Bunkai/Hidden techniques - Split from "How Do I Quit"

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by lklawson, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    The Boar Man wrote:

    I need to make something very clear here. I am not concerned with "styles" or methods, or teachers, or cross-training, or influences. I am only concerned with kata, those of likely Chinese origin. I have not been discussing the "ti" that Okinawans used in fighting, nor in the Hojo undo of Okinawa, the makiwara training, nor the complex kobudo of staff and two handed weapons, nor the free sparring addition to karate by the Japanese. I am interested soley in kata. The historical record points to Chinese origin of the kata. How the Okinawans organized the various kata into various styles, and what other training became part of various systems, is in my view irrelevant to the issue of the origins and purpose of the kata we have today. We do have an inventory of kata that are documented by old masters as being of Chinese origin. We can look at those movements today, and determine if there are military uses of the movements.

    In addition, posters here can argue over whether this source, or that source, means this, or means that.

    Let me state this again. This is what has been handed down.

    1. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Okinawans sent convoys of tribute vessels 450 nautical miles to Fuzhou in China every two years. These were laden with valuable cargo on both journeys. They remained at port for up to 6-9 months. They were sailing vessels, and needed to wait until the trade winds of the South China sea went through there annual change (SW from May to August and NE from November to March).

    2. In 1719, 1757, 1800 and 1866, the Chinese sent Investiture missions to Okinawa. These missions included hundreds of military personnel as escorts.

    3. There are thousands of islands off the coast of China that provided harbor to scores of thousands of pirates. One band was documented in 1805 as having 2000 vessels and 70,000 men. There were many smaller bands. Pirate ships would surround a sailing vessel, launch sulfur bombs to burn the sails, and begin attack with other artillery (arrows were common).

    4. The Okinawans lost several vessels to pirates and bad weather. It was a national priority to protect these vessels.

    5. Funakoshi documents four military men, as well as a sailor, as having taught combative arts to Okinawans.

    6. Higaonna and Nakaima traveled to Fuzhou and received training in fighting arts. Both brought back kata. Sanseru and Seisan were brought back by both.

    7. Motobu states that 13 kata were of Chinese origin. Funakoshi writes that Jiin, Jitte, Chinto and Chinte were all taught by the shipwrecked Chinese sailor before he returned home.

    Based on that information above, we can ask some questions.

    1. Were the Chinese military authorities that accompanied these vessels across pirate infested waters skilled at training men in combating pirates? I believe many would answer yes.

    2. The Okinawans had formal tributary trade with China for 500 years. Should we believe that the Okinawans were skilled at thwarting pirate attacks? I believe many would answer yes.

    3. Was it in the Okinawans national interest in learning the best fighting techniques for thwarting pirate attacks to their vessels. I believe many would answer yes.

    4. Did the Okinawans have an opportuntity to learn current fighting methods while the Chinese ships were in port at Naha, and on occasion when their ships were docked at Fuzhou? I believe many would answer yes.

    Now we get to a different, but related question. Many of the histories, those from Funakoshi, especially, make references to Okinawa having no need for weapons. But that is clearly false. They had great need to defend their ships at sea with the weapons of the day (spears, primarily, but swords as well.) What can we make of this? I would argue that the histories were designed to mislead us. Funakoshi wasn't uninformed. It's true he was only ten years old when tribute missions were finally terminated by the Japanese, but this trade with China was a fundamental component of Okinawa's heritage. The Satsuma invaded Okinawa to tax them and to control their trade with China so that they could profit from it. The Okinawans maintained their privileged tributary status with China until the late 1870s. With that tribute trade came Chinese culture in the way of dress, literature, poetry, art, furniture, ceramics, and on and on.

    Those histories that state that Okinawans developed empty hand fighting because they could not carry weapons are telling only part of the story. The Okinawa elite still had a fundamental requirement to be able to successfully trade with China, and that meant every member of their biannual 300 strong delegations to China needed to have some competence in repelling attacks on their ships. Should they lose a ship, the people on that ship could be executed, or subjected to a brutal existence aboard a pirate vessel. They needed military techniques, armed techniques to ensure the success of these tribute missions.

    If you are willing to accept what I have stated above, then you also may have a simple question. If we take it as a given that the Okinawans had to have had military skill across a broad community, then the simple question is "what happened to it?" No spear arts appear to have survived.

    And therein lies the most interesting question.

