The Theory and Practice of Forms Breakdown

Matt Stone

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Not trying to start a war, not trying to instigate flaming.

How do your respective styles approach the idea of forms break down? Do you use an ABCD method, linking each technique into subsequent techniques included in the form? Do you view the entire form as an assemblage of separate, though possibly linked, techniques that are either fully developed techniques or "short hand" for larger series of combinations?

Perhaps this approach to such a controversial topic would alleviate some of the misunderstandings associated with its discussion...

Gambarimasu.

:asian:
 
Yiliquan 1, I asked this one in one of the bunkai threads. RyuShiKan had mention that you both had this discussion. The question I asked was about Tai Chi and the forms. After learning each posture or movement. You apply it to the form, such as 24 or 48 forms. But after that you should be able to take different posture and combine them. If this true or okay to do. Than couldn't this concept be applied to Okinawan kata. Since most Okinawan kata's are Chinese origin. Also taking the Tai chi forms could the movements be associated with Okinawan Kata. Pinan Shodan has a spear hand thrust in it. could this movement be similar to pick up needle from sea bottom. Any thought on this.
Bob:asian:
 
Originally posted by Kempojujutsu

The question I asked was about Tai Chi and the forms. After learning each posture or movement. You apply it to the form, such as 24 or 48 forms. But after that you should be able to take different posture and combine them.

Exactly. While the postures could be linked in ABCD fashion, it is unlikely that (due to the nature of the postures' breakdowns) that they would be. Each posture is somewhat intended to be a "be all end all" in and of itself. In that vein, however, the posture is a reference point and not necessarily illustrative of everything that is included in the breakdown. However, with some postures, they could be linked together in ABCD fashion (though due to their location in the form it would be more akin to AGNQ than ABCD) for application purposes...

If this true or okay to do. Than couldn't this concept be applied to Okinawan kata. Since most Okinawan kata's are Chinese origin.

That is kind of what RyuShiKan is hinting at in his other comments... A given form goes ABCDEFG. Perhaps it has a common, basic breakdown linking the techniques in that order. However, each technique may be a complete set of techniques in and of itself, seperate from the others and intended to be applied to only one aggressor. So, you could use A and its extended variations alone, without linking BCDEFG. Also, you could take C, E and G and link them with A to create another set. Etc. Since there are few kata that are without Chinese or Okinawan influence in some manner, I would think it difficult to not apply this mentality to their applications as well...

Also taking the Tai chi forms could the movements be associated with Okinawan Kata. Pinan Shodan has a spear hand thrust in it. could this movement be similar to pick up needle from sea bottom. Any thought on this.

It might, but then it might not. With Needle at Sea Bottom, there is a semi-circular withdrawal of the spearing hand before the spear that indicates its use as a wrist lock (as one application). So if Pinan Shodan had a similar movement, then why not. Even if the movement is not necessarily similar, still, why not. However (since this thread was about breakdown theory not actual breakdowns themselves), I was taught not to stray too far from the "intent" of the form, that is, try to remain within the context of the movement. Straying too far beyond the movement's "intent" can get you way out of sync with what the form is intended to be teaching you. This is difficult to explain fully in writing, and much more easily understood in person, so I hope you see where I am going with it. If not, let me know, and I will try writing a novella to explain it...

Gambarimasu.

:asian:
 
Originally posted by Yiliquan1

Not trying to start a war, not trying to instigate flaming.

How do your respective styles approach the idea of forms break down? Do you use an ABCD method, linking each technique into subsequent techniques included in the form? Do you view the entire form as an assemblage of separate, though possibly linked, techniques that are either fully developed techniques or "short hand" for larger series of combinations?

Perhaps this approach to such a controversial topic would alleviate some of the misunderstandings associated with its discussion...

Gambarimasu.

:asian:

Yiliquan1,

Always a good topic and hopefully it won't digress.
Anyone can feel free to disagree with me at anytime.

First off I would like to quote a passage about kata from "Ryukyu Kempo History and Basics". It was written by my teachers most senior student,Kyoshi Jim Logue.

Kata interpretation is usally taught step by step exactly in the sequence as it occurs in the kata. This idea is too simple and doesn't have much practicality. A kata is like a puzzle. What may apprear to be an interpretation of a movement may actually be the opposite. Kata is a series of indvidual techniques put together so that they could be easily remembered.
Copyright穢 1989

This is the first English version of this idea I have seen. I also read something similar written by an Okinawan karateka circa 1900.


Let's look at this sentence since it is rather signifgant:

Kata is a series of indvidual techniques put together so that they could be easily remembered.

One theory I have is:
When kata were first being codified people would take whatever techniques they had collected from any number of places and put it into some form or notation they could remember. This was sort of like making a note or short hand sign. This was often done so the person writing the kata could remember what that move was............kata weren't really made so they could be passed down to further generations of students or taught in a dojo...........they were simply notes made for memory.


Second theory I have is:
A person has a whole collection of and wanted to pass them on to someone arranged them so that the student could remember them. Not necessarily in the order they were intended for use but facilitate easy memory.
Classic example of the are the Pinan katas 1~4. They were "made" and if you notice they are pretty similar in their walking pattern.
You start go to the left then the right then down, then left and then right and then back left and right..........for the most part anyway.
this pattern resembles something of a big "I" .
The pattern is easy to remember even though the stances and hand work is different.


Why are the applications in the katas not easily recognizable for the casual viewer?

Could be several reasons.
1) Could be due to the "note" system I mentioned in the first theory. Things just got stuck on as they were learned.
2) They could have been purposely made to be vague so the casual observer wouldn't know what he was looking at and thereby be able to see or find a weakness in the persons technique.........if there was one.
You have to remember in Okinawa Karate demonstrations were just not done until the first part of the 20th century, and I have read that even then it was considered rather rude or showing off to do so. Something like saying "Hey look at me! I am the greasiest!"
I believe karate's actual "opening up" was due to the Sino-Russian War and the Second World War. It was obviously seen as a useful tool for troop development and implemented as such.


Originally posted by Yiliquan1

Not trying to start a war, not trying to instigate flaming.

How do your respective styles approach the idea of forms break down? Do you use an ABCD method, linking each technique into subsequent techniques included in the form?

As I stated on a different thread it is case by case. Some kata have places that might have 2 or 3 moves "connected" sequentially and some do not. I would say more do not than do.
As you know we use the Spelling method rather than the sequential ABCD method.


Originally posted by Yiliquan1

Do you view the entire form as an assemblage of separate, though possibly linked, techniques that are either fully developed techniques or "short hand" for larger series of combinations?

If you look at most kata the foot work for the actual technique is not usually apparent in the performance of the kata. Naihanchi is a classic example. The foot work goes from side to side, however the applications don't use that footwork.
Why?
Most likely because the movements in the kata are sort of stop motion or freeze frame shots of the application as stated below in the ideas on how to find bunkai.

More from "Ryukyu Kempo History and Basics".

The following are ideas or thoughts to consider when attempting to interpret kata:

* The movement can be that of the opponent
* The movement can be represented backward in the kata
* A closed fist can mean grabbing or being grabbed
* A block can be a strike, a strike can be a block
* The meaning of the movement can be a transition between movements instead of the ending position
* The technique can be a combination of 2 or more steps (not meaning sequential)
Copyright穢 1989


I have tried to keep this short and to the point as I know most people don't like to sift through paragraphs of endless gibberish.


If anyone would like more information on "Ryukyu Kempo History and Basics" please contact me via PM or email.
 
I think we have coined a new set of terms - namely, the Letter Method and the Spelling Method.

I don't think that the Letter method is necessarily less valid than the Spelling Method, but I would suspect that (given my experience with CMA forms and my recent small exposure to RyuTe's method of doing forms) the Spelling Method is the more correct of the two...

I know that when I try to work breakdowns on forms I have been doing for years, forms I know inside and out, if I try to use the Letter Method, I get zilch. When I start using the Spelling Method, things get easy very quickly.

Just my 2 yen...
 
Originally posted by Yiliquan1

I don't think that the Letter method is necessarily less valid than the Spelling Method, but I would suspect that (given my experience with CMA forms and my recent small exposure to RyuTe's method of doing forms) the Spelling Method is the more correct of the two...

