Bunkai

Flying Crane

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I'm no swordsman but from what I know (shown to me by a koryu guy) if you don't have the grip you won't have the necessary support to keep the blade in front of you against another swordsman. You risk deviating, so you'll be cutting air and he'll be cutting you. Pretty big deal.

In aikido terms, it aligns your bones with the contact point, so you can use your bodyweight to move around it, which is the point of the techniques:


If you don't grip that way, there will be slack at the contact point and you will need an exponentially higher degree of force and/or movement to produce any effect. And your grip will generally be weaker and easier to escape.

Of course one shouldn't disregard angles completely, it would be stupid to try to throw the guy forward if he's unbalanced backwards. And yes there are optimal angles so it's a bonus when you hit them, just like pressure points (another not so important detail IMO). That said, the fingers with which you grip depend entirely on you, while the optimal angle of the throw (within a certain margin) depends on both your position and the opponent's and can vary a lot, and quickly. I think that you have more margin for error, as well as less control, but yeah it's important to a degree.
I have no training in Japanese sword methods, so very likely if I picked up a katana, my grip would be wrong for the method. However, I am sure I could still sever an enemys arm, or cut his torso in two. Could I hold up against an expert, or even mid-level trained person in Japanese sword? Hell no to the first and likely not to the second. So the details matter, but perhaps not always as much as we are lead to believe, because I am certain I can still sever an arm or cut a torso in half.

So I think what we can agree on is that within their respective arts, the details matter. That is, after all, what higher skill in the arts are built on. I think being dismissive of the details that one art holds as important, is making a mistake.
 

O'Malley

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I have no training in Japanese sword methods, so very likely if I picked up a katana, my grip would be wrong for the method. However, I am sure I could still sever an enemys arm, or cut his torso in two. Could I hold up against an expert, or even mid-level trained person in Japanese sword? Hell no to the first and likely not to the second. So the details matter, but perhaps not always as much as we are lead to believe, because I am certain I can still sever an arm or cut a torso in half.

So I think what we can agree on is that within their respective arts, the details matter. That is, after all, what higher skill in the arts are built on. I think being dismissive of the details that one art holds as important, is making a mistake.
Oh yeah I was speaking from an aikido perspective, wouldn't know about the other arts. The grip thing is considered as fundamental by authoritative teachers like Saito and Shioda (not to mention the daito ryu folks), and I agree with them because it makes sense.
 

Flying Crane

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Oh yeah I was speaking from an aikido perspective, wouldn't know about the other arts. The grip thing is considered as fundamental by authoritative teachers like Saito and Shioda (not to mention the daito ryu folks), and I agree with them because it makes sense.
Fair enough. My initial comments here were because it seemed to me there was criticism of the aikido demonstration that it was too complicated, when the art practiced by the one making the criticism can likewise be seen as overly complicated by any who are not educated on the topic. The pot calling the kettle black.

When these arts are understood with some context, it becomes clear that the details are most definitely important, in both cases.
 

geezer

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...So the details matter, but perhaps not always as much as we are lead to believe...
This ^^^^ is something we as traditional martial artists don't like to admit.

We know that details matter and that fine distinctions can make a very real difference. As martial artists we focus on mastery of the small things ....the subtleties and art of our training. I am reminded of the re-working of the old saying that "the devil is in the details" by the great 20th Century architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who famously said, God is in the details.

On the other hand if you look at full contact martial competition, mere functional competence combined with things like speed, power, explosiveness and determination will typically trump technical mastery alone.

Even within traditional arts, effectiveness can be restrained by over emphasis on an archaic, traditional standard. My old Chinese sifu used to constantly correct endless details and imperfections in my technique. Usually this was helpful, but sometimes it absolutely wasn't. Certain corrections, intended to make me move and look like the traditional template of the art simply did not work for my body.

Decades later, by allowing myself to experiment and deviate slightly from the traditional norm, I have learned ways to compensate for my own physical idiosyncrasies that provide me with greater functionality.

