Trying to understand Bunkai

Discussion in 'Karate' started by GaryWado, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    People do, the internet is riddled with examples of karateka doing exactly this.

  2. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    Hi Gary.

    I study Shotokan and this is the way we study the art. I can't speak for any other major Shotokan organizations. This is my and ours way of Shotokan-ryu within Shoto mushin kai Kase-ha Karate-do.

    To understand the form of Shotokan-ryu i must write about the origin of our movements which arrived from the Jigen-ryu Kenjustu via Sokon Bushi Matsumura. The "O-waza" (big technique/big movement) is made to develop strength and speed. This principle is easy to
    understand when a student is preforming the Taikyoku kata. There is only big movements in the "Shodan & Nidan" version which were created by Gigo Funakoshi.

    So our kata has naturally big movements. These katas may not see very realistic to a person who is looking at them, but if you lack the deep insights it is also here were your train stops. Many students starts with other arts or sports. They just don't have the right stamina or spirit for it and that is nothing wrong with that.

    I mean how many do really study karate-do to 100%? Not many. Do you really think of every technique you exacute, do you really use maximum power of your body and whatabout your spirit? Do you strive to use the tanden with correct pressure and body dynamics?

    I think we can learn alot from the tode-jujitsu applications. There is much great books and teachers we can learn from. But if your karate is true genuine and not an Mcdojo version then there is no big difference when you have reach a good level i your training.

    The change in kata-form started with Itosu on Okinawa when it was incorporated into the school-system. He re-arranged the kata and took away all dangerous techniques.

    Gichin brought with him the original form to the mainland but due to politics and secrecy they changed the kata forms. Also they wanted to create something new. Gigo's karate was influenced from the Kendo with samurai's principles.

    "There must be realism in kata not just only form" Gigo Funakoshi.

    We train every kata in four different directions to start with. Why we do it? Well studying kata in one direction is like going to the gym and only train your right biceps but not your left! After a while it looks funny… So to be able to become as complete as possible and to be able to generate a good level of power in any direction we study in this way.

    Then we also have the bunkai applications which has endless applications. In them we also incorporate the hente/sente techniques to add more realism to it.

    Gichin and Gigo left the tode-jujitsu a long time ago to create a new form called: Karate-do. We have no wish to start doing jujutsu or judo or anything else. We will continue what Gichin, Gigo and the late Shihan Taiji Kase started and keep developing karate to become more effective & powerful.

  3. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Hi Kodama

    Interesting post, but I feel obliged to take issue with the above statement (assuming I understand your meaning correctly).

    It seems fair to say that Shotokan utilises the idea 'big technique/big movement' in training, but I don't think it can realistically be argued that this came from Matsumura. There are Karate systems that are much closer to Matsumura's teachings than Shotokan is and they don't use this 'big movement' idea at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

    I can see it is tempting to see this idea coming from Jigen Ryu via Matsumura but all the evidence I've seen suggests that this isn't the case - rather its the two Funakoshi's, Gichin & Gigo who seem to have driven the 'big movement' philosophy you see in Shotokan. It certainly didn't exist prior to their influence.

  4. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

  5. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    I have to respectful disagre with you there again. Wheras it really come from Sokon Bushi Matsumura we can't really prove "scientifical" only thing we have the word of our late Shihan. But it's fair to say that when Sokon Bushi Matsumura learnet Jigen-ryu he saw the new movements and how the used the swords. It is also fair to say that he passed on these teachings to his students. Two of them were as we know: Azato and Itosu. In this case Azato was very skillfull in jigen-ryu. From there the bridge is not so long to Gichin and Gigo place in history. Father used the older system while his son Gigo created a new one with influnces from the kendo/samurai principles. Also Gigos Tode was more closly related to Azato's influences.

    So therefore i think it's fair to say: Matsumura incorperated the new teachings into his own and the principles of big movements.
    In Kase-ha we use these principles, i'm sure they are used in other styles as well. But not the way we have incorperated the Kaisho-waza techniques (open hand) with influences from the Jigen-ryu. So we have an samurai karate and not an jujutsu way but both are possible in one....

    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  6. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

  7. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    Lol what i see when people is getting older is that the movements are getting smaller and the stances are getting higher. :)

    Good link but it's only the scientifical explanation which is only the half story. There is nothing about how to create innerstrenght,
    how you create more pressure from tanden/hara, how your spirit will be used so that you can apply also this into the strikes.

    If you only follow scientific studies then the training will only become a physcial experience. Also your physcial abilities will become
    your limit.

    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  8. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    but on the other side of the argument, you might fall into the trap of oversimplifying physics when they are stupidly complex, and end up defining things erroneously :).

    also, you can never have enough science :evil:
  9. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Smaller movements only work if they become faster (e.g. more internal circles but each circle is much faster). Higher stances only better if more relaxed, natural, and fluid.