As I said in the another thread it really depends on the kata and which place in the kata you look at.
There is only one "wrong" way to look at kata.
If the technique works on anyone regardless of size then it is a correct application/interpretation..........if not then it is "wrong".
Having said that, some applications might not work because they are not well thought out..........they may just need some tweaking to make them effective. These tweaks might consist of changes in foot work, or hand position, maybe even the angle.


There is also another method called "kumiawase" which I might discuss later..............but let's see where this thread goes first.
 
Originally posted by RyuShiKan

There is only one "wrong" way to look at kata. If the technique works on anyone regardless of size then it is a correct application/interpretation..........if not then it is "wrong".
Having said that, some applications might not work because they are not well thought out..........they may just need some tweaking to make them effective. These tweaks might consist of changes in foot work, or hand position, maybe even the angle.

To summarize thus far:

Letter Method of techincal application
Spelling Method of technical application
Quantitative Evaluation for "rightness" of application

So far we are doing pretty good. I think we are on the right track with this discussion to this point...
 
You wrote (quoting a reference work):
The movement can be represented backward in the kata

I have seen examples of the other cases you mentioned but cannot think of an example of this--could you suggest one?
 
I sometimes wonder if it is really possible for a person, even a very knowledgeable one, to create a kata with as many hidden techniques as are claimed--I suspect we must see more than was put in there (as also happens with art). This is by no means bad, but I fear the creators of the kata are given too much credit for their ability to stuff techniques, ideas, and hidden secrets in there. I think much credit must be given to those who interpret the kata.

I like the idea that much of what is taught is useful movements--body motions--that have significant martial applications.
 
Yiliquan1

This is the first of four threads, this one being a lengthy review of some basic issues. My second will be a discussion of turns in kata, and my third a discussion of 25 principles (some discussed below) that make up the system I teach. In the fourth, I will show how the sequential movements in kata can work together to get the opponent on the ground, something I think very useful in a fight.

Thank you for keeping the discussion of sequential/nonsequential movements going on this new thread, and thank you for your request that we do our best to keep it down. I have much to say on the subject and would be very grateful if we would all try to add to the discussion, and where there is disagreement, we can all agree to disagree. This post clarifies some issues that have been raised previously, and in other posts I will try to describe just how I came to build a system based on sequential movements.

There is certainly a lot of bad bunkai out there, and an abundance of it comes from sequential movements. And, I would argue that the reason there is such bad bunkai, is not that so many karateka base them on sequential movements, it is that so many karateka don't understand many ideas outside of blocking, kicking and striking. The limited grappling that is done in most schools is to me, the big challenge, because so much of good bunkai has lots of grappling techniques.

For many in the martial arts, across many non-karate systems, there is often a general recognition that against a large opponent, it is likely not enough simply to hit/kick a person once or twice in the abdomen. (Perhaps after many, many years of training maybe, but not to the average martial artist.) Yet this remains so much of the standard bunkai in many schools and why so many people consider it ineffective. Rather many fighting systems realize that against a big opponent these initial techniques are just the beginning of the response. To be truly effective, having him upright is likely not to your advantage, where he has an advantage in his greater mass. Grappling techniques can bring the head and neck (good targets) into range by lowering them, or by putting a larger opponent on the ground where his greater mass can be less of an advantage.

Judo, Aikido and Ju Jitsu are rich, full arts. The starting assumption on a vast number of techniques is that there will be a takedown in the sequence of movments. Karate is a rich and full art, with the same roots as these systems. Why do so few schools practice extensive grappling. That, to me, is the question because that is, ultimately, the source of bad bunkai.

Bad bunkai is just that, bad bunkai. You can criticize it for all sorts of reasons. It comes down to impracticality or ineffectiveness. Whether it is because an opponent is expected to step backwards while striking, or because it is relies on a single strike with no follow up, or because it uses targets that are hard to hit, (solar plexus on a twisting attacker) or because the techniques lack enough power to be truly effective against a much larger opponent. The list goes on and on. There are lots of things that make bunkai combinations ineffective.

We could discuss at great length why. I think the answer is both simple, yet very complicated. But first, a digression. It is important to note the basic notion that a karateka's repertoire of useful applications comes from what he has learned and what he has developed for himself. In the early years of one's training, the scale is heavily tipped towards what someone has been taught. After many years of training, perhaps the scale becomes evenly balanced. I am not sure it ever balances completely.

IMHO, the simple reason that bunkai is so bad is because good bunkai has not been generously shared. If student doesn't know something, and was not taught it, you can only put so much of the blame on the student. It is my opinion that much blame must go to his teacher.

The very complicated reason why good bunkai has not been shared is well beyond the discussion of this post. We all have our theories. But the key issue is that so many karate schools (I would argue the vast majority) don't teach good bunkai. And I would also argue that the primary reason is that they don't have any good bunkai. They are not withholding it, they just don't have it. And what people come up with, in the absence of being taught good bunkai is often remarkably impractical. It is common to base movements on assumptions about a fight that simply often are not the case, as I stated in an earlier paragraph. The real problem, in my opinion is that the average karate school doesn't teach the basics of locking and throwing, attacking vital zones, good body mechanics, and obvious aspects of fight dynamics. There is no foundation of theory, or is it was known in Itosu's day, torite (theory of usage.)

Should the situation be remedied, and if so how? One obvious solution is that useful bunkai that teaches torite should be more generously shared. One great example is Oyata who has shared his ideas with a broad audience. And some of his ideas have been shared (correctly or incorrectly) by others. I have studied with several of Oyata's direct students and would spend much more time with them if I could. And of course much has been made of Dillman's brief training with Oyata. But he has been a big proponent of many of these concepts. (One can argue till the cows come home whether Dillman's frequent emphasis on knockout strikes are misguided or incorrect. That really isn't the point. He has put out several books and lots of tapes that cover many more basic, and less controversial movements that are fundamentally sound and useful.)

Those of us with concepts to share can make a real difference. I share my ideas with my students and with other Sensei (and their students) in dojos I am invited to teach in, and I have a number of dans from other karate systems that frequent my dojo as well. I also like to use forums such as this to reach out to a broader community. I have looked deeply at kata, using principles taught across many martial arts and added basic common-sense aspects of fighting and body mechanics to come up with 25 principles that make up my own personal kata-based fighting system, which I will share in a future post.

What needs to be said again and again in this forum is that I have never stated or implied that my system of bunkai is the right way or the only way. I have never implied that piecing together different non-sequential pieces of the kata is wrong or incorrect. It is an excellent mechanism, and one that is near universal. I have found another way that happens to be based on sequential movements. I like to share it because I think the principles that it is built upon (aspects of torite) are what is important, not the movements. I would like karateka to look at my general ideas and take from it what they can benefit from. In many cases, that will be nothing. Many karateka have found that their "way" meets all their needs. That is fine. And I expect, for many, my ideas will be too different from theirs to make use of.

However, there may be some students who are lacking, in one degree or another, in bunkai they consider useful, and they may never have been taught some basic principles (torite) that might help them to figure out good bunkai for themselves. And that is why I share my ideas.

My system is built on two basic foundations. I have come up with nothing new. I have the movements from Itosu's kata, and Itosu's 10 principles. In Nagamine's superb text, "Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters" Pat McCarthy has translated Itosu's 6th principle as follows:

"Handed down by word of mouth, karate is comprised of a myriad of techniques and corresponding meanings. Resolve to independently explore the context of these techniques, observing the principles of torite (theory of usage), and the practical applications will be more easily understood."

What are the principles of torite? Perhaps it was the art of ti, or toudi. 100 years ago, the Okinawan's had an art rich in grappling and pressure point striking, using many concepts identical to those found in Chinese systems. It was a Chinese text, the Bubishi, that contained a lot of these ideas, and was a source for some of Okinawa's great masters. McCarthy has translated this as well.

