Defining Bunkai

K-man

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This discussion is splitting off from the 'Shotokan for SD' thread because it is just too mixed up to pursue a more detailed discussion.

I want to explore your statement above about the design of kata. And more specifically, what you mean by saying, "Bunkai works on a predetermined response...." Are you talking about bunkai experts such as I.A. demonstrating practical applications grown out of the bunkai form presented in kata?
Traditionally karate is a close quarters fighting system based on the principles of Tegumi and incorporating the techniques and modified kata (or forms) brought back from China. Before we can understand bunkai we have to look at the kata. What is it and what is its purpose? Well for someone seeing it for the first time it is purely a sequence of techniques performed in a particular pattern that starts and finishes in the same position. Some people never get beyond that point. People that simply look at kata as a grading requirement would be in that category.

Fortunately for the rest of us we have numerous excellent publications on kata from guys like Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder and practitioners like George Dillman, Iain Abernethy and Masaji Taira who have taken training in kata and kata bunkai to a new level of understanding.

Kata in its pure form is a fighting system. It's a bit like an incredibly complex piece of machinery that you could look at, appreciate, but really not understand what it does or how it works.

So, if karate is a close quarter fighting style and kata is a fighting system how do they come together? As an example ... I am facing my partner just outside sparring distance. He attacks me. Can I use the bunkai? Maybe, if I am dead lucky. I don't know what he is going to do. Will he punch, kick or try to take me down? Will he hit with the left or right hand? I can't predict what he will do but what I do know is that if I retreat and he misses he will attack again. If I block his attack he will attack again and eventually he may succeed. I must engage at some point and it is actually a huge surprise for an attacker to suddenly find he is being attacked. So I do exactly as you have written, 'move-in-and-destroy'. Now when I move in I will find myself in some form of grappling situation. The secret of the bunkai is to recognise the situation you are in as a particular point of the bunkai you have trained and you move from there.

I'll paint a word picture ...
Old mate has attacked me and I have over-hooked his right arm with my left arm. My right arm is protecting against him striking with his left. I strike heel palm to his face. He has only one option to stop his head being snapped back. He must use his left hand or arm to prevent my strike because I have his right arm trapped under my left arm. If I haven't trained bunkai I now am in the situation where I have successfully entered and engaged but my attack has failed. What do I do next? Do I use my knees, do I start to wrestle ... what is my next move? If I have trained the bunkai I might recognise a situation from training Seiunchin bunkai or Shisochin bunkai where I use my left arm now to sweep under his left arm into an elbow break or an arm bar. I can do that because I knew ahead of time his only means of escape, hence my use of the term 'pre-determined response'.

To me, the concept of bunkai is pretty straightforward. The applications, then become more complex as the base form shown in kata must be adapted & applied to a particular self defense situation which we can only infer from the kata.
The concept of bunkai is straight forward. It is getting to the stage where you can utilise the bunkai without hesitation that takes the time and training. The applications themselves don't have to complex but you do need to instinctively recognise where in the bunkai you are, to be able to move to the next technique, if the move you have just tried has failed. You don't actually infer anything from the kata.

In terms of kumite style, my personal style should be defined as "infighting." I believe I have always used the Okinawan model which you describe "close quarter fighting," which I dub move-in-and-destroy." This is generalized to include step-back-and-destroy, stand-still-and-destroy. It's the opponent's actions that contribute to the choice of precise positional strategy....
I would define my style in similar terms although the 'step-back-and-destroy' would be more 'step-back-step-in-and-destroy'.

However, contrary to yours & popular opinion, IMO, the "infighting concept," these tactical concepts I've spelled out are presented in the Japanese karates & Korean-karate based styles. This highlight's one of my lead-in to calling such "traditional karates."
I don't have any issue with that. We each train to our own understanding. However, if we are actually using kata bunkai we must be using the principles outlined in the kata regarding position relative to our opponent and the angle and direction of the strike, the understanding that each technique is designed to be a finishing move, etc. if you are not doing that, I would argue that you are just fighting using the knowledge you have obtained from your 'traditional karate' teaching.

Since I have dubbed my kumite style as "move in & destroy," In line with what K-Man I think may be talking about predetermined responses, the motion of the assailant will dictate or more accurately play a part in our response on how we move ourselves.
For me it is quite the opposite. Once my attacker has made the first move, assuming mine wasn't a pre-emptive strike and I have engaged, it is me determining his response. His choice, block or be hit. His act of blocking gives me his arm. The concept is really just the same as the sticking hand methods of the CMAs.