    None "appear" to have survived? But is that truly the case?

    Which brings me to the fundamental question, one that I am surprised not more are interested in?

    For what purpose did Chinese military authorities, tasked with protecting their vessels from hostile takeovers at sea, teach Okinawans Kaishu kata (open hand kata)?

    There are millions out there who believe the only answer can be that these kind military men taught kata to enable the Okinawans to protect themselves without weapons on the rough and tumble streets of Shuri and Naha.
     
  2. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    Makalakumu wrote:

    There are a variety of ways to approach this issue. Let me try what I think might be the most fruitful way to share information on this topic.

    1. Can you think of any examples of movements in the kata that seem to defy use for empty hand fighting.

    2. If you look at those movements, does it seem inconceivable that you could propel a short light polearm with them.

    I think if we begin this way, we just might be able to have a productive discussion.

    It is not really my purpose here to debate the history. I believe it is clear. The history shows that there is a potential that these kata may have been, at least in part, designed to propel a short polearm. It is the actual examination of the movements in the kata that is important. I maintain that history we have been handed down is deficient. The Okinawans absolutely had a need for military (armed) skill. It was in their national security interests. At the very same time, they had a fundamental obligation to the Chinese who might have been motivated to help with the development of that skill.

    Those with military background can best appreciate this obligation to the Chinese, but even those without should recognize the basic need for protection of military information. What was the information needing protection? How the Chinese (and the Okinawans) would organize military responses to attacks on their ships. How would they fight? What techniques would they use? How would they fight in groups or teams? How would they train?

    Their armed capabilities required the greatest of secrecy, as does so much military information, throughout history, and certainly today.

    How could the Chinese hand down these capabilities such that it was not clear what they were, how they could be used.

    One potential answer is just so blindingly simple. You take the weapon out of your hands.

    If the Chinese elected to use this most simple of mechanisms, consider just how incredibly powerful it was. Here we are 150 years later. Millions have learned these kata, yet, it appears, millions have overlooked the potential that these movements can be used to propel a short polearm.

    So my question back to you remains. There must be some movements from some kata that perplex you, that you look at and don't understand how it could be used for empty hand fighting. Look at those movements again with another simple question. If you held at one end, a short light polearm (certainly no taller than you), could you utilize the movements to propel it?

    This is the discussion I want to have. I don't want to debate with people the effectiveness of using a polearm in a movement as compared to the effectiveness of using that same movement in a good fighting sequence. There are plenty of kata movements that work remarkably well in fighting. That is not my goal. Rather, I want to engage those that are frustrated with certain moves, kata sequences that seem unrelated to fighting. Moreover, I want those that are interested in looking further to try out this simple concept. What happens when you pick up a broomstick, hold it at one end, and try to use kata movements to propel it. Can it be done?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  3. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2003
    Messages:
    13,887
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Location:
    Hawaii
    I'd love to see a basic tutorial from a basic kata of what you are talking about. Break it down and let's analyze it. There are plenty of existent Chinese martial arts systems to compare it to and perhaps gain further understanding. Grab a camera and a couple of students and go for it!
     
  4. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,193
    Likes Received:
    1,221
    Trophy Points:
    248
    Location:
    Australia
    I have followed the discussion with great interest but I do disagree with a lot of the 'facts'. I don't believe the Okinawans were taught by Chinese military. In fact I would go even further and say that with a couple of documemented examples, the Chinese taught very little to the Okinawans. The exception may have been the guards and garrison at Shuri Castle. But even then, why would they have taught kata? Even now, if you want to learn self defence, or even MMA, you wouldn't dream of learning kata. Why did the Okinawan masters spend years teaching just one kata to a student before they may have moved on to another kata?

    Could he kata be used for weapons? Possibly, but why wouldn't you learn a specific weapon kata like the jo kata we learn in aikido? Why wouldn't there be some historical evidence to show that the kata had been used that way?

    Questions were asked as to whether the kata came from China or were they developed in Okinawa? The origins are in the main Chinese, especially in Goju Ryu. But that is all academic. Regardless of he origin, kata are more than just a collection of techniques although at beginner level that would appear to be the case. In fact, kata taught without a deep understanding of the application, is just that, a collection of techniques. You can look at YouTube and see very highly ranked practitioners demonstrating children's applications. It is no wonder that people can say you can't use kata in a fight because all they see is BS application that could/would get you killed.

