was not that much different from today (there's just a LOT more instructor's that are pushing their own beliefs instead of effective ones). Today's instructor's just seem to believe that “theirs” is the only way.
I'm sure that many of those (various) “ways”, are perfectly acceptable (for their stated purpose), I just believe that what someone is “proposing” as being what a system should be instructing to students to do, should hold-up to outside scrutiny.
I also do not believe that every system, can (or even should) be successfully performed by every student (of that system). I believe that is one of the major problems with “advertized” instruction of the martial arts today.
Prospective students are not being guided towards the defensive systems that would best serve them. All methodology's are not created equally (and for good reasons). They weren't designed to be used by the same (types of?) people, nor for the same results.
Yet every instructor that I've heard selling (preaching) their particular style/system, will claim that it was designed to be utilized by anyone. And I have to say, Bullshit.
I tend to believe that every system was designed (specifically) for a particular individual (type?), and to deal with particular circumstances. That system may well of been (able to be) utilized by a number of other (similar) individual's, but initially, it was designed for just that one individual, or type of individual.
Any systems value, lay in it's ability to be utilized by a wider selection of (other) individual's. But that doesn't mean (automatically) that it can be used efficiently, by every individual.
I understand the debate about (individual) “techniques” and/or how they're being taught/utilized (in regards to their effectiveness). But that debate has to include the physical attributes of the prospective student as well.
This will have a direct influence on how “Bunkai” will (or should) be determined from the kata motions. By “attributes”, I'm not (necessarily) referring to physical strength. Any system that depends on physical strength (IMO), is flawed to begin with, and shouldn't be considered a viable Life-Protection system.
When determining Bunkai, there should be established “standards” as well. It would appear that those standards vary, depending on what one determines to be “valid” bunkai.
For myself, motions that do not illustrate a purpose (meaning a valid application), should not be considered to be bunkai. The question then becomes what is “valid”.
For training purposes, every motion should be considered to be applicable. It is our purpose (thru our training), to establish the purpose of each performed motion.
The majority of the motions that I saw being illustrated on the videos that I watched, were simplistic, and rarely “realistic” (at all). Their main “purpose” was to promote their interpretations (thus promoting themselves). Their standard “CYA” is to claim that some motion is “basic” (or intermediate and/or even “advanced”). This allows one “wiggle-room” to backtrack or change one's story at a later date (ie. When it's demonstrated to be ineffective).
Within the posted videos, the motions (techniques?) I observed were riddled with extra and unnecessary motions. Those motions only apparent purpose, was to illustrate the instructor's supposed ability/knowledge.
When deciphering the motions, they should accomplish the desired effect in the most productive and effective manner possible. This should be done without any extraneous (non-productive) motions that do not produce effective/productive results.
Kata motions (bunkai) should not be interpreted as “set-up” motions or be for producing responses that don't accomplish any effects that don't directly result in an aggressor's (probable) neutralization.
If a debilitating result doesn't occur within 3 motions, the technique should be considered invalid (being considered too long to accomplish the task).
That premiss is repeatedly illustrated within the Naihanchi kata, and within all of the instructed kata. If an interpretation is shown to be a “sparring” technique, then it is some instructor's wet-dream interpretation (having no value for Life-Protection).
Techniques that provide effective application are rarely (if ever) “Pretty” or stylish. They only perform a required function (commonly the neutralization/immobilization of an aggressor and/or their attempted action).
Correctly combining those kata motions should not entail extra (unnecessary) actions (that don't directly produce an effective result).
Though the movements often contain all of the necessary actions to do so, motions from other kata are often incorporated as well.
My own evaluation of the Pinan kata, is that (because) they are composed of motions from the traditional kata (and are thereby redundant). The motions shown within them are already present in the traditional kata, so I don't (always) feel they need to be taught as well.
My own interpretations are that they were developed to be utilized as stepping stones (to performing the traditional kata), but in fact, are creating hindrances to proper technique application (through the inaccurate interpretation of the involved motions).
And why do I say that? Look around at the emphasis made on sparring techniques (as being the “interpretations” that are most often presented as “bunkai”). These are wishful thinking (only). When the original (traditional) kata were developed (which the Pinan were derived from), there was no sparring (why would motions pertaining to it of been included?).