One example of a great master learning torite and then applying it to kata is Oyata. Here is an edited, but direct quote from a RyuTe web site. (http://www.kushu.com/aboutRT.htm)

After World War II, Oyata began training with Uhugushiku. The Uhugushiku family was noted for their martial art skills. Uhugushiku was known as a kakurei bushi, hidden warrior, and did not teach outside of family lines or those with no direct connection to the warrior class of Okinawa. Uhugushiku introduced Oyata to Wakinaguri, who was a descendent from Chinese emissaries. These two began to teach Oyata the ancient ways of Okinawan. After Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri passed away, Oyata sought other karate masters to continue his training. Under Nakamura, Oyata learned the 12 basic empty hand kata that are practiced in RyuTe簧 today.

Interesting parallel with Itosu's 6th principle. Oyata learned a rich system of fighting, before being introduced to the kata he teaches today. I have been taught by Oyata practitioners that much of his bunkai comes from his training under Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri.

This site does not say that today Oyata teaches the bunkai that Nakamura taught him. I have trained in dojos directly under three other Nakamura students, Odo, Higa and Kise, and these dojos are typical of those I have studied in that descend from other mainline Itosu students which includes systems stemming from Chibana, Funakoshi, Mabuni, Toyama, Mabuni and Nakama.(I have also trained in Nagamine's system, and he studied under both Motobu and Kyan, both of who spent some time under Itosu.) With the exception of Nagamine's system (and of course Oyata's), it has been my experience that virtually none of these systems have a strong emphasis on extensive bunkai. Neither do these "kata-based" systems have, in my opinion, high repetitions of kata needed to make bunkai (with lots of grappling) effective.

My point is that Oyata is the exception to the rule. He learned a great deal of torite outside of much of the mainstream karate that descends from Itosu. He is arguably the major single contributor to the resurgence of bunkai in many karate schools.

I have a system that I would also like to share. And it is different from his. My system is based on sequential movements of kata. I have shown on martialtalk.com several applications. If we use letters of the alphabet to describe movements, I have shown three sequences against four different attacks. They are as follows.

Against a right grab of the right hand - ABCDEFGHI
Against a left grab of the left hand - FGHIJKLMNO
Against either a right or left strike - JKLMNOP

These are four of 200 combinations I have. They all have takedowns, many with locking and escapes from grabs, in other words the techniques that require extensive partner work, as compared to basic block-kick-strike techniques. They are too numerous to master. I practice few kata and perhaps 75 combinations (which are still too numerous to master.) I practice just a few kata, as that is a more realistic way to do the massive number of repetitions (10,000 minimum), that I believe are necessary to get the many combinations to work such that they would be reflexive in response to an attack.

There has been some discussion of whether a sequential-movement approach is a basic approach. I won't argue that point. Two martial artists could discuss what is "basic" and what isn't at great length, and would probably never fully agree. I think it probably has a definition similar to that of beauty. Basic, is to some extent, in the eye of the practitioner. For example, in many karate systems, a particular throw, that would be taught to a beginner judoka might not be taught until brown belt level or higher. In many judo systems, a strike that would be taught to a beginner karateka might not be taught until brown belt level or higher. In some Tae Kwon Do schools, jumping kicks are taught to beginners. In some karate schools, they are taught much later. I consider many of my combinations to be basic because I teach them to beginners. These include locks, throws, sweeps and finishing techniques that many systems might not teach to beginners.

Every good, experienced karateka, develops his own fighting system. It is what works for him. (Pardon my political incorrectness, but I will say him, and I mean him/her or he/she.) I have my own fighting system. I explain it, (and more importantly I demonstrate it) to my students on their first few days of class. I also explain it below. Therefore, I would consider it basic, something I share with beginners. Some martial arts instructors might not pass on such principles to students for many years, if at all. They might not consider some of ideas that make up my fighting system basic. Some might have never considered some of my basic principles at all. I know that in the many dojos that I have visited and had a chance to share my "fighting system", it is often I find that many of the students had not previously considered many of the ideas. Again, my ideas are based on basic principles in the martial arts, and basic assumptions about fighting and body mechanics. I am not trying to imply I have "discovered" anything. I like many others, have studied widely, and integrated what I think are basic ideas about fighting found in many systems.

(Before I begin, I must give the obligatory martialtalk.com caveat. "The following description of my fighting system is not meant in any way to imply that there are not a vast number of equally good, or far better systems. There are many, many, many. I am only describing mine, and in no way criticizing others that differ from mine. I fully expect that some will fundamentally disagree with some, or all of my ideas, and that is to be expected because there is an incredible diversity of great ideas and no one person, style or system has all the answers.")

The above was not meant to be sarcastic in any way. It is just that I recognize the limitations of text and some may think that when I say this way works, there may be an implication that another way doesn't. I am not commenting on any other system, only mine.

Before I begin, another disclaimer. First, while I have many combinations against grabs, grab/strike combinations and kicks, much of my analysis focuses on strikes to the head. The combinations are designed to defend against a much larger person, who, in punching to my head, could very well be leveraging their greater mass and maximizing their power through a natural twist of the body. I view this as a very high probability, very dangerous attack. If either this initial punch, or perhaps the follow up, connect, (if he can deliver his greater mass, effectively to my face, or skull) I will likely be dazed, or even worse, and would then be at very great risk. My students and I train primarily to deal with this situation. (We also work on left/right, and right/left combinations, another very common attack.)

This twisting of the body to generate power on a hooking punch is a basic building block found not only in western boxing, but in PMA as well. (I would argue that it is a natural way to punch hard, more so than a straight punch, but that is a whole other long thread.) Again, I recognize that there are lots of other attacks, but it is my opinion, if I can be successful against this one, many of the others (simple grabs, e.g.) are simply less challenging. (grabs to the wrist, arms from the front, e.g.)

Essentially all my applications evade these strikes (both left and right) by pivoting off to the side. Some, like Naihanchi, close the distance as well. All use a body turn to help in both the initial evasion, and very importantly, to generate power in the block and counter, which are often simultaneous. I use successive turns found in kata to continue to generate power for follow up techniques that include lots of locks, more follow up strikes, and always, a takedown.

My techniques are all designed to assume a worst case scenario, which among other things, translates into multiple attackers. That means I have essentially no time with the initial attacker. I have perhaps two or maybe slightly more seconds to deal with an initial attack, before a second attack should be expected. Moreover, I don't expect to see the second attacker. (Fine if I do.) I would imagine that a smart second attacker would slip to my blind side while I was engaged with the initial attacker. It might only be a few steps at most, and might greatly increase his probability of success. Therefore I always expect the attack to come from behind, or close to it.

I believe I must always train to take down the initial attacker for two simple reasons. First, the finishing technique is most effective when the attacker is prone, and slightly dazed. When striking, or kicking to the head and neck, I leverage my mass above his for maximum penetration. Because I always assume he will be a good deal larger than me, it may be the only way I may be able to fully penetrate with the finishing technique.

Second, because there is always an assumption of multiple attackers, the takedown has extra importance. First, even if I can't finish the initial attacker, putting him on the ground gives me a little more time with the second attacker, before the initial attacker rejoins the fight. But far more important, the takedown in many cases can put the attacker in the path of the second attacker. I won't go into the many advantages of inserting the initial attacker in the path of the second. They are many, and this post is long enough.

The key issue, is that I always assume that a larger attacker is not going to let me close the distance and take him down. I almost always have to stun him, (and in some cases, weaken his stance), before I can close and finish the sweep, throw, etc. That stunning will take at least one good strike. To count on a good strike getting in, I almost always have multiple counters which not only include multiple strikes, but kick strike combinations, and lock-strike combinations. I need to ensure there is redundancy in my counters, because I can't always expect a single counter to stun a larger person. That is what the initial techniques are all about. They set up the takedown. They build off one another. They target useful areas. Critically, groin kicks and joint locks bring important targets (head and neck) of a tall person into my power range.

Again, I teach these basic principles to my students as soon as they begin, and they start immediately on combinations that are built around these "basic" principles. Where do I get my "basic" combinations that I teach my beginners? I start where Itosu thought it best to start. The system he built used Pinan Shodan as the foundation of the first year of training. The "basic" combinations that my beginner students practice all come from Pinan Shodan.