I know that for hyper-traditionalists such as Koryu practitioners this is unacceptable. I remember Chris Parker explaining this in numerous posts. But my chosen art was Wing Chun, and practicality was always held up as a primary virtue of the system. So, I no longer belong to my old association. I now work with a separate group of independent enthusiasts from diverse lineages. We call what we do Adaptive Wing Chun, and are very open to experimentation.

And you know, I just wish I'd taken this path sooner, when I was still physically able to do more experimentation. :)
 

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I think someone suggested it somewhere in this thread, but do a "search" and there are a lot of good discussion on here about what kata is and what it does.

Kata in the Okinawan and Japanese arts and Forms/Sets in the Chinese arts aren't just "one thing". You have various arts with different methodologies and what they are trying to accomplish with the movements of the forms/katas.

For example, in Wing Chun the forms are designed to illustrate concepts and how to use them in a fight. It doesn't have a straight "application" of if the attacker does X, then I have to do Y.

In other arts, some of the movements are for "Chi Kung/Qi Gong" training and aren't "applications" either. Look at the dynamic tension bridging movements done in the Hung Gar forms.

Sometimes, you get a blending of those two ideas (concepts and exercise/training) in a Form/Kata like Sanchin.

Forms/Katas are also a kind of mnemonic device to help someone understand and remember lots of information. For example, us older folks will remember "PEMDAS" when learning math in school. We learned the sentence, "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally". It was a way to remember the order of operations in mathematical problems. The order was: Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction. Let's say many years from now our society and way of doing things is gone and someone finds the sentence, "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally" written in multiple places and they don't know the context. They may surmise that it was to teach proper etiquette in a social situation. Much like the "dinglehopper" from the Little Mermaid, while it could be used for that, it was not what it was designed for.

Many of the bunkai/applications are attempts to find meaning in all of the motions and may or may not be correct or the original application(s). Movements in some forms/katas were also designed as a mnemonic device so that the motions could have different applications and they are all trained by the one movement and then the multiple applications would be practiced with a partner. Some applications have been passed down to us, but others are our best attempts to find combative value in the movement. This was also the reason why kata "shouldn't be changed" unless you really knew what you were doing. If you changed the movement to fit a certain specific application, the other movements could be lost. To illustrate this, when books on karate were first published they put names to what the techniques were. Attacker punches the Defender with a straight punch. Defender does an inward middle block and responds with a punch. This was passed on as the "application" and it wasn't until much later that karateka started to realize that the inward middle block could also be a joint break, a hammerfist strike, etc.

With a good instructor, they will guide you through the different layers of application to the movements. But, sometimes, people are left with playing around with the movements and seeing what works and what doesn't work to come up with applications. If this is the case, then you will be relying on your own training and experience and your imagination.
 

O'Malley

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Gotcha. I think outside criticism can still be valuable, especially when there's a common reference point (e.g. a common competitive ruleset like MMA, a common mechanical principle, or basic anatomy). It's important for my art for example, as we tend to live in a bubble and make a lot of untested assumptions about what's outside of it.
 

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I dont disagree with you but am going to take the devils advocate position for a moment.

Does the grip really matter so much? With the katana in particular, we are talking about an extremely sharp blade. If the wrong fingers are carrying the bulk of the grip or the hands are not spaced quite right on the hilt or the angle of the blade is a micro-degree off from perfect, is it really going to matter when that blade severs an arm or cuts a torso in half? I would say at that point its purely academic and doesnt matter.
I dont think it does and yet Im spending hours perfect the angle of my blade to produce the optimal whoosh (tachikaze) which optimal cutting. But this is the depth of practise that the practitioner of the art needs to show. If I was just cutting down enemies on the battlefield, Id be spending my time running and lifting weights!
Or in aikido, we still make that throw.
Dont you me the uke throws themselves
So in aikido, which puts a premium on taking the enemys balance and breaking down their structure with a minimum of effort, those angles become important. And in the chaos of combat, perhaps those angles cannot be perfect, but if we practice with that perfection as a goal then our technique still has the integrity it needs to succeed.
In a similar way to swordsmanship, brute force can be used to throw an opponent好o real finesse is required. I think its called Judo! Judoka are the toughest fighters Ive had the need to run away from
 

Steve

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I dont disagree with you but am going to take the devils advocate position for a moment.