    But, what brought me back into the discussion was the question relating to movements that perplex. I have just spent more than 3 months mulling over one particular move in Kururunfa kata. Eventually I have settled on two applications, one a take down, the other an arm bar. To get to my current understanding I was working from the previous move and looking at the following move as the fail safe. I looked at hours of video with some of the world's top karate-ka demonstrating bunkai and they all either ignore the technique completely or use an 'obvious' explanation that you would never use is a live situation. I have asked every high ranking karate-ka I know about that particular move and none had more than the most unlikely, basic explanation. So, certainly I could have reached for my trusty broomstick but with hindsight I think I made the right decision to pursue the empty hand option.

    Now, have I identified 'hidden' truths of kata or have I perhaps found two of several applications that would have been handed down from father to son in the family fighting system back in China two hundred years ago but never made it to Okinawa? :asian:
     
  5. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    K-Man wrote:


    Anyone here can believe anything they like. I provided references from numerous sources regarding the role of Chinese military providing instruction to Okinawans. I think it would be helpful to me to have you specifically state which sources you disagree with.

    I have presented historical information that states Chinese men, some in the military, taught the Okinawans kata. It you want to disagree with the statements of Funakoshi, the historical record of Higashionna and Nakaima, the statements of Motobu, Nakama and Nagamine, feel free. The record shows the Chinese taught Okinawans kata. You can believe what you like. As noted above, you might want to post here on which specific sources you disagree with.

    K-Man wrote:

    There are two answers to this. One is that everything was handed down in secret. So if this translation was not typically handed down with the kata, then we could attribute that to secrecy.

    Second, we do have abundant historical evidence to show that the kata can be used that way. We have the kata. They are historical records. Whether or not we choose to study the kata to determine if the movements can propel a short polearm is up to each student of the art.

    K-Man wrote:
    I agree that the historical record shows that kata, with a few exceptions, are Chinese in origin. I would also agree that kata are more than just a collection of techniques. I believe they were designed to be used, as is, in combat.

    I have looked at a great deal on youtube. And I find much of it lacking. That leads to another question, “why is it lacking?” One answer is that all the good stuff has been kept secret. Another answer could be that for some movements, there just aren’t ways to map them to effective empty hand fighting.

    K-Man wrote:


    This statement reveals a lot about the way in which kata have been handed down. In most translations of Itosu’s sixth lesson of toudi, he states that it is up to the student to figure out how to use movements. There are many on this forum, and others that argue that is what they have been taught, you have to figure it all out for yourself.

    When I step back and think about that approach to learning how to defend one’s self against a dangerous attack, I find it quite odd indeed. If one goes to an Aikido, Aikido, Jujutsu school, one immediately begins learning applications. Kata are in support of applications. In boxing and Muay Thai schools, one immediately begins learning applications, how to hit in combinations and how to combine those multiple strike movements with parries, evasions, etc. Same with Indonesian and PMA systems. Same with western fencing. Same with wrestling. You learn the fighting sequences by practicing them with others, in application. Where there are kata, they are secondary.

    How does that compare to schools that teach forms and kata. One learns the forms/kata, whether in a Chinese TMA or a karate school, and maybe, just maybe, one will be shown useful fighting applications for some of the movements. In karate schools, it is a given that in part, it is up to the student to “figure stuff out”. While that may make sense to some, I find it simply astounding that one is expected to practice kata, and then “go figure out” how to use the movements so that they could be effectively applied when their life is on the line. That is just not the way that fighting instruction is done in other systems.

    There’s an important point that needs to be made here. I am not arguing, and never have, that Okinawan kata movements can’t be used for empty hand fighting. There are all sorts of movements that lend themselves to useful fighting sequences.

    Rather, I look at the body of kata, as a whole, and wonder why there are so many sequences that have been handed down, with no apparent use in empty hand fighting.

    If you are successful in fully decoding all the movements from all the goju kata you have learned, and others as well, more power to you. My goal is not to convince those that are satisfied with what they have and what they have been taught. Rather, I am seeking out those that have been frustrated. If none are here, we don’t need to take this any further. I imagine that there are karateka here and there that have not been all that happy with the application they have been taught. This thread and numerous others on this and other forums is a testament to that.

     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  6. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    Makalakumu wrote:


    I have stated that it is my contention that movements in kata should be explored to determine if they had a military heritage. I specifically described the military challenge that faced the Okinawans, the protection of their tribute vessels from hostile attacks. That environment dictates a set of requirements for the weapons useful in defending it.