The "combinations" that I teach come directly from the sequential movements of the kata. I imagine you had the opportunity to read my four combinations for Naihanchi Shodan. They all were built around the principles outlined above. My bunkai for Pinan Shodan, and the other kata I teach, all use sequential movements. How my sequential movements differ from virtually every other system I have seen (and I have seen many) is that I use multiple turns in each sequence.

Let me give you an example. The opening of Pinan Shodan has three successive arm movements to the left, a mirror image of this to the right and a turn to the back for a kick.

To see these movements in the Matsubayashi system, see http://www.shorinryu.dk/html/kata.htm#pinan

Against a right strike from an opponent standing directly in front of me (not to the side), I use the motions to the left to block and strike twice to the neck, to stun. The kata has a an initial turn to the left which maximizes power on the block and near simultaneous counter strike. I learned from a student of Oyata's that two rapid strikes to the neck cause an overload to the nervous system.

Then, I utilize a "basic" principle of Ju Jitsu. I attack the striking arm. It is very likely extended (but space does not permit discussing why). I attack the elbow joint (triceps tendon) on the straight arm, with an arm bar, utilizing my mirror image rotation to my right to generate power. This brings the neck of the opponent to the front of my own abdomen, so my third arm movement is a strike to the back of the neck facing up. My pivot to the back (third direction) is the takedown, and this puts the attacker most often in a sitting position facing away from me. My kick is to his spine. It is a good finishing technique, but I could include others, including a neck snap using power of the 180 degree turn to the front.

Is this a useful technique? Like virtually anything else, utility is based on many things, especially repetition. I would argue that anyone who understands this technique, practices it with partners extensively over several years, and practices the kata at minimum 10,000 times over the same period, begins to enter the realm of usefulness. Doing the double strikes, utilizing body pivots, to a makiwara/bag/shield, is also important to increasing power.

Is it basic? I teach it to beginner students. It is one of about 20 such combinations that I teach to students in their first 3 months of training. This one of the more complex ones (three directions instead of the more common two directions, but they all share the same principles. By the end of their first semester, the beginners practice the movements in Pinan Shodan 1000 times each, in the air, and many additional times with partners and against bags and wall shields.

I fully appreciate the notion of "bad bunkai". I have seen much of that. In fact, I find much bunkai out there fundamentally counterproductive. Students don't have any confidence that the movements are truly useful and so may not be motivated to practice a kata the number of times needed to make any movements useful. I do my best to remedy this situation. I teach my students. I teach students at other dojos, and I share my ideas in other forums, like this.

I never tell my students that my ideas are the only ideas. My approach is very different. I open their eyes from day one to some amazing capabilities within kata, knowing that this might help to motivate them to practice the movements fast and hard. They do partner work almost immediately and they see just how remarkably ineffective a grappling technique is when you haven't practiced it 100s of times with partners. They recognize early how far they have to go to be able to have something work against an large aggressive attacker. Again, this motivates them to work harder at kata. I give them multiple interpretations of virtually every movement so they know what a pattern can do. So when we do 25 repetitions of Pinan Shodan, every class, they work hard to use this repetition to their advantage.

I don't include in my applications what I consider low probability attacks like, for example, where an attacker steps backwards two or three times while striking, and the defender marches forward blocking these strikes. Pinan Shodan has four consecutive stances to the front. My beginner students learn two combinations, one against a right head strike and one against a left head strike, and they learn how to use the forward steps to close the gap, strike, armbar, and takedown, against both a right and a left strike. Also, I don't tell them that the spear hand strike at the end of the pattern is a strike to the large opponent's abdomen. I show how it can be part of several different takedowns, or perhaps a strike to the neck.

There is lots of bad bunkai out there. I am doing my small part to remedy it. Next post - what are turns for?
 
from Mike:
Interesting parallel with Itosu's 6th principle. Oyata learned a rich system of fighting, before being introduced to the kata he teaches today. I have been taught by Oyata practitioners that much of his bunkai comes from his training under Uhugushiku and Wakinaguri.



Actually this is not correct.
Mr. Oyata learned many kobudo kata from Mr. Uhugushuku and 2 rather long empty hand kata from Mr. Wakinaguri plus a lot of the bunkai and how to discover bunkai before he ever stepped foot in Mr. Nakamura's dojo.
Interesting to note that his first two teachers, Mr. Uhugushuku and Mr. Wakinaguri, didn't "spoon feed" him bunkai either.
His first encounter with bunkai was quite by accident while he was training one day. He asked Mr. Uhugushuku about it and he confirmed Mr. Oyata's discovery. After that it would seem to have been a lot of studying done by Mr. Oyata with a few hints here and there and confirmations on techniques from his teachers. He had to endure a lot during his internship with them but I think he learned more and was able accomplish more the way they taught than the way most modern commercial dojo teach.
Mr. Oyata wrote a bit on how he was taught in his book called "RyuTe簧 no Michi". If anyone interested let me know.





from Mike:
This site does not say that today Oyata teaches the bunkai that Nakamura taught him. I have trained in dojos directly under three other Nakamura students, Odo, Higa and Kise, and these dojos are typical of those I have studied in that descend from other mainline Itosu students which includes systems stemming from Chibana, Funakoshi, Mabuni, Toyama, Mabuni and Nakama.(I have also trained in Nagamine's system, and he studied under both Motobu and Kyan, both of who spent some time under Itosu.) With the exception of Nagamine's system (and of course Oyata's), it has been my experience that virtually none of these systems have a strong emphasis on extensive bunkai. Neither do these "kata-based" systems have, in my opinion, high repetitions of kata needed to make bunkai (with lots of grappling) effective.



The part about Odo, Higa and Kise is true.
I have had some Odo and Kise yudansha students in my dojo as well and their training seemed to have an entirely different emphasis.
About 4 years ago I had one of Mr. Oyata's 3 dan students from the 1960's, a man by the name of Tsubota, in my dojo for about a year and it seemed the training he had done was more along the lines of Mr. Nakamura's type. Mr. Nakamura's son will even tell you they don't do much tuite, if at all.
 
I will try to answer your other question about reverse bunkai later I want to think of a good example that is easy to explain and easy to understand via the Internet.

Originally posted by arnisador

I sometimes wonder if it is really possible for a person, even a very knowledgeable one, to create a kata with as many hidden techniques as are claimed--I suspect we must see more than was put in there (as also happens with art). This is by no means bad, but I fear the creators of the kata are given too much credit for their ability to stuff techniques, ideas, and hidden secrets in there. I think much credit must be given to those who interpret the kata.

I like the idea that much of what is taught is useful movements--body motions--that have significant martial applications.

It would seem that kata is like an ink blot test.
People can look at kata and see all sorts of things and each person's idea is different. The only difference is there a pretty much no rules to what you are allowed to see in the ink blot test but in kata you are governed by the laws of body mechanics, laws of motion, and several other variables.
Having said that, techniques that don't follow these perametors fall flat and are like a "forced laugh" and are obviously lacking when seen by a skilled practioner.
Techniques should be natural and work with the above mentioned laws in order to be effective.
 
Originally posted by RyuShiKan
It would seem that kata is like an ink blot test.
People can look at kata and see all sorts of things and each person's idea is different. The only difference is there a pretty much no rules to what you are allowed to see in the ink blot test but in kata you are governed by the laws of body mechanics, laws of motion, and several other variables.
[/B]

A very good analogy, RyuShiKan!

Of course, in ink blot tests, seeing certain things is supposed to mean you're crazy! :D Still, good analogy.

Cthulhu
 
Originally posted by Sensei Mike

Thank you for keeping the discussion of sequential/nonsequential movements going on this new thread, and thank you for your request that we do our best to keep it down.

Well, in fairness to the Mod Gods, I figured that in order to better level the playing field and get the details of the rules of engagement better identified, a thread dealing solely with theory of breakdowns, not breakdowns themselves, was in order.

I have much to say on the subject

Given the length of your posts, it would certainly seem so... ;)

There is certainly a lot of bad bunkai out there, and an abundance of it comes from sequential movements. And, I would argue that the reason there is such bad bunkai, is not that so many karateka base them on sequential movements, it is that so many karateka don't understand many ideas outside of blocking, kicking and striking. The limited grappling that is done in most schools is to me, the big challenge, because so much of good bunkai has lots of grappling techniques.

