Saturday, August 12, 2017


  I was asked recently by a student to define the difference between Goshin (“self-defense”) and Jissen (“real/actual or non-consensual” combat), types of Kata. Though (IMO) often being a matter of semantics, I believe that the differences are with how the motions are being interpreted. I've seen several articles that attempt to “categorize” Kata into one or the other of those groups, but I believe this to be a myopic approach to viewing the Kata.

I tend to consider any/every kata motion (regardless of the kata it is being illustrated in) as having multiple interpretations. This was how Oyata defined and exampled them to us. Viewing those motions (much less the entire kata) as being One or the Other, seems a little pointless (and extremely limiting).

The implication being, that a particular kata was assembled to only example motions that could be used for one or the other is ridiculous.

I believe this has more to do with the instructor, than with the individual kata. I could see individual bunkai for a kata being “categorized” in this manor, but to proclaim the entire kata (and all of the bunkai for that kata) as being one or the other is a bit drastic (if not simplistic and limiting).

That being said, Oyata had in certain instances labeled certain (weapon's) kata as being “Jissen” (kata). Weapons kata were (mainly) taught for their benefits in regard to “open-hand” applications. The manipulation of the individual weapon would often illustrate a particular motion that was (directly) applicable to a commonly utilized open-hand application. If/when the kata was being shown to emphasize the use of that weapon (and of the motions contained therein), he would commonly call it “Jissen”. Doing so did not “change” the kata (per-say), only in how the student should be considering the motion's application.

Numerous systems teach “simplified” exercises/forms for beginning students (IMO, the “Pinan” kata fall into this category). Though often defined as having (only) “basic” bunkai, those motions were extracted from the classic kata, so the bunkai associated to them should (also) have the same interpretations as the kata from which they originated. It is this avenue of logic that I apply to the Pinan kata. Though personally preferring to practice the classic kata, I can appreciate the motions contained within the Pinan kata (though I don't particularly care for the practice of them).

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