However, I favor the "move-in" response because it accomplishes several working objectives. We establish a presence that the attack will not go unanswered. This typically startles the aggressively minded who may presume the defender will be put on the defensive & retreat or cover-up, etc..
This is how it was explained to me in Okinawa. The exact words, "you enter and engage and don't disengage until it is over".

Secondly, it changes the technical dynamic where the spacing has changed therefore the initial sortie on the part of the attacker will likely fail. The prone to failure will be completed by enacting defensive & offensive tactics made advantages by the move-in. One of the tactical advantages is that the attacker's vulnerable body parts is now within reach & one or more exposed. Furthermore, any committed technique by the attacker based on my position before I moved in, that target is now no longer where it was. Moreover, my movement signals that I now may take any number of actions which the attacker is now faced with figuring out--BAM--too late!!!
Once you are engaged none of that really matters if you are using the bunkai and remember, the bunkai isn't designed to go for fifteen techniques. It is designed to finish the fight with the first strike. Only if the first strike fails do you move to the second.
In discussing kumite, the fighting dynamic, I would replace the word Pre-determined with determine.
Again the terms used must be within your own understanding. For me it is definitely 'pre-determined'.
 
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Hanzou

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Unfortunately, I'm forced to define Bunkai as a method to make up techniques that have nothing to do with the kata itself. I have yet to run across any consistent methodology to break down bunkai, nor have I seen anyone utilize bunkai in an alive manner. We only see bunkai utilized for demonstration purposes.

In my honest opinion, bunkai has been simply manufactured in order to give some meaning to kata practice; A practice that is rapidly losing ground to more direct methods of instruction that have abandoned the practice of kata altogether. I still believe that karate would be better off by eliminating kata, increase sparring practice, and teach the techniques themselves in a method similar to boxing or MMA.

That's simply MY opinion though. :)
 
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K-man

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Unfortunately, I'm forced to define Bunkai as a method to make up techniques that have nothing to do with the kata itself. I have yet to run across any consistent methodology to break down bunkai, nor have I seen anyone utilize bunkai in an alive manner. We only see bunkai utilized for demonstration purposes.

In my honest opinion, bunkai has been simply manufactured in order to give some meaning to kata practice; A practice that is rapidly losing ground to more direct methods of instruction that have abandoned the practice of kata altogether. I still believe that karate would be better off by eliminating kata, increase sparring practice, and teach the techniques themselves in a method similar to boxing or MMA.

That's simply MY opinion though. :)
:banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
 

Flying Crane

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Unfortunately, I'm forced to define Bunkai as a method to make up techniques that have nothing to do with the kata itself. I have yet to run across any consistent methodology to break down bunkai, nor have I seen anyone utilize bunkai in an alive manner. We only see bunkai utilized for demonstration purposes.

In my honest opinion, bunkai has been simply manufactured in order to give some meaning to kata practice; A practice that is rapidly losing ground to more direct methods of instruction that have abandoned the practice of kata altogether. I still believe that karate would be better off by eliminating kata, increase sparring practice, and teach the techniques themselves in a method similar to boxing or MMA.

That's simply MY opinion though. :)
Since you do not train In karate, why would you care?
 

ShotoNoob

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This discussion is splitting off from the 'Shotokan for SD' thread because it is just too mixed up to pursue a more detailed discussion.
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Although your post speaks to the practice of bunkai, the way I see your explanation is more of a description of the practice of Okinawan karate. You make very clear, though extensive which makes it difficult to paraphrase, your approach to self defensive by Okinawan standards.
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I can related to your definition of predetermined responses. I think there is a semantically overlap in what I am saying & what you are describing. The way I think, however, suggests more KIME as opposed to instinct or PRE-determination. The KIME I am referring to here is not just the colloquial version of mental focus usually referred to , but active decision making.
 

