Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bunkai in competition? can this be possible?

Tanaka sensei instructs bunkai

For quite some time now the World Karate Federation (WKF) has in its male and female team kata competition a format where first the solo performance of the kata is shown and then some of the bunkai applications of that kata as derived by the indivdual team performing the kata are applied and showcased.

Thereby scoring points for the solo performance and then scoring points for the bunkai applications to give an overall score of the performance.

Even though some traditional karateka think the bunkai portion is a waste of time and just a mere show, I like it and think it's a good thing to have both at your club and in competition as a starting point or gateway to Bunkai.

Is this format a show? well yes it is.

Has it got theatrics? well yes it has, maybe even a touch of hollywood about it.

Is it designed to please judges and spectators? I think so.


Does it get the student thinking about kata?

Yes it does in my opinion.

Never the less as a STARTING POINT in the BREAK DOWN of KATA BUNKAI I think its quite good.

To all the karateka who are against this type of competition what I want to ask you is do you do bunkai at your club?, and have you ever thought more about your kata past the solo peformance for grading? and also where do you start from when it comes to bunkai?

At the very least this will get the student thinking about kata on a deeper level than just an indivdual (solo) performance that has to be learned and performed for the next belt or grading,

Commiting the solo performance of kata movements to memory without kata applications in mind doesn't really achieve much more than an aerobic work out.

Also at these competitions the crowds would generally be non martial artists family and friends, so if you were to showcase oyo (applications) for the real world just how exciting would it be for them?.

It certainely wouldn't have the clarity of the these bunkai movements and in general would be very scrappy in appearance compared to this type of performance, maybe making it a little boring as a spectator sport.

So in my opinion this kata format which is one way of exploring kata, is good for competition and to showcase kata to the general public, as long as it is explored even further for self defence applications in the real world I dont see anything wrong with it.

In my opinion i think in the first instance (starting point) of introducing the break down of the kata bunkai to the student it is a great tool to use, then as the students progresses to a deeper understanding of the movements the student can transcend into his own bunkai interpretations and oyo.

This way at the start or begining of exploring and learning bunkai, the student will see alot of the techniques as what they may initially appear to be within the solo form with some small deviations.

If you go straight into effective applications (oyo) and bypass the bunkai stage this could confuse the student, who might start to ask, well how did you get from here to there?.

This type of kata study-format beats learning and memorising the solo performance of a kata for grading without any second thought to the knowledge of kata applications, hands down.

As long as the kata performances in this type of format don't get so exagerated that the movements no longer have any relationship to the original movements of the kata i think its great.

In my opinion its agreat tool to be used in introducing bunkai to the student not so much the theatrics and show, but rather the application of technique and the underlying principles .

This way when the student grades to the next level, he not only has to perform the kata in the solo version but has to show applied techniques from the kata against different types of attacks with a partner.

For example right from the start of one's karate training, a 9th kyu going for 8th kyu and studying heian shodan, with alittle guidance from the instructor.

The student should be able to demonstrate the applied movements of the kata heian shodan in partner drills, this would be prefered to having the kata commited to memory as nothing more than a solo dance routine.

This can only be beneficial to any student of karate-do.

Some competition examples below.

Team Bunkai ANAN - Female Japan National Team

Italian Men's Team Kata_Gankaku + Bunkai @ 2007 WKF worldchampionships

French Men's Team Kata_Gojushiho Sho + Bunkai WKF 2006 Finals

Japan Women's Team Kata_Annan + Bunkai  WKF World Karate Championships 2006