    In Western naval defense, navymen chose to use cutlasses because their short length was more effective in the restrictive environments on a ship.

    We do have evidence that the Chinese used spears in defense of their ships. We should expect that in naval defense that short maneuverable spears would have a big advantage over long spears. We should expect them to be short, no taller than the navyman, preferably a bit shorter. The key design point is that we should expect a short polearm that could be light enough that it could be wielded by holding it at the end. Bamboo was a standard wood used for spears at the time, and it's light weight would give the sailor the ability to wield it from one end.

    There is a basic challenge in looking at "existent Chinese martial arts systems" for comparison. There isn't all that much emphasis on short polearms in Chinese systems today. There is the cudgel ("gun") that is found in numerous gun-shu forms which are much like wushu but with a polearm. But even the gun-shu students prefer a longer staff for competition. Rather, Chinese systems generally utilize long polearms 6, 7 feet and longer. These cannot be held at one end, and therefore a broad range of technique is simply unavailable to them. Once you move to a short enough polearm that can be wielded like a baseball bat, which can be swung from one end, a vast set of fighting sequences suddenly becomes available. For those weapons that must be held in the middle, these sequences are simply unavailable. It's important to note that the basic polearm of the Ryukyu kingdom, the rokushaku bo, was significantly longer than the height of the men of the time. It is a 6 foot pole, wielded by men that were commonly less than five and a half feet. Plus, it had no blade. That is not to say that longer polearms were not useful in any aspect of naval defense. They could be thrown, like javelins. But they could not be effectively wielded at one end. We should consider a polearm that is held at one end.

    I am here to share. I have ideas on ways to move forward with this discussion for those interested. In light of that, I am uncertain that it is best to begin analysis with a "basic" kata. In fact, I don't think it best to start with an entire kata at all. Rather, I would you pick the movements from one or more kata that you think don't seem to map to empty hand fighting. All you have to do is provide the youtube link with the starting time and ending time of the sequences you are referring to. And in addition, tell me whether they look like the movements could might be able to propel a polearm. That's all I am asking. We can take this one step at a time. There are lots of kata, and many, many sequences. Let's start with a few short steps first. The destination may well be worth the journey.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  7. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2003
    Messages:
    13,887
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Location:
    Hawaii
    That's all I'm saying. Grab a couple of students, show a movement, grab a sword or a polearm, and go to town on film so we can get a real idea of what you are talking about. It would really help to see some practical examples.
     
  8. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Messages:
    3,525
    Likes Received:
    578
    Trophy Points:
    248
    Food for thought. In the last issue of Classical Fighting Arts, there is an article/interview done about one of Chotoku Kyan's students. In the interview, he talks about how Kyan had two teaching methods, one for his close personal and private students that he taught at his own home, and the public version he taught in schools.

    A couple of the moves he mentioned that were different applications were from Chinto and Kusanku, both of these katas are attributed to Chinese influences. In Chinto, at the beginning when you bring your hands together and then kind of rotate them around each other before the double punch. It was taught that this was a move if your hands had been bound to loosen the rope (it was explained that okinawan rope was very fibrous and this would stretch and loosen it enough to get your hand out to punch). The other was a move from Kusanku that had you move your hand above and over your head. This move was designed to grab the sharp hair pin that okinawan men wore in their hair. Other applications included learning how to fight in the dark and the movements in the kata weren't strikes, but searching movements for the attacker in the dark.

    If someone were to suggest these types of things now, many people would disregard them as fanciful and missing the point of the bunkai, but here we have one of the karate greats (Chotoku Kyan) telling us that exact thing.
     
  9. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    I wrote:

    The Boar Man wrote:

    I do take issue with your first statement. I have not made sweeping statements "those that do these things are wrong." I maintain that some kata movements do lend themselves quite well to good fighting techniques. I have stated that the secret origins of kata should lead us to consider alternatives as to the purpose of their origin. But when karateka find good fighting sequences in kata, that's good, and in no way wrong.

    We have been handed down empty hand kata, and we are tasked at studying the kata so that it may reveal meaningful application for empty hand fighting. And there is plenty of it. You bring up a series of individuals who have looked at some movements from some kata and have provided us with useful movements for empty hand fighting.