So far I would say that is a fair treatment of the "state of the union" as it were...

For many in the martial arts, across many non-karate systems, there is often a general recognition that against a large opponent, it is likely not enough simply to hit/kick a person once or twice in the abdomen. (Perhaps after many, many years of training maybe, but not to the average martial artist.) Yet this remains so much of the standard bunkai in many schools and why so many people consider it ineffective. Rather many fighting systems realize that against a big opponent these initial techniques are just the beginning of the response. To be truly effective, having him upright is likely not to your advantage, where he has an advantage in his greater mass. Grappling techniques can bring the head and neck (good targets) into range by lowering them, or by putting a larger opponent on the ground where his greater mass can be less of an advantage.

Again, fair enough... Stating the obvious for some of us, but I suspect there are enough folks out there (hopefully some of them are reading these posts) that have never heard this before...

Judo, Aikido and Ju Jitsu are rich, full arts. The starting assumption on a vast number of techniques is that there will be a takedown in the sequence of movments. Karate is a rich and full art, with the same roots as these systems. Why do so few schools practice extensive grappling. That, to me, is the question because that is, ultimately, the source of bad bunkai.

When you say "grappling," just exactly what is it you are referring to? Do you mean to allude to joint locks a la chin na and tuite, or groundfighting a la BJJ/GJJ?

Bad bunkai is just that, bad bunkai. You can criticize it for all sorts of reasons. It comes down to impracticality or ineffectiveness.

And this was what I think the entire arguement/discussion came from in some of the other threads - lots of folks trying to point out that bunkai for bunkai's sake is nothing, and that bunkai have certain standards that must be met for techniques to be considered valid.

IMHO, the simple reason that bunkai is so bad is because good bunkai has not been generously shared. If student doesn't know something, and was not taught it, you can only put so much of the blame on the student. It is my opinion that much blame must go to his teacher.

At the same time, a teacher can attempt to teach high quality material to a substandard student, and that substandard student can go out, start to teach (because after all, these days who cares whether the teacher said you were qualified to teach or not? Just promote yourself to "super Soke" and start your own association...) and teach total crap regardless of what he was shown by his/her teacher...

But the key issue is that so many karate schools (I would argue the vast majority) don't teach good bunkai. And I would also argue that the primary reason is that they don't have any good bunkai. They are not withholding it, they just don't have it.

Hit the nail on the head for a lot of schools, I'm sure...

The real problem, in my opinion is that the average karate school doesn't teach the basics of locking and throwing, attacking vital zones, good body mechanics, and obvious aspects of fight dynamics. There is no foundation of theory, or is it was known in Itosu's day, torite (theory of usage.)

And here we come to one of my personal pet peeves... What I call "soccer mom karate syndrome," or the tendency of soccer moms to enroll their kids in a martial arts class between soccer seasons to keep little Jimmy and Sally out of her hair after school... Sure, sure, sure, kids classes are the bread and butter of commercial schools and without them many schools would go belly up, however, the "dumbing down" of karate to fit a typical 7 year old's mentality tends to spread like a virus through mini-mall schools nationwide... Not that I'm upset about that at all... ;) But the issue is that, in these kinds of schools, the teacher is endangering his meal ticket if he has half of the class trying to learn to do kata without soiling their own uniforms while the other half of the class is pounding each other within an inch of their lives thanks to vital point striking, powerful joint manipulation techniques, etc... Mommy will be disenrolling their kids from Sensei Billy Ray's after school karate class because they want Billy and Susie to learn discipline, but not how to fight (which is why they are in karate to begin with, right? As opposed to other athletic disciplines?) because that is violent and unacceptable... :(

What needs to be said again and again in this forum is that I have never stated or implied that my system of bunkai is the right way or the only way.

While I'm NOT a Mod God, we are trying to keep this a non-personal thread... Let's not "go there" with defending ourselves for whatever reason. So far in this particular thread we have avoided personal anything, so can we try to keep it that way? You opinions so far have been wordy, but I have agreed with them so far. I would hate for your informative post turn self-promoting and piss folks off, thereby drawing flames and getting another thread locked down...

Personal observation - there is a local karate school whose teacher is of good reputation and whose school is supposedly known for their skill at kata. I have watched class twice, and have yet to see any work on bunkai at all. Lots of kata repetitions, but no work on what is going on inside them. Why? My thought is because over half of the class is under 12, and there are only about 4 people over 18. While it is not his primary income (I don't see how it could be, but maybe I'm wrong), I think he would lose a good number of students if he started working on bunkai every night. And I'm not saying the teacher doesn't know bunkai, just that they don't practice them (so far as I have seen).

Gambarimasu.
 
Originally posted by Yiliquan1


And here we come to one of my personal pet peeves... What I call "soccer mom karate syndrome," or the tendency of soccer moms to enroll their kids in a martial arts class between soccer seasons to keep little Jimmy and Sally out of her hair after school... Sure, sure, sure, kids classes are the bread and butter of commercial schools and without them many schools would go belly up, however, the "dumbing down" of karate to fit a typical 7 year old's mentality tends to spread like a virus through mini-mall schools nationwide... Not that I'm upset about that at all... But the issue is that, in these kinds of schools, the teacher is endangering his meal ticket if he has half of the class trying to learn to do kata without soiling their own uniforms while the other half of the class is pounding each other within an inch of their lives thanks to vital point striking, powerful joint manipulation techniques, etc... Mommy will be disenrolling their kids from Sensei Billy Ray's after school karate class because they want Billy and Susie to learn discipline, but not how to fight (which is why they are in karate to begin with, right? As opposed to other athletic disciplines?) because that is violent and unacceptable...

Yiliquan1,

This has been a dilemma since the first Karate "class" over a century ago. It is said the Pinan katas were invented for just such a purpose..........to teach publicly and to teach children. Let my also state that they are still very formidable kata and by no means a "child's kata".
From what I have read on the Internet about how classes are run I would most likely be sued if I were to conduct my classes in the US as I do here.





Originally posted by Yiliquan1


You opinions so far have been wordy,

Mike,

I am not trying to start anything but would like to give you some friendly advice. I agree with Yiliquan1 on this.
Most people that read martial arts forums shy away from long posts, myself included. I think I am like most people in that I will skim a long post and if anything pops up I might read a bit of it. I don't why but I can read a huge martial arts book but when it comes to posts on BBs I don't bother.



Originally posted by Yiliquan1

Personal observation - there is a local karate school whose teacher is of good reputation and whose school is supposedly known for their skill at kata. I have watched class twice, and have yet to see any work on bunkai at all. Lots of kata repetitions, but no work on what is going on inside them. Why? My thought is because over half of the class is under 12, and there are only about 4 people over 18. While it is not his primary income (I don't see how it could be, but maybe I'm wrong), I think he would lose a good number of students if he started working on bunkai every night. And I'm not saying the teacher doesn't know bunkai, just that they don't practice them (so far as I have seen).

Gambarimasu.


Yiliquan1,

For better or worse this is the way many schools are run.
Here again we run into the problem of doing bunkai and risking the possibility of someone getting a slight "owie" (heaven forbid such a thing happen in a contact sport :rolleyes: ) and taking legal action or playing it safe, giving the students a good "workout".
I have talked to some of my friends in the US that run dojo and in their day they were "rock-n-rollers" and would spar full contact ever class, plus work on bunkai and everything else. However, they don't teach that way and I asked them "why not?". They said they were afraid of getting sued. I was shocked and told people just don't do that over here. They join a dojo or send their kids to one to build character and if that means they got knocked around a little then so bit. 7 times down 8 times up is a Japanese idiom that means if you get knocked on your can 7 times you still get back up. It's not just an idiom in dojo here though.
 
From what I have read on the Internet about how classes are run I would most likely be sued if I were to conduct my classes in the US as I do here
If I were to teach here in FL the same way I was trained 20+ yrs. ago in England, not only would we lose most of our students - I would probably be arrested for assault and/or child abuse! :EG:
 
Originally posted by fissure


If I were to teach here in FL the same way I was trained 20+ yrs. ago in England, not only would we lose most of our students - I would probably be arrested for assault and/or child abuse! :EG:


I think they way many dojo teach has really changed over the last 20 years.
It used to be that when people went to the dojo the wanted to sweat.................now it seems they just want rank.
 