Does the grip really matter so much? With the katana in particular, we are talking about an extremely sharp blade. If the wrong fingers are carrying the bulk of the grip or the hands are not spaced quite right on the hilt or the angle of the blade is a micro-degree off from perfect, is it really going to matter when that blade severs an arm or cuts a torso in half? I would say at that point its purely academic and doesnt matter.

This isnt to suggest that lazy or sloppy practice is to be accepted. In fact, it actually justifies high standards because in the chaos of combat, technique will deteriorate. We practice to the highest level of perfection that we can so that when our technique deteriorates in the chaos of combat, we still have enough integrity for it to be effective. We still sever that arm. Or in aikido, we still make that throw.

So in aikido, which puts a premium on taking the enemys balance and breaking down their structure with a minimum of effort, those angles become important. And in the chaos of combat, perhaps those angles cannot be perfect, but if we practice with that perfection as a goal then our technique still has the integrity it needs to succeed.
It's not the practice or pursuit of perfect technique that allows folks to succeed in the chaos and unpredictability of real application. It's application of the techniques in chaos that does this. This doesn't mean that practicing technique and pursuing perfect technique is unhelpful or useless. Rather, that it's one part of a larger process of building expertise. I can practice dribbling a basketball, but that's just one part of playing basketball. It's an essential skill, and one I need to learn. But I will never master that skill (or any other relevant skill) until I do so in a live context against other skilled individuals who want to confound me.

There's nothing wrong with training without any kind of functional feedback loop, provided folks are self aware and training for other reasons. But if functional skill is the goal, then you're only going to go so far without the feedback that only application can provide.
 

Flying Crane

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I dont think it does and yet Im spending hours perfect the angle of my blade to produce the optimal whoosh (tachikaze) which optimal cutting. But this is the depth of practise that the practitioner of the art needs to show. If I was just cutting down enemies on the battlefield, Id be spending my time running and lifting weights!

Exactly my point. The details matter and when you have the education and experience to understand why they matter, there is no debating it, never mind that someone in the audience of a demonstration might see it as unnecessarily complicated. This goes for aikido as well as for swordsmanship. Context is different, but there are genuine and meaningful reasons for it.
Dont you me the uke throws themselves
No, I dont. But I understand why it is perceived in that way. Again, it takes contextual understanding of the reasons for the methodology for it to make sense. It may differ from what you are used to. You may feel that it isnt something you wish to train. No problem there.
In a similar way to swordsmanship, brute force can be used to throw an opponent好o real finesse is required. I think its called Judo! Judoka are the toughest fighters Ive had the need to run away from
This is true. I think there is a mythology surrounding the sword that tells us it takes years of precision training in order to be skilled or effective with it. In reality, it is pretty intuitive: stab him with the pointy end. Swing the edge at him. That will be quickly effective.

However, SKILLED swordsmanship is another thing altogether. That takes lots of training and yes, attention to the details as well. But simple effectiveness, enough to be dangerous to your enemy, does not take that much.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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By the way. Sword training and application?

Is there a lot of good sword fighters out there?
The sword and spear fight had been added into CMA tournaments.

For sword fight, rubber swords are use. You start with 2 swords touching on each other. A cut on the arm/leg gets 1 point. A cut on the body gets 2 points.

rubber_sword.jpeg
 

drop bear

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The sword and spear fight had been added into CMA tournaments.

For sword fight, rubber swords are use. You start with 2 swords touching on each other. A cut on the arm/leg gets 1 point. A cut on the body gets 2 points.

View attachment 29811

It would be interesting to see if the guys who excel at that reflect the methods of sword experts.
 

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I remember doing kata in both TKD and Hapkido. The instructor would correct some aspect or our positioning by fractions an inch. Very cool, except bodies, punches and kicks follow their own path. I would have to say, as far as technique, sparring or combat is concerned, I learned very little from the katas that couldnt be learned during student to student exchanges. I suppose that they take discipline and stickwithitness, but folks have those traits in non kata type arts also. I took them as the artistic expression of the art.
 