    However, I stand by the statements above, and in fact you make a point for me. Or rather you make Oyata’s point. He claims that the sequences of movements were not designed to be used in sequence.

    I am not arguing that there is anything wrong with Oyata's approach of taking a bit here, adding a bit there and coming up with good fighting sequences. Our goal is to develop good sequences, and if that is a way to do it, then we are better for it.

    I am familiar with Oyata's idea here. He has used an analogy of "the alphabet" to describe it. A kata will have a sequence of movements, a, b, c, d, e, etc. Together, this sequence of letters doesn't spell anything useful. But from these letters, you can create lots of words, "mini-books" as you stated. I agree with the former, but not with the latter. I believe that in addition to Oyata's "recombination" theory of kata, that indeed, sequences are designed to be used, as they appear. In fact, in my view, the notion that the kata were not designed to be used, as is, is something that I really find quite odd.

    I like to use the term “directional sequence”. The kata have all of these sequences forward that consist of several steps (stances), with associated hand movements. For example, in Heian Shodan (Pinan Nidan) there are two sets of four step sequences in front stance. These sequences cover about ten feet. And it is this distance that sequences cover that make it so difficult to find applications for them because this distance doesn’t map to way empty hand fighting occurs. The obvious challenge here is in the defensive art of empty hand fighting, there is an opponent an arm's distance away. He is physically blocking the the way of your four step forward path.

    So how do karateka get around this massive hurdle of interpretation? Well one way is to have the attacker retreat while the defender charges forward. This is common in early Shotokan Heian applications.

    You can find that same approach in this Matsubayashi Kusanku sequence (1:50) I think many would find that this kind of application doesn't really map to empty hand fighting.

    Another approach, more common today, (I would argue to better map application to actual fighting) is to utilize a portion of the sequence only, and ignore the remainder of it. One way is to utilize the beginning movements, ignore the ends of the sequence. For a good set of examples, you can that is a common approach in these Shito Ryu Pinan applications.

    If a forward sequence is too long, you can remove the beginning as well. We find that approach in Higaonna's 1980s video of Gekki sai bunkai. In the first sequence of this video, the initial stance/block in the sequence is removed, leaving a useful application for the remainder of the sequence.

    One can also extract a useful movement out of the middle as well. In this instance we can look at Higaonna's first movement in his Seisan video. He extracts a only a small part of the full sequence for his application.

    Again, this is all good. I like this approach. If you can't use the entire sequence, make some use of a portion. That is half of Oyata's claim. In addition to his teachings that applications are built up from portions of different sequences, he has, IMO, made a more interesting claim. He has readily stated that the lengthier sequences of movements (such as those that walk forward four steps) were simply not intended to be used in the order they appear. That's the part I find perplexing. I do agree that many of these longer directional sequences do not map to empty hand fighting. But I just can't bring myself to believe that these Chinese men were passing down, in great secrecy, movements that could not be used in the way they appear in kata, that the only way to apply them was to pull them apart and reassemble them to make use of them. I just find that method of teaching bewildering.

    This is not the first time I have ventured out to these forums to discuss these ideas. My experience in the past has been that in these kinds of discussions, posters take issue at my ideas and say they have no merit (that's the polite version). No problem there. But during this back and forth of whether there are indeed meaningful uses of movements of forward sequences, one thing that seems never to happen are links documenting the utility of forward sequences, used in their entirety. Rather, references are made to Oyata, Anessi and Abernethy and how they have provided the answers. So
    I am glad you brought up these three. First regarding Oyata, there is very little video of him on youtube. He wouldn't permit it. Regardinging Abernethy and Anessi, it's important to first note that these individuals did not publish applications that were handed down to them by with the kata that they learned. Abernethy, from what I know, has a jujutsu (grappling) background, and Anessi has an aikjutsu (grappling) background. Rather, they have applied their grappling knowledge to kata for a significant amount of what they teach. Once again, I must state the caveat that this is all good. We are all trying to make use of these bewildering forms. But the notion that 150 years and more after these kata were taught, we finally have the answers because of these two persons applied their training from completely separate Japanese grappling arts, well I find that answer unsatisfying.