First of three posts:

I think that many will agree that there are there are difficulties in using the net to describe many aspects of the martial arts. We all have different backgrounds, approaches, and views, and many believe in the correctness of their art. I am one of these. While some of us recognize that deep under the surface, "all is one", for most of us, we never get much below the surface and therefore, we see as many differences as similarities.

I have tried, with some success, to share some thoughts with this community, and what I found is that if I don't express my assumptions, if I don't build my arguments carefully, then I am just not going to make the case. What I am describing is a very uncommon approach to bunkai. For a variety of reasons, most karate schools don't have much in the way of good bunkai. And as I make my arguments, these folks are a big audience. I don't want to offend them. Just declaring that a common approach to bunkai doesn't work or is bad, is not likely to endear me to many practitioners. I need to explain the issue. I need to ensure they understand my reasoning by explaining so many assumptions. And my audience consists of seasoned veterans as well as newbies, whose experiences may be very limited.

Much of my wordiness relates to detailed descriptions of kata movements. I do not believe that you can be too wordy in discussing applications. Where is the attacker, what is his stance, what is the attack. Where do you wind up using tai sabaki, what targets do you hit, how you trap, etc. How does the takedown work? I teach everything I describe. It is hard enough getting people to understand bunkai when you show it too them. Complex techniques take a lot of words.

So mea culpa for being wordy. I don't have the luxury of an editor. And I add a lot of phrases like (in my opinion, and I believe) in an attempt not to offend people. For those that want to skip my posts because they are too long, great.

So following are two long posts that address what I think is much of the source of bad bunkai. I include long descriptions of sequential direction interpretations to make my point. (Opening of Pinan Yondan and Chinte).

For those that practice these kata, they may find some value in these interpretations.
 
There are some on this forum that have expressed the view that sequential movements in kata may not be effective. And these folks have plenty of good reason to believe this. There is a remarkable amount ineffective bunkai practiced today that is based on sequential movements. So if there is so much that is ineffective, why would I, and hundreds of people who have trained with me, recognize that sequential combinations make up hundreds of remarkably effective applications. It is a great question.

First, let's discuss "bad" bunkai. It is my opinion that the reason most bunkai is ineffective is that it is based on fundamentally flawed ideas about what is typically needed to subdue a much larger, aggressive, motivated attacker. If you don't understand what is your sequential movements from kata are unlikely to be effective. If, however, you have a more realistic understanding of what is needed to subdue a larger opponent, and then you look to the sequential kata movements for answers, then you will find kata is filled with a nearly inexhaustible supply of effective applications.

It is my opinion that the fundamental problem with the way many karate systems approach self defense is that it is built around the notion of ikken hisatsu (one strike, certain death). A much larger opponent launches a crushing right hook to your head. You block, counter with a reverse punch to his solar plexus, and the fight is over.

Let's consider this further. First, in the attack above, (the opponent twisting on a strike) it is my contention that the solar plexus is a very difficult target to hit. And if missed, the surrounding targets don't have much value, at least on an opponent much heavier than you. (pectorals, rib cage/breast bone, abdominal muscles.). So against a good number of natural strikes (those that attempt to bring the body mass into play by twisting), the target is not all that easy to hit. It is generally covered, so when moving, there is a bit of guesswork in locating it. A moving covered target.

Poor target selection is the first issue. But this isn't the real problem. For many in non-karate martial arts, the reliance of a single counter to drop a much bigger opponent is simply not an effective approach. Muay Thai certainly doesn't buy into this. Some PMA systems don't rely on a single counter. And plenty of Chinese systems respond with more of an overwhelming barrage than a single strike.

From a pure physiological perspective, dropping a much larger opponent with a single strike is a remarkably difficult thing to do. Can masters with many years of training do this? There are many that can. Can we lesser mortals who have work-a-day jobs and families, and students to teach, and many karate combinations to master, (and lots of other things in our busy lives) ever truly hope of getting there. I speak for myself and most of the vast community I have trained with. It is highly unlikely.

How important from a self defense perspective, is it to develop "ikken hisatsu" power? I would argue that the kata give you an abundant toolset that can enable you to finish off an opponent, but not with one single strike while he is standing. As I have pointed out in other posts, the best place to deliver killing power is when you are standing and your opponent is on the ground. If the strike or stomp goes to his head, the head can't bob back as it does when the attacker is standing. On the ground, the target much more fully absorbs the energy of the impact, causing more extensive damage. And instead of the larger attacker having an advantage in mass when he is standing, you now have the advantage in mass. You can bring your hundred or hundred-fifty plus pounds directly down to a vital zone that will absorb much of the energy.

So how does the opponent get on he ground? He must be thrown or swept. And how do you get an unwilling opponent to let you throw him? You typically have to counter (strike/kick) two to three times to stun him long enough to do the throw. And how do you stun him? You have to attack vital zones. And are there mechanisms to expose difficult to reach vital zones, such as the head on neck on a taller person, or the back of the neck on an attacker? Yes, there are a variety of locks, as well as knee and groin kicks that bring vital zones into your zone of power (in front of your own abdomen).

So I start with the primary assumption that we want to put the opponent on the ground, and that it might take several counters, as well as joint locks to set up the throw.

Is it always necessary to put an opponent on the ground to finish him, Absolutely not, and I have an example below that might finish the attacker before he put on the ground. However, there is another critical reason why we want to put the person on the ground. Against multiple attackers, we want to throw the opponent in the path of another attacker. This is the reason that of the 200 techniques I have developed, all include takedowns.

Back to the initial question that started this thread: the surprising amount of bunkai that is "bad" or ineffective. The important questions are the following. How common is it for systems/students to use only a single (or two) counter strike(s)? And how common is it to follow up with further techniques including takedowns? The unfortunate answer is that much bunkai employs but a single counter.

So let's assume that good fighting techniques don't rely on a single counter strike. They rely on a series of counters. And in many cases, the opponent will be thrown to the ground where, despite their greater mass, he can be at a great disadvantage, and not just to finishing strikes and kicks. In the case of a lone attacker, where the risk of the defender going to the ground is much less, there are scores of submission locks and chokes.

An underlying assumption of much of the good bunkai practiced today is that against a large opponent aggressively striking, the response of a single strike counter is not effective. Best to put the big guy on the ground where his mass is not an advantage. If not that, then best to utilize locking techniques that can bring hard to reach vital targets into your zone of power. In comparison, bad bunkai often relies on a single strike, perhaps two, or maybe a kick-strike combination. There is no follow up.

How have we gotten here? How has the rich Okinawan fighting art "lost its teeth"? I will argue that the answer is really very simple. Let me first state that this is complete conjecture on my behalf, and so I am making the disclaimer that I have no written evidence of this, and I have never been taught it. It is based on several assumptions that I will describe below.

One factor that has influenced my thinking on this is what I believe is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of turns. In system after system, the ikken hisatsu method works as follows. In the kata, you turn to face an opponent, you execute a brief block/strike combination, and you proceed to the next opponent who you must turn to face. If the ONLY reason for a turn is to face another opponent, then the only thing you have in your arsenal are the movements in a given direction. Therefore, I view the primary reason why so many systems practice bad bunkai based on sequential movements is that they use turns ONLY for facing an opponent. That completely restricts their kata movements to those in a single direction. I call this the "unidirectional" approach to kata. As I will show below, it is not only generally ineffective, but in some cases, it is meaningless, as there are just not enough movements in a direction to have any meaningful response.

Let's look at what the unidirectional approach gives us in Pinan Shodan. I will describe the motions in each direction. The first will be assumed to be a block (against a right or left head strike), or also against a kick (last two directions.) The movements to the back (block/kick/strike, block/kick/strike, supported block) will, for this analysis, be assumed to be three sequences, not one. Many systems practice them that way.