ShotoNoob

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I would define my style in similar terms although the 'step-back-and-destroy' would be more 'step-back-step-in-and-destroy'.
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Perhaps by isolating out this narrow part of your comprehensive post, I will clarify my thinking.
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I have posted illustrations of what have been considered kihon training (sometimes panned). Yet the concepts in that training are precisely encompassed in your statement above. The kihon alternatives of stand still, step back, & step in comprises base alternatives to repositioning. We have established certain principles of repositioning. Also @ the kihon level, we the exact example of step-back-and-step-in repositioning that you prefer or espouse. We can either call this another principle or an adaptation of the first three alternatives, in principle.
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Overall, I am no where near training specific bunkai on the sophistication level you are. Using principles that I can apply & adapt, like you say, I can apply kihon karate technique so dynamically that I don't need I.A's sophistication technically.
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My word picture. You say if I block the opponent, he can continue the attack. But even in Taikyoku kata, I do not block & stop. I block & strike. This is one of the great lessons in Taikyoku kata.
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Moreover, it is the mind body union trained in these FIRST CAUSE kata that provides the mental discipline to move so dynamically the opponent cannot react fast enough against. And on the mental side, It's not mental instinct alone. It's KIME, includes KIME (as well as other mental skills).
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this is also why I say Shotokan done well, though not trained to your traditional karate standards, is very effective for self defense. The traditional karate principles I am taking about are foundational, not technical or so structurally sophisticated in actual training as represented by your Okinawan Goju ryu.....
 
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K-man

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I can related to your definition of predetermined responses. I think there is a semantically overlap in what I am saying & what you are describing. The way I think, however, suggests more KIME as opposed to instinct or PRE-determination. The KIME I am referring to here is not just the colloquial version of mental focus usually referred to , but active decision making.
Just to clarify, how are you using the term 'Kime'. Not saying you don't use the term correctly but many others mean many different things by kime so before starting to discuss that we probably should have clarification.

Here is a start ...
What is Kime in Karate KARATE by Jesse
 
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K-man

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I have posted illustrations of what have been considered kihon training (sometimes panned). Yet the concepts in that training are precisely encompassed in your statement above. The kihon alternatives of stand still, step back, & step in comprises base alternatives to repositioning. We have established certain principles of repositioning. Also @ the kihon level, we the exact example of step-back-and-step-in repositioning that you prefer or espouse. We can either call this another principle or an adaptation of the first three alternatives, in principle.
I don't have an issue with kihon. It is only through kihon than you can learn and understand karate. However, when it comes to using your karate in a martial sense, you have to be beyond kihon and that advancement is seen in most Shotokan sparring where some might say that the fighting is not what they see in the basic training. Just like the bunkai is the interpretation of kata, to me, jiu kumite is the interpretation of the kihon, however it is practised.

Overall, I am no where near training specific bunkai on the sophistication level you are. Using principles that I can apply & adapt, like you say, I can apply kihon karate technique so dynamically that I don't need I.A's sophistication technically.
Again, no problem. Iain is just adding a layer of understanding to the training that you can choose to incorporate or not. Those who say you don't need kata to fight are 100% right. But that doesn't mean that training bunkai doesn't have it's place.

My word picture. You say if I block the opponent, he can continue the attack. But even in Taikyoku kata, I do not block & stop. I block & strike. This is one of the great lessons in Taikyoku kata.
In Taikyoku kata it is normally block then strike. If it is block and strike in the one movement then I can accept that, even though the concept of 'blocking' has no place in my understanding of any martial art.

Moreover, it is the mind body union trained in these FIRST CAUSE kata that provides the mental discipline to move so dynamically the opponent cannot react fast enough against. And on the mental side, It's not mental instinct alone. It's KIME, includes KIME (as well as other mental skills).
To be honest, you have lost me here. Perhaps you could explain what you mean by First Cause kata.
this is also why I say Shotokan done well, though not trained to your traditional karate standards, is very effective for self defense. The traditional karate principles I am taking about are foundational, not technical or so structurally sophisticated in actual training as represented by your Okinawan Goju ryu.....
Again, I agree totally. I have seen some really good Shotokan practitioners and I have no doubt they could all look after themselves in a self defence situation.
 

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I look at Bunkai as a way of looking at a movement within the form and learning what that movement can be not what it looks like. So many times we are told a certain movement is such and such and that is all we know it as but it may means so much much more if we think about it.
I truly believe that many of the older forms where simplified in their explanation for beginners and children and that it was not until years of study that people where told other meaning of the moves or discovered them for themselves only to have the instructor smile when told of the discovery and say "What took you so long to see that"
 
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K-man

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I look at Bunkai as a way of looking at a movement within the form and learning what that movement can be not what it looks like. So many times we are told a certain movement is such and such and that is all we know it as but it may means so much much more if we think about it.
I truly believe that many of the older forms where simplified in their explanation for beginners and children and that it was not until years of study that people where told other meaning of the moves or discovered them for themselves only to have the instructor smile when told of the discovery and say "What took you so long to see that"
Exactly.
 

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Just to clarify, how are you using the term 'Kime'. Not saying you don't use the term correctly but many others mean many different things by kime so before starting to discuss that we probably should have clarification.