    There is another comment worth making here. When you choose to point to techniques of Anessi and Abernethy, you choose to point to concepts that are behind a paywall.
    In Jujutsu, in Aikido, in PMA, in numerous Chinese arts, in Iaido, in Naginata, in western boxing, in western wrestling, in modern fencing, in all manner of traditional and modern fighting systems, there is freely available information on youtube. Why is it that the only sources that are referenced regarding the “true” aka “non-children’s, bunkai are behind a paywall so groups of interested individuals can’t debate their merits in a public forum. Just how well do the applications taught by these two map to sequences found in kata. We can't see for ourselves.

    And let's not forget we do have numerous youtube videos of Okinawans doing bunkai. If the Okinawans passed down useful bunkai for some of the more complex sequences, or those that have hand and feet motions that don't appear to map to empty hand fighting, posters should be able to reference those videos support the frequent claims that the kata are “nothing but textbooks of great fighting”.

    One last point. I have been discussing these ideas for some time, and I fully recognize that, at least to some, they are threatening. Karate has been handed down as an "empty hand" art, for empty hand fighting. Many posters have long training in kata and have fully internalized their value in empty hand fighting. This novel idea that I have proposed, that the origins of kata could have been military is potentially unsettling. I get it.

    But it should also be noted that I intend to take this conversation forward. The historical evidence is clear enough that we should at least consider examining the kata for use as military arts. Going forward, I intend to focus more on kata movements, and I am hopeful that posters will recognize there is no harm in doing so.

    I have not come here to attempt to convince anyone that their view of the karate is wrong. Everybody is entitled to their own views. But I have begun down a path I find quite fruitful, and I am seeking only those that are unsatisfied, that are unconvinced about what they have been taught. The only thing that will convince them is their own experience. I am looking to share in a productive way, how these forms can be evaluated for use with a polearm.

    There's no harm in trying. If the evidence is unconvincing, then people will ignore it. If it is convincing, that some may gain benefit.

     
  10. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    I wrote:

    Makalakumu wrote:

    My apologies for being less than clear. I am interested in karateka who would like to explore the meanings of movements that they are frustrated by. I am interested in helping those who have found the bunkai they have been shown, in class, and elsewhere, to be unconvincing.

    I have not come here to just demonstrate random movements, and random kata. My instruction is conditional upon input from those interested in these ideas, as they relate to specific kata movements. If none are interested in specific movements, that's fine with me. I know I gave it a shot.

    So my question to you Makalakumu is whether you believe that you have good useful application for all movements in all the kata you know, or are interested in. And if you don't, why not share those sequences that you find confusing. If you don't want to do it on this forum, you can send me a pm, and we can proceed from there.

    All I am requesting is that I be given youtube links to those kata, and the time periods that the sequences occur, and we can start from there.
     
  11. Guy Preston

    Guy Preston Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Farnham, Surrey, UK
    Apologies if I've got this wrong, as I have little to no practical TSD experience, and also for the late point, have only just seen this and was reading some of the ideas for this...

    But to me the defence from a sword cut just doesn't fit...

    I understand the moving forward and jamming, etc.. It's the 'winding up' or 'chambering' movement that's out of place for me...

    Anyone seen an experienced swordsman cut from daijoden? Blink and you'll miss the entire cut!!

    To have any chance of defending against a cut like this you need to be in and jam them in a split second, 'chamber' or 'wind up' as was described earlier in this thread and to my reckoning you just got cut in half...

    in kata I've practiced there is no time for wind up, either jam immediately, or attack something immediately, either way the forward movement is instant..
     
  12. rframe

    rframe Green Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    USA
    I see nothing unusual about looking at kata as simple patterns for training exercises and not as a complete fight story. The former makes much more sense. They are tools to practice combinations and movement, in my view forcing them to be some complete story from first to last sequence is silly and was never the intent.
     
  13. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    Ninniku Dojo wrote:

    I don't know if you are referencing something that I wrote, but since I am the only one arguing that the historical evidence suggests we consider that kata might have been designed for military purposes, I would imagine you are.

    Every two years in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Okinawans sent convoys of hundreds of men and valuable cargo to Fuzhou across an area that had significant pirate activity. They needed military (armed) methods to defend these ships. Yet the standard histories all claim that Okinawa had no use for weapons.

    The Chinese also sent investiture convoys to the Ryukyu kingdom in 1719, 1757, 1800 and 1866. These were staffed with hundreds of soldiers for protection.

    Funakoshi names four military attaches who instructed Okinawans in combative arts. If that is a correct statement, I ask why.