1st direction - block, two arm movements
2nd direction - (mirror image) block, two arm movements
3rd direction - block, one kick
4th direction - block, three arm movements, one each while stepping forward three times
5th direction - block, one arm movement stepping forward
6th direction - (mirror image) block, one arm movement stepping forward
7th direction - block, one kick, one arm movement
7th direction (sequence 2) - (mirror image) block, one kick, one arm movement
7th direction (sequence 3) - by one arm movement stepping forward
8th direction - block, one arm movement moving forward
9th direction - (mirror image) block, one arm movement stepping forward

For those that practice the "unidirectional" approach, since they only can make use of the movements from a particular direction, ikken hisatsu is pretty much the only alternative. Of these 10 combinations, six have a single follow up movement that could be a counter. Four have two follow up motions that could be used as counters, and one has three follow up motions that could be considered counters. And a number of systems have bunkai to the first two directions where the second arm movement is a second block, so therefore, they also rely on a single strike, a hammerfist to the neck. Which gives us 8 single counter strike responses, two kick-strike responses, and one longer response to the front. Bunkai for this longer combination to the front often involves an attacker stepping backwards while striking, something I would call a very low probability attack. To see some Shotokan single strike (and kick-strike) interpretations of the movements described above, you can view Heian Nidan videos at : (http://user.netomia.com/srsi/jm2.html). Some of these applications do have takedowns, which is not that common in a lot of Shotokan bunkai.

If we agree to the assumption that the single (and in many cases, double) responses may not be enough to drop the large attacker, how can we respond effectively to the attack.. The obvious answer is that we can add more techniques. The initial direction is viewed as just that, an INITIAL sequence, to be followed up with more techniques. Many systems do just this. One common approach is the practice of bunkai oyo, which adds follow ups including more counters, locks and throws. Much of the bunkai oyo I have seen is independent of any kata. It is a "blank slate" approach in that the followup techniques are not generally fixed but come from the repertoire of skills of the practitioner. There are lots of ways to take a person down or lock a joint, and anything is game. If a throw is involved, there is often a follow up with a finishing strike to the person on the ground.

In this forum, there has been much discussion regarding a different approach to bunkai oyo Here, additional techniques come directly from the kata, but again, are to some extent up to the student.

The bunkai oyo approach is superb approach to the issue of follow-up techniques needed after the initial counter. It opens up the attacker to a wide range of counters. But one challenge, especially for beginners, or those new to the intricacies of locking and throwing, is a lack of techniques to use. This, in my view, is the fundamental problem with karate today. The grappling has been left out in many schools. Students aren't taught joint locks, and pressure point strikes and throws. They are not taught to kick to the groin and strike to the neck. These techniques are not trivial and as any good student of Judo, Aikido or Ju Jitsu, these these grappling techniques have many, many not-so-trivial-to-master details that take years before they are effective.

This is a tiny scratch of the surface of basic grappling ideas that are all but absent in so many karate dojos today. And without these basics, the students are hamstrung. Unless they cross train in grappling systems, they don't have the tools to effectively analyze the rich technique in kata. But there is a way, that with a few basic principles any student can discover for himself great grappling techniques within the kata, and that is simply through a careful analysis of the movements that come from sequential directions in kata.

This is an alternative to the bunkai oyo approach. It simply uses the movements of the next direction in the kata to continue the combination against the attacker. I have done this 200 times and the results are convincing. The second direction (and sometimes the third) work with the initial directions as an integrated unit. I have much to say on this later.

I am somewhat surprised that when karateka look for additional technique to complete a unidirectional kata sequence, that such an obvious source is so rarely considered. It is the very next direction, and it is a vast untapped resource. The whole question that started this thread is such a good one. For follow-up to an initial directional sequence, how many systems look to following directional sequences for the follow-up movements needed to get the opponent on the ground. I have looked extensively and although I have found a couple of bunkai-oriented schools with an application or two, there are very few schools that make much use, if any, of the next direction for follow-up

Since I have documented so many brilliant combinations that are predicated on the multiple-direction approach, it is rather surprising to me that so many great karateka don't consider this deep reservoir of technique. (They are brilliant not because I have created them. They are brilliant because they are so incredibly elegant. I use that term in the engineering perspective of a solution that does much with little, or with great simplicity.) And after finding 200 of these follow-ups, all with takedowns, I am thoroughly convinced that the kata must have been designed with them in mind. It is simply a coincidence on too massive a scale that mere chance would have included all these effective follow-up strikes locks and throws that flow from a multidirectional approach to bunkai analysis.

I have two examples, that follow (just one percent of what I know is there). To help the reader to understand why I believe the multidirectional approach is a proper way to analyze kata. I will compare two kata sequences from both a multidirectional and a unidirectional "ikken hisatsu" interpretation.

In the first, I will describe the technique carefully and discuss the need to do the striking on a bag. It is my deepfelt conviction that for a person to appreciate the effectiveness of a complex striking sequence, they need to hit a resistive object (makiwara, wall-mounted pad, or heavy bag.) To make a complex combination work a person must hit the bag thousands of times. But just to accept whether it works, you need to hit the bag to feel if it is effective. For locking and throwing techniques, you have to do it on partners, preferably much larger ones if you can find them. Again, we are talking about massive repetition, perhaps hundreds of times. So as I describe my initial technique, I describe the need do the strikes against a heavy bag. (Shields or pads can be a substitute, but a bag is best.)

Let's imagine an attacker, not more than 4 or 5 inches taller than us, is striking with a powerful right hook to our head. (For argument's sake his right foot is forward. And our feet are in the ready stance that begins a kata, or equidistant from the attacker.) Now most of us are right handed, and despite our years of balanced makiwara and bag work, most of us have the preference of blasting him back with our right hand. Now imagine we are in close (a hook means he is in close.) Let's leave aside the block for just a moment, so for argument's sake assume we successfully blocked. You are in very close and now crank hard to your left and plant an elbow in his neck. If it lands, most of us would agree that there is not a much better initial counter, because, at least for us right-handed folks, an elbow coupled to a big twist is enormously powerful and the neck is loaded with good targets. There are an abundance of nerves and blood vessels relatively unprotected by muscle. If this is a good counter, and I believe many of you would believe that to be the case, we should do it on the bag many thousands of times, after which, it gets really effective.

Why is this technique so powerful. It comes from body rotation. But after completing the pivot, I am in a less advantageous position. So I want to hit him again, and need to rotate back to my right. This is the way boxers both train on the heavy bag, and hit in the ring. They use their body rotations side to side. Now instead of hitting with my left on the second strike, I am going to hit again with my right. A shuto with my right hand to the other side of his neck. Again, I want to practice this combination against the bag thousands of times, back and forth, until my pectoral muscle (supporting the elbow) and outside of my arm/deltoid (supporting the shuto) are conditioned to keep the elbow and arm in place relative to the body. Once you start hitting the bag, you immediately realize how ineffective the shuto can be if it isn't coupled to a pivot of the body. But practice against the bag enough, and you learn to link your arm to your torso, so that you can strike with great force, but with essentially no arm movement at all. Twist left, right elbow, twist right, right shuto. You use your body to generate power, back and forth on the bag.

Now imagine that these two actually connect. Unless the attacker outweighs you by 100 lbs, or has a massive neck, this is likely to daze him. And that is all you are looking for, as it gives you the opportunity to set up the finishing strike. To do that we are going to use an arm bar to weaken his stance, and then another arm bar to set up the finish. Remember this hook had the right foot forward, and therefore his stance is strong to his right (your left) and weak to his left, your right.

But before we do the lock that will bring his head down, we have to understand the simple block that we skipped over before. Go to the bag and practice it. Raise your left hand to your right ear, palm to the head. Go to the bag and rotate as hard to your left as possible, striking the bag with your left forearm, and WITHOUT moving your left arm more that six inches relative to your body. Smash the bag over and over with the flat top of your forearm (radius/ulna combined) using just your counterclockwise turn to the left for power. Even if it initially feels relatively weak, it is amazing how much just 100 strikes to the bag (all with the body) lets your body know which muscles need to be flexed to hold your arm firm as you deliver your body mass to the bag. In actual application, the left hand will extend slightly on the block, but to learn how to leverage the mass of the body it is simple. Raise the left to the opposite temple, rotate to the left, and hit the bag as hard as possible with no or minimal arm movement.