Here is a start ...
What is Kime in Karate KARATE by Jesse
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Yes, I read the article linked. And that could very well be the definition of "kime."
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The problem is in an overall sense defining & describing the mental dimension of what I call traditional karate. KIME is defining & descriptive of part of the mental dimension. But is the strictly biomechanical application referred to in the linked article the original, complete & correct or only proper interpretation of "kime." Beats me.
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I have had karate instructors generally refer to KIME along the lines of some of the definitions discounted or discredited by the article linked. Do theses instructors local to me really know? Or are the sources Karate by Jesse blog uses, are they the ones in the know? So what is KIME?
 

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Defining "Bunkai"
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I'm still digesting your explicitly precise description of Okinawan Goju ryu practice of bunkai. Right now, I'm going to adopt a working conclusion that your description of your curriculum practice of bunkai is 100% correct by Okinawan tradition. I believe you have thought this through & through.
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What I am more interested in doing is answering fundamental conceptual questions. Getting these universal traditional martial art concepts right, here traditional karate concepts right, provides to me a martial skill foundation that eclipses the structure of the style, the curriculum, and the particular practice of bunkai.
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The Shotokan karate manuals I've seen as well as other traditional martial art manuals all speak in general to the mind & body trained together. So what does this mean? It means that the mental dimension of martial training is especially important, compared to sport-based fighting styles such as boxing, and the way BJJ is typically practiced, etc. That is my interpretation. KIME, then is an part or component of mental training. There are other components, such as the "mental clarity" capability written about in another MT thread. Is KIME covered by "mental clarity," is KIME separate but complimentary to "Mental Clarity," is KIME redundant to "mental clarity?"
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To me, all these conceptual questions must be answered in order to tap the power of traditional karate. It's not enough to define a traditionally acceptable definition of KIME, or to create and perform a traditionally correct curriculum of bunkai training according to Okinawan Goju ryu traditions. We have to know what's really driving these traditions. Karate bunkai, to me, is not traditional bunkai whether it be Japanese Goju Kai or Okinawan Goju Ryu unless the core concepts that drive the human capability behind the physical movements are what the traditional karate masters have sought to define.
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Bunaki to me, is not really defined by close quarter grappling, one bunkai set meant to end the fight, etc. as you have so correctly laid out by your curriculum. Bunaki to me is the ability to defeat the opponent quickly & efficiently. That applied goal is done through mind / body unity with the mind exacting precise control over the body at all times. Through mental discipline, the right technique is applied in the right way done at the right time. The physical manifestation of that technique, whether it be the Shotokan conventional reverse point fighting punch or Okinawan bunkai of some sort must be driven by the process I've describe in order to qualify as traditional karate.. KIME, however defined or described or utilized, forms a part of that requisite mental discipline.
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Bunkai, or anything else in traditional karate for that matter, must be driven by mental discipline, of which KIME is a necessary component. The physical manifestation of the technique, while done in concert with the mind's direction, such physical action is completely secondary and subject to the mental dimension, including the mental process of KIME.
 

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SUMMARY OF KIME, BUNKAI.
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1. Traditional karate [my definition] is based on mind / body union.
2. The mind & body work as a highly coordinated unit.
3. In the process of the mind & body working as a unit, the mind is dominant and consciously controls the body at all times. The mind exerts mental discipline over the body at all times.
4. KIME comprises a part or component of that mental discipline. KIME represents part of the mental function exerting control over the physical function.
5. TO ME, KIME has some commonality with the KARATE by Jesse article definitions, both of the article's author and the other definitions given.
6. KIME, to me, has at least a two-fold meaning. One: the tensing of tall the musculature in the body in order to BE ABLE channel the strength of the entire body into a technique. NOTE, I said "be able." So, there is a decision made to tense the musculature, and also by how much. Second, KIME necessarily involves a broader connotation of decision making in what technique & how to enact or apply that technique when confronted by a threatening situation. KIME then, carries into the element of "mental clarity," where we make considered decisions in martial counters.
7. So KIME, to me, has two interpretations which function together. A mentally-disciplined bio mechanical contraction or tensing of the muscles ( and subsequent relaxation) to produce power, AND the capability to make tactically correct & effective technical decisions.
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Gathering & applying the strength of the whole body (as needed), and exercising tactical choices which together result in effective martial action.
 