    The answer for that would not be so that the Okinawans could use their empty hands to defend against armed attacks. That is certain. But an answer could be that the Chinese were providing to the Okinawans methods to defend their ships from armed attacks. If we assume that Funakoshi, and others, were correct in that Chinese military men had a role in training Okinawans in fighting arts, and that Okinawans needed armed combative capabilities to thwart pirate attacks, then a simple question arises. What happened to these military arts that the Chinese military personnel taught to Okinawans.

    And the answer to that is different depending on your perspective. You can have a perspective that there Funakoshi was wrong, that there was no military role in the instruction of Okinawans. But if you assume that he was correct, then that leads pretty much to two conclusiions. The first is that the arts were so secret that they did not survive until the present time.

    But there is another conclusion. We have a fairly extensive family of movements that are documented as having been taught by Chinese men. Funakoshi attributes four kata to a Chinese sailor. Wansu is attributed to another military man. We have Kusanku kata, and Funakoshi names him as a military attachee. These kata were all taught in the utmost secrecy, just the way one would military information to be transmitted.

    I believe this evidence begs a question.

    Why did Chinese military authorities, tasked with protecting Chinese dignitaries on the high seas, choose to teach the Kaishu (open hand) kata that have survived until today. What was their motivation. Did the only have a goal of giving the Okinawans that they instructed the means to ensure their own personal safety on land in Okinawa? Or did they provide them with the capabilities, hidden within the kata, of successfully challenging armed attacks against attacks to their bi-annual trade missions to China?

    With this question in mind, we can look at the kata and evaluate the movements to determine whether they can be used to propel a short polearm, the weapon of choice for the Chinese at sea.
     
  14. Guy Preston

    Guy Preston Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Farnham, Surrey, UK
    Actually no, I wasn't referencing anything you wrote..

    I made a rookie mistake, and was reading the first page, thinking it was the last, so actually referencing something said on the first page specifically about Japanese kata and defending from a sword cut...

    my bad!!...
     
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    12,973
    Likes Received:
    2,543
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Regarding the bolded portion, perhaps you are referring to something different than I am about to describe so feel free to clarify, but I find these statements to be untrue. My Chinese staff forms make extensive use of the staff from one end. One of my forms is exclusively that, keeping the grip at the one end and not switching to the other. My other set switches from one end to the other, but the strikes are always done from one end. We do not hold the staff in the middle. Perhaps you are referring to a single-handed grip? If so, that's a different thing. But we use a double handed grip on one end of the staff, and use the full length of the staff for combative techniques. And there is a rich supply of techniques that can be used that way.

    I also have some anecdotal evidence for you. My sifu delights in pointing out similarities between our empty hand forms and techniques, and our weapons forms and techniques. He will often take a movement from our weapons forms, be it staff, spear, dao, gim, butterfly swords, etc., and show how the same movement can be done empty handed and translates cleanly into an empty hand technique or combination. It's often just a very minor modification of the movement to translate from weapon to empty hand. When you know what to look for and are familiar with the weapon, you will see a lot of overlap. Not 100%, but more than you might think possible.
     
  16. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    rframe wrote:

    One can slice and dice the kata into very short sequences, a block, a strike. Or one can slice and dice the kata into longer sequences. If a kata goes in eight directions, then there could be eight sequences.

    It's easy for just about anyone to pick a random block out of the kata, use it, add a punch, perhaps a takedown, and say that is the bunkai. I, and I believe others, aren't so convinced. I believe that the sequences of movements that appear as they are in the kata, should, in large part, be able to be used as they appear, and not pulled apart into basic units of single arm movements.

    So I ask for links. If you have something that you are aware of online that helps support your point, by all means, please provide the link. Without examples, we are just arguing semantics.
     
  17. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    I wrote:
    Flying Crane wrote:

    Thank you for pointing out that I was unclear in my description. I had some of the information that needed to be considered (in bold) but my wording was incomplete. Let me try again:

    These long Chinese spears cannot be held at one end and be effectively wielded like a baseball bat. The longer polearm's increased air resistance coupled with a reduction in leverage (both relative to a short polearm), make it nearly impossible to propel the blade quickly in a plane parallel to the ground, at torso height, traveling from one shoulder to the next. Rather, what we see is that for this kind of movement, the end is more plodding. I agree with you that there is a "rich supply of techniques" that can be used for the traditional longer Chinese polearms that are held at the end. But what is rare in these arts, especially with the seven foot weapons, is where the polearm is held at the end and swung horizontally in complete movements from side to side.

