Wednesday, October 5, 2016

BUNKAI - The Essence of Kata

Bunkai from kata (self-defense). This application shows
up in several advanced kata.
Bunkai (practical applications) are every bit as important as the karate kata they are found in. The more one trains in kata, muscle memory, balance, speed & power will improve. And when one practices kata along with the bunkai, the better their skills will be in self-defense.

But it is important to take time initially to:

(1) Take your time to build muscle memory. As your body gains muscle memory, focus all strikes, blocks and kicks (blocks need to be as powerful as strikes, but use your head because some students can not accept powerful blocks).

(2) Speed up technique and perform kata and bunkai as fast and powerful as you can. Take a few seconds and watch some of the more impressive students in a dojo - what are they doing that makes them look so fast and powerful? You should be able to duplicate & even surpass their efforts - just put in as much energy as you can in your kata and bunkai. But make sure that the technique and stance are not sloppy.

You need to have focus even at the beginning of a new technique or kata. How you practice in the dojo, is how you will defend on the street. If you put in little effort, you are going to learn something, but you are also setting yourself up for a real shock if you have to use your martial art for self-defense. Take a look at any Tai Chi video. Do you think the performer of tai chi could actually defend themselves? Ask yourself. Am I fast enough to block a punch from an attacker? Can I knock down an attacker with one strike?

Another bunkai found in kata - this one occurs in Naihanchi shodan 
and others
As muscle memory kicks in when you are learning a new kata or bunkaipractice the bunkai and kata slow, but focus every single kick, punch and block. During the session, emphasize posture, balance & proper stance.

Next, do bunkai and kata with as much energy as you can muster - imagine defending yourself and you have to respond to your opponent with great force and speed.

When it comes to bunkai, it is important that after you acquire muscle memory to train with great acceleration and focus. We’ve all heard the gi sleeve and cuff ‘snap’ during class. This is your goal! Listen for that snap on every move in kata and in bunkai! The gi snap is an important training aid. But, protect your training partner by punching in the air next to him or her, that way when someone makes the wrong move, you both will survive.
Kata bunkai demonstrated at black belt clinic at the Arizona Hombu dojo by Grandmaster Hausel. Students claim
Soke Hausel is so fast that they cannot see the techniques until he make a concerted effort to slow down. This kind of 
speed and power results from training with power, speed and focus in all kata and bunkai.


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