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Again, your posts are very comprehensive in terms of describing the curriculum, the technical progression. I'll just try to hit some points to shed some light on what I've learned.
1.I don't have an issue with kihon. It is only through kihon than you can learn and understand karate. However, when it comes to using your karate in a martial sense, you have to be beyond kihon and that advancement is seen in most Shotokan sparring where some might say that the fighting is not what they see in the basic training. Just like the bunkai is the interpretation of kata, to me, jiu kumite is the interpretation of the kihon, however it is practised.
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This is a huge and expansive point you've made. All correct, TMU. Yet I feel what is missed to make it complete is that kihon trained & executed under the mental discipline guidelines (including the KIME I've defined & described) I've outlined above, kihon karate becomes very dynamic & effective in it's own right. Very, very effective. This is where I have always differed with you--on kihon. I'll speak to interpretation into sparring below.

2. Again, no problem. Iain is just adding a layer of understanding to the training that you can choose to incorporate or not. Those who say you don't need kata to fight are 100% right. But that doesn't mean that training bunkai doesn't have it's place.
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To me, the value of IA's work is that he has given a better toolbox of techniques, better practical applications from the principles represented in kihon and other traditional karate training form. He's added sophistication which fulfill a purpose of advancing one to being a better fighter, or better @ self defense.
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From my perspective, of approaching from the conceptual base I've described, there is no discord or conflict between kihon, kata, or bunkai. You don't need bunkai from kata to be a very effective karate fighter (self defense). You need the conceptual base I've talked about. With the conceptual foundation properly laid, then kihon karate becomes very strong, very effective because one's our actions are very dynamic (quick, powerful as need be, precise & on target, correct in matching application....) IA's work only makes your karate better because the design & application are more practical and specifically effective in certain effect, just as your painted in your "word pictures." But it's the requisite mental discipline behind I.A.'s bunkai that makes the "traditional karate" difference.

3. In Taikyoku kata it is normally block then strike. If it is block and strike in the one movement then I can accept that, even though the concept of 'blocking' has no place in my understanding of any martial art.
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Well, of course yours is a legitimate interpretation. But IMO, it is not the comprehensive interpretation. The comprehensive interpretation is not a standard of physically preferred or advantageous action. The comprehensive interpretation starts with the mental & physical working in unity. Then the mind, mental discipline dominates the physical action. This is the value of training the kihon 'FIRST CAUSE" KATA. To develop mind & body unity, to develop the strong mental discipline of the mind over the body, with mental qualities of KIME as I 've described as included in that mental discipline. And there's more to the mental dimension than KIME.... That's the thrust of "FIRST CAUSE" training.... TMU.
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This is why I can block an opponent's strike by merely checking the incoming blow. I can KIME to do that. I can also KIME to break his forearm or wrist bones (may not succeed). This is why I can KIME block an opponent's strike and KIME counter strike with a simple straight or a reverse punch so dynamically he is unable to react appropriately. It's really a kihon version (in physical structure) of your bunkai practice. I could KIME to block & strike simultaneously just as you propose. However, I also can KIME to do the 1-block, 2 strike so mentally disciplined that I am quite successful with that alternative. The mind / bondy unity in place, I can bang the simpleton kihon out quite quickly & powerfully (& accurately) ....the FIRST CAUSE FOUNDATION is in place. There are advantages to a 1-block, 2-counter strike tactic, you know.
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The Shotokan karate syllabus specifically spells all this out tactically in the concept of "sen," or initiative by my understanding.
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ShotoNoob

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MY DEFEAT OF SENIOR BELT "KICKBOXER" VIGNETTE.
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My story on how I early on defeated the aggressive kickboxer type who fought with a more common competitive style. Well Tez and some others kinda dumped on it, called me for bragging.
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When really, it was a prime illustration of how kihon karate technique, powered by mental discipline, overcomes the superior athlete. It was an example of the achievement (mine) of skill sought in FIRST CAUSE training. Mind & body unity, with the mind driving every action consciously.
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It's not just that I moved-in physically, It's that I KIME'd in deliberately and KIME'd just enough force to deflect his Right Straight / Cross which had been aimed directly into my face. Kinda like that softer block you talked about in Goju (but really not so internally sophisticated I've sure). All techniques including the block were chambered according to kihon principles, not exactly kihon form. This is because we change the kihon training form to adapt the form to combat, yet keep the same principles of chambering. My next move caught the kickboxer completely off guard, just like the concept of your bunkai "word picture," mine a kihon follow-on taught to white belts. Of course, done with black-belt mental skills (including KIME, but more). Third, KIME'd 2nd Follow-on strike meant to end the fight KIME'd power strike) ,,, maybe not... then KIME on to next intelligent move as need be.
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Traditional karate and everything under it is a mental discipline. That's the over-riding theme in kihon kata meant to impart this FIRST CAUSE foundation. And every part of traditional karate training (as I define it) is meant to do the same....
 