Remember you have your feet in the ready stance of the kata, which in many Okinawan systems have the toes out, relative to the heels, which are shoulder width. You will pivot on the ball of your right foot, which moves the heel to your right about 18". You then shift your weight almost completely to the right leg, sitting back a bit, while blocking. By shifting your weight to directly over your right leg, you pull your head further off the line of attack. And since this is a hooking strike, it tends to follow you on your path. But your block, which leverages your body mass, effectively intercepts this powerful strike and requires minimal hand movement after raising the left hand to the right temple. The right leg is slightly bent, because it has to spring into the next technique. (The shorter the attacker, the more bent the back leg can be. Your elbow has to reach his neck, so if his is 6" taller and you drop 6" into your stance, you have just about put yourself out of range.) A summary of the turn. The twist, 90 degrees to the left, first gets your head off the line of attack by pivoting the heel out and sitting back on the right leg.). The rotation also adds power to both the left block and right elbow to the neck which are simultaneous. Remember the left block begins against the attacker in front of you, by passing past your right temple. Then both the block, as well as the simultaneous elbow benefit from this pivot to your left.

Once you have fully rotated, (and blocked and countered), you are poised to do your second counter, with the reverse rotation, and here you will do two things at once. You have your left forearm in contact with his hooking forearm. In addition to striking his neck with your right shuto, you are also going to simultaneously attack his striking arm with an arm bar using your left arm. You are going to wrap it and pin it to your neck. All you need is to drop your left hand far enough down so it clears his right arm (no more than a foot). Your pivot to the right (right strike to the neck and arm bar) will be preceded by a shift of weight from your right leg to your left, which brings your center of gravity under his striking arm. The bent right leg in the first stance helps you to spring into this shift of the weight. You need to shift your weight towards the attacking arm because the arm bar is most effective with your hara (center of gravity) directly under it.

During the twist to your right you will raise your left elbow up and use upper part of your left arm to trap his forearm against your neck.. The left hand which raps up over the top ends up around your own temple. The crook of your elbow his upper arm, or perhaps just around the elbow. The closer to the elbow the better. If the attacking arm is very bent to start with (it was a hook), you need to make the wrap more of a strike of your forearm (and crook of your elbow) against his elbow, pulling his arm hard against your own neck, which ensures it is straight so the arm bar can continue. The power for this lock comes from the hard rotation to the right., which also generates power for the right strike to the neck. The strike to the neck is a strike, followed by an extension of the arm which is a push. With his right arm locked, a push to the neck causes the head to drop down perhaps a foot on a large attacker, (more on a smaller person).

Now you will attack the weak point in his stance, his left side. You will drive your left foot forward, in a deep stance and take advantage of his bend to your right by driving your left hammerfist/ulna, which is wrapped over his arm, down hard into the juncture between his shoulder and his triceps. This will cause the body to flatten out and break the continuous body-arm plane. You will use your weight which is dropping down into this front stance to do this. Once you feel the shoulder/arm plane weaken, (the arm bends upward, relative to his body, which is flat), you can continue with your right hand. Your right forearm is going to rake the triceps tendon, pinning it to your chest. Remember, you need to hit that shoulder joint hard on a big guy to get this to work. Your right ulna is striking, raking, and squeezing his elbow to your torso, leveraging your rotation to the left. Your left hand maintains pressure at the deltoid/triceps connection.

Remember you have a left foot forward. You have used this lock to expose a vital target, the back of his neck, but it is out of reach. You are going to step forward again (right foot), driving your right leg under his head. (Against a smaller opponent, you can usually drive your knee right into the side of his head. But against a taller one, it generally slips right under.) The counter is immediate. The right arm (but not the left) releases the lock on the elbow, and then in you raise your right hand straight up, before dropping your right elbow (and some weight) directly down on the back of his neck. His head can't drop, at least not more than a few inches, because it is on, or slightly above your right thigh.

Let's review what we have. A strong turn to your left to generate power for the block and elbow strike, and shift off the line to sidestep the strike (tai sabaki or body shifting). Then a strong turn to the right to generate power for the right strike to the neck and the armbar. A drop of the weight coming forward with the left foot for a very effective arm bar using both your arms to attack two different points on the arm after the opponents' stance has already been weakened. Finally, a finishing technique with one more stance coming forward.

Pivot left, pivot right, step to the front (long) step to the front (medium to long). Two seconds no problem.

We're not done. You have hit him three times. One or more may have missed. You have taken all the time you can with this opponent, as your two seconds are up. That is about all we can allow ourselves before assuming a second attacker has launched from behind. So you have to protect your flanks, as well as get this guy to the ground if you haven't finished him. You need a takedown. You still have his arm against your chest. You will do four things simultaneously. First, for a great number of throws you want to move your hara up against the where the throw is occurring. So here you bring your left foot (back) up to your right. At the same time, you pivot hard clockwise (to your right) nearly 180 degrees. At the same time, the right hand, after completing the elbow attacks the neck further by pushing down and pulling in towards you, with a ridge hand. This is a vigorous pull in towards you. Lastly, your left hand, while continuing the pin of the opponent's right arm, grab the crook of his elbow (grabbing the forearm works in many cases) and drive it out directly opposite the angle your right hand is pulling towards you. Just like as strike you push and with one hand and pull directly back with the other.

This takedown inserts him in the path of an attacker from the back right. The first four movements are nearly precisely the opening four movements in Pinan Yondan. (The last strike with the elbow is a very modified outside block with a huge arc that gets the arm straight up in front of you just before the downward strike of the elbow, but the end position is just about the same.) The fifth step for the takedown doesn't include a rotation in the kata, but the hand moments and final stance are very similar.

You can see a good version of Pinan Yondan by downloading Pinan IV from the Copenhagen Matsubayashi site. (http://www.shorinryu.dk/html/indexe.htm). The only real differences are the trajectory of the initial block, and the second counter strike, which is a mirror image of the initial block. (as well as the big spin on the takedown, noted above). In virtually all systems the block is lower (to protect the solar plexus, perhaps), and it has a more abbreviated path directed to the direction of the turn. But it is a very minor modification to extend the circular hand motion so that your left hand passes your right temple on its path to the final position. (And the same in the turn to the right).

Please note the direction of the right elbow in Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu. Like Kobayashi, and Shobayashi, it points forward, an obvious counter strike. Many other systems (e.g. Shotokan and it's derivatives Wado Ryu and Kyokushin, Shito Ryu, the Toyama derivatives of Shudokan and Koeikan, and at least some Nakamura derivatives, and the Hohan Soken derivatives) have the right elbow pointing not forward but pulled far back towards the defenders right ear. This position "hides" the elbow strike to the front. You can see this in the Shotokan version (Heian Yondan) at: (http://www.ctr.usf.edu/shotokan/kata.html) Also note the slow, deliberate opening hand movements, pretty unique to Shotokan. Perhaps more hiding? Who knows.

Let's compare this multidirectional approach to bunkai with the unidirectional approach in the ikken hisatsu community. There is a big hole here. In the "traditional" method of turning to face your opponent, he is not in front of you, but directly to your side. He steps in to strike, and you pivot 90 degrees to face him and block with your left shuto raising your right hand, palm out to just next to your right temple. There is no tai sabaki, as you don't step off the line of attack. You don't get near as much power in the block from this twist, as compared with an attack from the front. And with this simple movement, you're done. The technique is over because the next move in the kata turns to the right with a mirror image of the technique to the left.

As a result, many systems have had to add some bunkai oyo to make this work. One approach in a few systems is to use the right raised hand to strike out with a shuto to the opponent's head. One approach is to use this movement to escape a variety of grabs (I do this too and there are plenty of ideas.) But for many systems, the unidirectional approach often means they ignore this movement in kata and don't practice bunkai for it.

This opening pattern is repeated in the openings of both Kusanku/Kanku Dai and Sho, (minus the initial movements to the front of Kusanku Dai) as well as Matsukaze/Wankan. The hand motions are slightly different but there is a block to one side, then a mirror image block to the other. These all can be seen at: : (http://www.ctr.usf.edu/shotokan/kata.html)
 
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