Flying Crane

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I would have to say, as far as technique, sparring or combat is concerned, I learned very little from the katas that couldnt be learned during student to student exchanges.
So at the same time someone could say, I learned very little from student to student exchanges that couldnt be learned from kata.

I dont believe anyone says kata is the only way to learn things.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I dont believe anyone says kata is the only way to learn things.
I believe the best way is to learn from strategy/principle.

For example, if you have learned strategy "use kick to set up punch", you can come up with:

1. front kick, straight punch.
2. side kick, hook punch.
3. roundhouse kick, spin back fist.
4. inside crescent kick, hammer fist.
5. ...

If you have learned strategy "use kick to set up another kick", you can come up with:

1. left front toes kick, right front heel kick.
2. left side kick, right turn back kick.
3. left roundhouse kick, right spin hook kick.
4. left hook kick, left roundhouse kick.
5. ...

If you have learned strategy "use punch to set up another punch", you can come up with:

1. right jab, left cross.
2. right jab, left hook.
3. right jab, left uppercut.
4. right jab, left overhand.
5. ...

By using those 3 strategies/principles, you can create as many "striking art forms" as you need.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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I dont believe anyone says kata is the only way to learn things.
In the wrestling art you can also start from the strategy. You can then create as many combos (or link into a long form) as you need.

Strategy such as:

1. Continue attack the same direction.
2. Attack 1 direction then attack the opposite direction.
3. Attack linear then attack circular.
4. Attack the right side then attack the left side.
5. ...

By using this approach, your MA training will have no style boundary. You will become your own master, your MA systems will all become your slaves.
 

Flying Crane

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I believe the best way is to learn from strategy/principle.

For example, if you have learned strategy "use kick to set up punch", you can come up with:

1. front kick, straight punch.
2. side kick, hook punch.
3. roundhouse kick, spin back fist.
4. inside crescent kick, hammer fist.
5. ...

If you have learned strategy "use kick to set up another kick", you can come up with:

1. left front toes kick, right front heel kick.
2. left side kick, right turn back kick.
3. left roundhouse kick, right spin hook kick.
4. left hook kick, left roundhouse kick.
5. ...

If you have learned strategy "use punch to set up another punch", you can come up with:

1. right jab, left cross.
2. right jab, left hook.
3. right jab, left uppercut.
4. right jab, left overhand.
5. ...

By using those 3 strategies/principles, you can create as many "striking art forms" as you need.
I am not convinced that there is an objective best way to learn martial arts. Different people learn in different ways. The best way depends on the individual, and the individual needs to find a teacher who teaches in a way that is consistent with the individuals best way of learning. When people begin to understand that and stop trying to insist that it all needs to be done in the same way, we might become enlightened in our martial teaching.

I have an approach that I take in teaching. I cannot teach in every teaching style so I cannot be a good teacher for those who prefer a different style of learning. Those people would be best to find a different teacher, and I am ok with that. I dont pretend that my style of martial arts, nor my style of teaching, is the best fit for everyone. In fact, for some people it is a bad fit. But for other people, it is an excellent fit. Those people would thrive if they were my students.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I dont pretend that my style of martial arts, nor my style of teaching, is the best fit for everyone.
This is why I let my students to find out their own combo that may fit them better.

For example, I may teach 3 punches combo such as jab-cross-jab. I may just teach them to throw all 3 punches in 1 step. I then ask them to figure out the following all by themselves.

- 1st step jab, 2nd step jab-cross.
- 1st step jab-cross, 2nd step jab.
- 1st step jab, 2nd step cross, 3rd step jab.

Is it fun to learn MA this way? :)
 

Flying Crane

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This is why I let my students to find out their own combo that may fit them better.

For example, I may teach 3 punches combo such as jab-cross-jab. I may just teach then to throw all 3 punches in 1 step. I then ask them to figure out the following all by themselves.

- 1st step jab, 2nd step jab-cross.
- 1st step jab-cross, 2nd step jab.
- 1st step jab, 2nd step cross, 3rd step jab.
Figuring out combos can be done by anyone who has accomplished some moderate baseline of training. What I am talking about is how I get the student through that moderate baseline, and then beyond.
 
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