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K-man

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Yes, I read the article linked. And that could very well be the definition of "kime."
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The problem is in an overall sense defining & describing the mental dimension of what I call traditional karate. KIME is defining & descriptive of part of the mental dimension. But is the strictly biomechanical application referred to in the linked article the original, complete & correct or only proper interpretation of "kime." Beats me.
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I have had karate instructors generally refer to KIME along the lines of some of the definitions discounted or discredited by the article linked. Do theses instructors local to me really know? Or are the sources Karate by Jesse blog uses, are they the ones in the know? So what is KIME?
I'm happy with that answer. In Jesse's article he is making it black and white but even in English words have multiple meanings and normally it takes context to determine what is actually being said. In Japanese it gets harder again, even for the Japanese. One of my friends hired a Japanese interpreter to translate at one of Masaji Taira's seminars and she had no understanding of the words used in the martial art context. A very close friend of mine, also Japanese, has had similar problems in understanding karate terms so really, I think we will have to just accept that even though kime might have a single dictionary meaning in the Japanese language, in martial arts it has been adapted to mean different things to different people.
 
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I'm still digesting your explicitly precise description of Okinawan Goju ryu practice of bunkai. Right now, I'm going to adopt a working conclusion that your description of your curriculum practice of bunkai is 100% correct by Okinawan tradition. I believe you have thought this through & through.
Not quite. There is no curriculum for the study of the bunkai. Bunkai like 'kime' means different things to different people so the study of Bunkai is an individual thing. There is a general understanding of what Bunkai is but it is up to the individual to create their own Bunkai from any particular kata.
What I am more interested in doing is answering fundamental conceptual questions. Getting these universal traditional martial art concepts right, here traditional karate concepts right, provides to me a martial skill foundation that eclipses the structure of the style, the curriculum, and the particular practice of bunkai.
That's fine, but is there really simply one foundation. Okinawan karate has shorter stances and a more front on kamae than the Japanese styles. In particular Shotokan has exaggerated stances and because of the use of high kicks the kamae position is also very different, to me an example of how the sporting influence has modified the basic style.
The Shotokan karate manuals I've seen as well as other traditional martial art manuals all speak in general to the mind & body trained together. So what does this mean? It means that the mental dimension of martial training is especially important, compared to sport-based fighting styles such as boxing, and the way BJJ is typically practiced, etc. That is my interpretation. KIME, then is an part or component of mental training. There are other components, such as the "mental clarity" capability written about in another MT thread. Is KIME covered by "mental clarity," is KIME separate but complimentary to "Mental Clarity," is KIME redundant to "mental clarity?"
I was discussing this with a senior Japanese Goju guy some years back. Goju meaning hard and soft has what I call hard Ki and soft Ki. Hard Ki is the easiest to understand as it is simply mind and body together. His understanding of hard Ki was to me a correct interpretation. When ready to fight he was fired up with intent and just going out to destroy his opponent. As the intent diminishes so the Ki aspect softens but it is still there in the practise of kihon.

Within this context, I don't see kime being part of it at all really unless it is where the mind is empty and there is a relaxed focus on what is happening around you. Now you could say that in the original meaning of kime we are all set and ready to go.

To me, all these conceptual questions must be answered in order to tap the power of traditional karate. It's not enough to define a traditionally acceptable definition of KIME, or to create and perform a traditionally correct curriculum of bunkai training according to Okinawan Goju ryu traditions. We have to know what's really driving these traditions. Karate bunkai, to me, is not traditional bunkai whether it be Japanese Goju Kai or Okinawan Goju Ryu unless the core concepts that drive the human capability behind the physical movements are what the traditional karate masters have sought to define.
This is getting pretty deep. How or why does the Bunkai need to drive the human capability beyond the physical movements? All the Bunkai is, is an individual interpretation of the kata that you can use in a conflict. It can be as simple or as complex as the individual determines. I don't believe it was ever defined by the masters. Bunkai is an area of individual endeavour.