    We find this same principle with the six foot rokushaku bo, when yielded by people 5 and a half feet tall. It is very rare to find techniques with this kind of movement. There is always the exception that proves the rule. The Isshin Ryu Tokumine No Kun (1:55) does have this horizontal swing. However, neither the Shorinji-ryu nor the Seibukan systems appear not to have it. And even the Isshin ryu movement contains only the first half of the full swing. The staff does not cross the body, but could, if continued.

    What we find is the length of long Chinese polearms does inhibit, to various extents, a whole series of additional movements and associated combinations that can be performed with great speed with a polearm short enough to be propelled like a baseball bat.

    I would be grateful if you could provide links to one or more online forms from your art, or something similar, so I could better describe the limitations I am discussing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  18. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    12,973
    Likes Received:
    2,543
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Unfortunately there is little online of my system that is of any value at all. I've not seen any that I felt was quality, it's all quite sloppy and I don't recall seeing any of the staff or spear online anywhere.
     
  19. rframe

    rframe Green Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Messages:
    161
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    USA
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  20. Cayuga Karate

    Cayuga Karate Orange Belt

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Ithaca, New York - USA
    Thanks for providing this link. I would like to make a number of observations.


    1. Kudos to Mr. Abernethy for his efforts to provide useful applications.
    2. I do not want this to appear like I am in any way minimizing the potential use of this concept he is teaching while I dissect it.

    First, I have repeatedly noted that the long sequences of three and four steps forward are those that provide the greatest obstacles to being used for application. The attacker is at arm's distance and clearly in your way. This sequence has Iain using the opening movements, side to side, of Heian Shodan. There is only one step forward from the initial stance. If one compares this to the latter half of Heian Shodan, there is a forward movement with a downward block, followed by a forward strike, followed by two more strikes, each in a long stance forward. Iain does not begin by stepping forward, he steps back (3:03). This is a minor change, but helps illustrate the profound difficulty of making these long stance forward line up with an attacker already at arm's distance.

    The next small issue I have with this technique is the degree which it would be effective against a bigger attacker. While the attacker is taller than Iain, he clearly is a lot lighter. The problem here is that empty hand attacks most likely come from those heavier, or if not heavier, taller. That is the nature of fighting. Bigger people tend to pick on smaller people. This is not universal, but it is widely prevalent. I would argue that the strike to the neck that Iain does at 3:12, an the takedown he does at 3:49 (and after) would be near impossible against a larger attacker. Iain pulls on the arm of the attacker and he folds over with the advantage to Iain of the target on the back of the neck, and the ability to wrap around the neck and secure the opponent. This is no trivial task when the opponent is heavier person, or one of near the same weight and taller, and resisting. And the key is resisting.

    Finally, I would argue that this karate movement is based on a non-threatening attack and that this somewhat of a problem. The two are arm to arm. This is not a strike to the head that snaps back. The key is that when the arms are in contact, one can initiate the start of the movement, the grab, with far greater ease than if the attacker were throwing out a snapping strike. Those are near impossible to grab.

    I am glad you picked this movement. This movement that Iain demonstrates is not only a defense, but the standard attack used in many karate schools when practicing application. I believe that some if you might notice similarities between Iain's movement from 3:05 to 3:06, and Shimabukuro's Tokumine No Kun movement from :13 to :14. Moreover, Shimabukuro continues forward with two more movements which when combined with the first two, map surprisingly well to the four steps in rear in Heian Shodan. :)28 to :32)

    For those that practice bo kata, there are a number of kata with the first part of this sequence. This bo versus bo clip shows this kind of attack repeatedly. It is most vivid at :29-:30.

    Throughout this thread, I have been arguing that the historical record provides enough hints that we should consider evaluating kata movements to determine their utility in effectively propelling a short polearm. I am grateful that a technique was picked for analysis that so clearly can be readily transformed into the most basic of polearm techniques.

    One last note. I do not mean to infer, in any way that the short polearm these kata might be able to propel is the length and weight of the rokkushaku bo. It would be shorter, lighter, bladed, and held at one end. But there should be no doubt that movements that can be used to propel long polearms also can propel short ones as well.123
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
anessi seinchin
,

bunkai against sword

,
content
,
ho geki ho karate techniques
,
jigen ryu analysis
,
the complicated relationships between funakoshi and motobu