Saturday, June 12, 2010


Last Thursday we went to the Dothan Botanical Garden to practice and tape Bunkai of 4 Bato-ho Waza : Tsuigekito, Shato, Zantotsuto and Zentekigyakuto.

Bunkai is a practical application of a solo practice move.

Bunkai can be very obvious, specially in basic kata such a Yoshukai Kion Kata Shodan, the moves are mostly combinations of inside middle blocks and direct front punch. 

In some other cases, such as old forms or kata which might have been modified for various reasons by generations of instructors, Bunkai may not be evident. When a master created a form, he might have had one, or several bunkai in mind for each move of the form. So there may be several possible and legitimate bunkai for every move or waza of a form, or kata.

Why practice Bunkai ? Because they bring an element of reality in our individual practice. Martial Arts are not about grace and elegance. Kata should be practiced to develop safe and automatic reactions to real life-threatening situations. If in our practice we perform an approximative, wrongly angled and timed move, in real life this may translate into injury.

So Bunkai practice with a skilled partner really attacking will help you feel and understand the actual meaning of the move. There is nothing like being hit to realize we were doing something wrong - or unskillful. It will also help you realize that the form (Kata - Waza) which some instructors insist is absolutely immutable has to be adapted to take into account size, distance and timing of an actual attack - if when you take one step as requested by the book you are too short, then take a second step...

Once you fine tuned your practice through bunkai practice with different partners of different size, speed and experience, then you can go back to your individual practice and visualize what you really are doing. This brings a totally different dimensions to your practice, and you will also realize the why's of some details you had never wondered about.

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