Bunaki to me, is not really defined by close quarter grappling, one bunkai set meant to end the fight, etc. as you have so correctly laid out by your curriculum. Bunaki to me is the ability to defeat the opponent quickly & efficiently. That applied goal is done through mind / body unity with the mind exacting precise control over the body at all times. Through mental discipline, the right technique is applied in the right way done at the right time. The physical manifestation of that technique, whether it be the Shotokan conventional reverse point fighting punch or Okinawan bunkai of some sort must be driven by the process I've describe in order to qualify as traditional karate.. KIME, however defined or described or utilized, forms a part of that requisite mental discipline.
I would suggest you are talking about two different things here. How you control your body while fighting is the same whether you are using the concepts of Bunkai or not. Whether you fight with mind and body together or with mind and body separate is up to the individual and his level of training. Certainly either way involves kime.

Bunkai, or anything else in traditional karate for that matter, must be driven by mental discipline, of which KIME is a necessary component. The physical manifestation of the technique, while done in concert with the mind's direction, such physical action is completely secondary and subject to the mental dimension, including the mental process of KIME.
I can go with that, but I don't see the need to single out Bunkai for separate attention. It's just a variation of "learn the technique, forget the technique, use the technique".
 
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SUMMARY OF KIME, BUNKAI.
I'm sorry but I cannot find anything in this post relating to Bunkai so I will approach it as a discussion of kime.

1. Traditional karate [my definition] is based on mind / body union.
I would suggest that is is much more complex than that. To understand "mind / body union" I think you need to go back a hundred years or more to China and look at the CMAs that formed the base of what we now know as karate. Those styles are basically internal styles and that is almost the opposite to what we see in most karate today which is basically a hard style. So how did it change so dramatically? I might suggest a lot of it had to do with karate becoming a fitness training exercise in the schools in the traditional Japanese way of lining people up and drilling in unison. And, in Japan, the transition of karate from a means of defending yourself to a competitive sport.

Having had the privilege of discussing this topic with Tetsuhiro Hokama in Okinawa, it is apparent that today's hard style of karate that you see around is nothing like the original Goju that he was taught.
2. The mind & body work as a highly coordinated unit.
Technically, this statement is correct but what we see is mind and body working together which leads to both attacker and defender using the same timing which leads to a physical clash. In this situation, assuming similar ability, the bigger stronger person will win. Hence in most top level competitions there are weight classes. To overcome this the older traditional styles utilised broken timing, something you also see in the top levels of aikido.

3. In the process of the mind & body working as a unit, the mind is dominant and consciously controls the body at all times. The mind exerts mental discipline over the body at all times.
Now here I have to disagree totally. What you are describing here is the beginner level of any martial art. When you are thinking about what you are doing you cannot respond instinctively. What you need is 'mushin', mind of no mind. There the body responds instinctively from a totally relaxed state. As I have quoted previously, we learn a technique (mind in control), forget the technique (empty the mind) and use the technique (no involvement of the mind). This means no conscious control of the body by the mind.

4. KIME comprises a part or component of that mental discipline. KIME represents part of the mental function exerting control over the physical function.
I really don't see it this way at all. Certainly kime by any description is a component of mental discipline but I really don't see it exerting control over physical function.

5. TO ME, KIME has some commonality with the KARATE by Jesse article definitions, both of the article's author and the other definitions given.
For me, perhaps more what he says it isn't rather than what he saysit is.

6. KIME, to me, has at least a two-fold meaning. One: the tensing of tall the musculature in the body in order to BE ABLE channel the strength of the entire body into a technique. NOTE, I said "be able." So, there is a decision made to tense the musculature, and also by how much. Second, KIME necessarily involves a broader connotation of decision making in what technique & how to enact or apply that technique when confronted by a threatening situation. KIME then, carries into the element of "mental clarity," where we make considered decisions in martial counters.
I think the important thing here is, kime is what it means to you. What it means to me is irrelevant.

7. So KIME, to me, has two interpretations which function together. A mentally-disciplined bio mechanical contraction or tensing of the muscles ( and subsequent relaxation) to produce power, AND the capability to make tactically correct & effective technical decisions.
What I think you have encapsulated here is the difference between Japanese and Okinawan styles. We don't do that at all and her in lies a lot of the confusion others have when they say we don't fight as we train. Okinawan karateka, at least the ones I am familiar with do fight as they train but because it is not like the karate people see elsewhere they claim it is fighting like a (...insert whatever style you want, here...) fighter. The opposite is also true. Very few karate guys would fight like the training you are describing and that is why karate is taking a bashing on this forum from some of the MMA guys. Being stuck in a rigid deep stance is not the way we fight. I come from a Japanese Goju background and our training was very similar to Shotokan. We never even sparred the way we trained the kihon, let alone tried it in a tournament.