    You learned all this from bunkai?

    Nice statement, I agree.
  10. GaryWado

    GaryWado Tired

    Hi Guys,

    Sorry if it seemed like I abandoned this post - been hugely tied up with work.

    I've got to admit the Jigen Ryu and Matsumara connection made my left eyebrow raise (in a Roger Moore stylie).

    I'm not a Shoto-ka so can't comment with authority, but training Koryu Bujutsu (Jujutsu and Kenjutsu) has made me realise that there are significantly different things going on - compared to Karate.

    Through its creator; it could be argued that Wado-ryu has the closest connection to Koryu Jujutsu/Kenjutsu than any other Karate style, and yet through experience of training in both, I find the connection / parallels between them are not that apparent.

    They are there - don't get me wrong, but I tend to agree with Mike when he says that the reasons for the large "Jigen-ryu esque" movements in Shoto have probably more to do with later influences.

    But you are right about other aspect of training kata that you mention - correct movement, tanden, mental strength etc.

    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  11. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    The later influences of Jigen-ryu techniques was incorperated by Taiji Kase into his form of Shotokan but the orgins are far older than that. Some of the principals was forgotton by the major organisations. But i'm sure they still alive in Shotokai. But the Kaisho-waza we study is by Kase. Looking at Kendo vids you can learn some...

    Well anyway the thread was about bunkai and i tryied to describe why our bunkai seems odd due to O-waza techniques. Now it's all gone into explaining jujutsu techniques instead. It's easier for people to understand since there is no patience nor stamina. We want to now everything rightaboutnow.

    I quote Gary:
    Sorry if it seems like an odd question but as I say, the recent thread I have read really makes me raise my eyebrows and - quite frankly makes me wonder if people actually wish they were doing jujutsu or judo rather than karate?

    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  12. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

  13. GaryWado

    GaryWado Tired

    Yes, this thread has meandered a little and I do appreciate your point of view.

  14. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    I agree it's important. But not all can be explained yet. But i hope it will!:hat:
  15. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Hi Kodama

    I don't question that Matsumura may have been influenced in some way by Jigen Ryu. What I question is that he took this principle of 'big movements'. There are still in existence traditions that are much closer to Matsumura's than the modern Japanese Karate styles are. There are even systems that, as far as I can tell, bypassed Itosu's influence. Without exception these tend towards smaller undemonstrative movements, not big ones. Its a hallmark of authentic Shorin Ryu.

    As an aside, I seem to recall reading (I can't remember where to be honest) that someone checked out the historical records of Jigen Ryu and couldn't actually find any evidence that he trained in the ryuha at all. I don't claim to know the truth of this either way to be perfectly honest. But I do know that travel within the Satsuma province was extremely tightly regulated in the 19th century, even by feudal Japanese standards. If you didn't have the right paperwork you didn't travel anywhere. Casting doubt on Matsumura visiting Satsuma and training in Jigen Ryu? Perhaps, but given his official position in the Okinawan government it is possible that he gained the necessary travel rights.

  16. 6footgeek

    6footgeek Meow

    I know its kind of a noob question, but eastern Katas and forms were made as i believe, to be a dictionary of various techniques that Worked back in the old days... so why in the modern world can no one accurately read these dictionaries, why have we forgotten bunkai and for the most part, seem to bbe fumbling about with kata and have it be for most schools just a chore that needs to be done for the next grading?
  17. Llamageddon

    Llamageddon MAP's weird cousin Supporter

    Mainly syllabus, time constraints in the modern world, Chinese whispers, and the development of martial sports etc
  18. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    We don't claim he took it and only to be used by him, maybe i explained it wrong. Sorry my english is not my native tounge.

    Surly the big movements was there before Matsumura but in our lineage (Matsumura -> Azato -> Gigo -> Kase -> Today) we belive it arrives from him.

    During that time as you stated it was almost impossible to travel around. But wasen't Bushi the Kings bodyguard. During the kings trips around he followed with him and came in contact with Jigen in Satsuma or was he maybe granted to travel there to study for a short period of time who knows?

    It's just an influence not an trademark. I'm sure that in your style you have been influenced by other styles.

    I'm sure there are many styles that have the same principles and can feel the same influences.



    There is of course many differen't lineage.
  19. Kodama

    Kodama Valued Member

    Well maybe there it not so many qualifyied teachers? If so then find a new one, sadly the don't grow on three's...
  20. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't the satsuma conquer okinawa?

    maybe that's how matsumura could have gotten in touch with a satsuma MA teacher, rather than going to the clan's native territory.

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