In communities such as this one, we frequently discuss techniques that are hidden in kata. We acknowledge that the definitive application for most kata movements, if one ever existed, has been lost. We may even go so far as to point out the ineffective methods of training employed by karateka who have been irrevocably indoctrinated into the cult of unrealistic bunkai. People like Iain and other members of this forum have made great efforts to tease out possible techniques concealed in kata. They have poured over primary and secondary accounts of the various writers of kata, analyzing the styles they probably knew, their mental dispositions, their physical attributes, and other relevant qualities. If the product of their research is not accurate, it is, at the very least, highly convincing.
However, technique (I'm including kihon in this broad category) is not the only aspect of martial arts training. First of all, there are different ways to communicate technique. Some teachers insist on practicing techniques in thin air and with partners, while others promote partner training exclusively. Some encourage students to begin learning techniques slowly, only graduating to speed after becoming technically proficient and developing control--others believe that the only worthwhile training is with full speed and impact. Additionally instructors can employ a variety of conditioning techniques, drills (often to develop flow or sensitivitiy as opposed to pure technical skill), and meditations,
Here we often think of karate as being a collection of techniques passed from masters to their students, and recorded ambiguously in kata. But what of the other aspects of karate training? What do we know of the specific training methods used by Anko Itosu and Sokon Mastumura for example? Did they always train at full impact? Did they strike rocks with their bare hands? Did they incorporate drills resembling sticky hands or push hands from their kung fu tutelage? Do we even have the documentation to shed any light on this question whatsoever?
With that question posed, I would like to say that I admire the color seemingly inherent in karate. For an art that originated in such a small land, there is an immense amount of diversity among techniques and methods. Even if much of the "truth" of the masters is unknown or hidden, karateka have often succeeded in preserving a sense of diversity. I say this to explain that by inquiring as to the methods of earlier teachers, I am not condemning the brilliant drills and insights that many intructors today contribute. My question is academic in nature. :)