Gathering & applying the strength of the whole body (as needed), and exercising tactical choices which together result in effective martial action.
Again we will have to disagree. I teach to use minimal strength to develop maximum power.
 
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This is a huge and expansive point you've made. All correct, TMU. Yet I feel what is missed to make it complete is that kihon trained & executed under the mental discipline guidelines (including the KIME I've defined & described) I've outlined above, kihon karate becomes very dynamic & effective in it's own right. Very, very effective. This is where I have always differed with you--on kihon. I'll speak to interpretation into sparring below.
What I think you are missing is that kihon is kihon. It is not designed for fighting, it is not at all practical for fighting. Kihon means basic. We learn the alphabet (basics), we string the basics together to print words (basics) and we string the words into sentences (still basics). When we write a letter we could still print each letter individually (basics) but normally we move into the written form (advanced). I see an enormous amount of kihon karate around but I have never seen it used in fighting. If you are using it that way, more strength to your arm.

To me, the value of IA's work is that he has given a better toolbox of techniques, better practical applications from the principles represented in kihon and other traditional karate training form. He's added sophistication which fulfill a purpose of advancing one to being a better fighter, or better @ self defense.
Again the tool box idea is the understanding I had of kata until I came across some of Dillman's work about twelve years ago. Iain's work is not about giving you better tools. The tools were always there. What he is doing is showing us how he uses the tools. More than that, kata contains a whole heap of individual components that must be assembled in sequence. Iain's work not only shows how to use the tools, it shows us how to build a system to fight with as well.

From my perspective, of approaching from the conceptual base I've described, there is no discord or conflict between kihon, kata, or bunkai. You don't need bunkai from kata to be a very effective karate fighter (self defense).
Agree totally.

You need the conceptual base I've talked about. With the conceptual foundation properly laid, then kihon karate becomes very strong, very effective because one's our actions are very dynamic (quick, powerful as need be, precise & on target, correct in matching application....) IA's work only makes your karate better because the design & application are more practical and specifically effective in certain effect, just as your painted in your "word pictures." But it's the requisite mental discipline behind I.A.'s bunkai that makes the "traditional karate" difference.
I have to disagree here for all the reasons I have put into other replies. Kihon was never designed for real fighting. Kihon is what is used to teach you the system, not to use the system and this is the problem caused when karate moved into the schools. What you have is a situation akin to cooking an omelette where you can't break the eggs.

Well, of course yours is a legitimate interpretation. But IMO, it is not the comprehensive interpretation. The comprehensive interpretation is not a standard of physically preferred or advantageous action. The comprehensive interpretation starts with the mental & physical working in unity. Then the mind, mental discipline dominates the physical action. This is the value of training the kihon 'FIRST CAUSE" KATA. To develop mind & body unity, to develop the strong mental discipline of the mind over the body, with mental qualities of KIME as I 've described as included in that mental discipline. And there's more to the mental dimension than KIME.... That's the thrust of "FIRST CAUSE" training.... TMU.
Again we will have to agree to disagree. Focusing on the mental and physical together is what I used to teach before becoming involved with Okinawan karate. Your understanding is from your experience, mine is from my experience. They will always be different. I have always said that the Pinan/Hian kata were more useful than the Goju Kai taikyoku kata but I see no need at all for them in my training. The basic Goju kata are more than sufficient.

This is why I can block an opponent's strike by merely checking the incoming blow. I can KIME to do that. I can also KIME to break his forearm or wrist bones (may not succeed). This is why I can KIME block an opponent's strike and KIME counter strike with a simple straight or a reverse punch so dynamically he is unable to react appropriately. It's really a kihon version (in physical structure) of your bunkai practice. I could KIME to block & strike simultaneously just as you propose. However, I also can KIME to do the 1-block, 2 strike so mentally disciplined that I am quite successful with that alternative. The mind / bondy unity in place, I can bang the simpleton kihon out quite quickly & powerfully (& accurately) ....the FIRST CAUSE FOUNDATION is in place. There are advantages to a 1-block, 2-counter strike tactic, you know.
As I said, if you can do that more power to you. I disagree totally with that concept. Now it may be that I am not understandining you correctly but using 'basic' karate to fight with is not within my understanding. Beginners are taught basics. Someone using basics at an advanced level would be what I have seen described as an 'advanced beginner'.

The Shotokan karate syllabus specifically spells all this out tactically in the concept of "sen," or initiative by my understanding.
Shotokan is Shotokan. I have no real depth of knowledge about it.
 
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