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Tez
Tez's picture
No Bunkai in Wado Ryu karate?

On another martial arts site there's a discussion on Bunkai I was partcicpating in, Iain's name has come up, only good words I'll  hasten to add but the subject of Bunkai in Wado has also come up...as being non existant. Quite insistantly one gentleman has told me a couple of times that there is no Bunkai in Wado katas, and to look for it is pointless. I'll quote him here "I have no axe to grind about Bunkai, ground work, Knife defense or defense against a piece of fruit - in Karate Kata...

It’s just that it’s not there in Wado Kata - never has been - and it’s a waste of your time (as a Wadoka) trying to find it. imo.

Best to look at the principles of movement you are learning from them - then combining that with the Wado's paired kata...

At that point you have half a chance of connecting the dots."

The discussion is a perfectly amiable one, it's just my ignorance is showing badly lol! When I started Wado Ryu 20 years ago we did do Bunkai though this gentlemen insists it wasn't, admittedly I found it hard but that was my poor understanding not my instructors. so, is it true there is no Bunkai in Wado Ryu, if it is what is the kata for then? Surely those who do Wado aren't wasting our time are we?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
  1. I've had this issue too with several Wado'ists. They tend to never look outside the box, they practice the Ohyo and Gumite Gata till they so it in their sleep but pay no attention to what is staring them in the face all these years.
  2. I studied Wado for around 4 years but was let down when I was unable to pull off one of Ohyo's against a Tang Soo Do'ist because he "didn't attack me properly"
  3. I study Jissen based style of Karate now, but still practice WITH BUNKAI 5 traditional kata.
  4. You need to follow your heart, if you want to look at bunkai Definately get yourself to one of Iain' s Seminars and order his books and DVD's at least on the Pinans to see what it is you've already been practicing all these years. True Karate/Kod-Te is more like Quin Na and Jujitsu than Jujitsu itself.Karate IS a complete style and just needs a lifetime's study to realise that, OSU
Joshua.Harvie
Joshua.Harvie's picture

To be fair the average Wado-ka in my experience seems ignorant of the fact that Wado was intended to be a combination of Karate and Jujutsu. It seems to me that the average picture of Otsuka seems to depict him doing the kinds of things typical of Jujutsu rather than what most would consider 'Karate'. Perhaps those who study the jujutsu element as well have a better understanding of realistic kata application? Any one here have any experience surrounding that?

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Erm.. I thought that Wado kata were mostly Shorin Ryu derived, is that not correct?

If so..there's your answer, they are basically Shurite/Shorin kata and can be treated as such.in terms of bunkai, I would think.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Tez,

Tez wrote:
Quite insistently one gentleman has told me a couple of times that there is no Bunkai in Wado katas, and to look for it is pointless. I'll quote him here "I have no axe to grind about Bunkai, ground work, Knife defense or defense against a piece of fruit - in Karate Kata...

It’s just that it’s not there in Wado Kata - never has been - and it’s a waste of your time (as a Wadoka) trying to find it. imo.

The major problem with this line of thinking is that there is no such thing as “Wado kata”. There is “kata as practised by Wadoka”, but there is no “Wado kata”. What I mean by that is that the kata were around long before the existence of Wado and hence the original structure, nature and purpose of those kata were determined by their originators. The Pinan Series was created by Itosu, Kushanku was created by Tode Sakagawa, Chinto was created by Soken Matsumura, and so on. These men intended their creations to have direct applications i.e. bunkai.

 I don’t see how it is possible for later generations to retroactively alter history and say that because they don’t practise bunkai, and instead chose to make use of kata in a way different from its original intention, that the original intention is somehow changed.

So to say “It’s just that it’s not there in Wado Kata - never has been” is entirely inaccurate. The kata were originally created for that purpose, long before Wado existed as a style. Bunkai always was there in the kata and still is there for the reasons stated above (i.e. there is no “wado kata” and the true purpose of kata was determined by the creators of those kata, not subsequent generations).

It’s fair enough to say, “we don’t practise bunkai and use our kata differently from how it was originally intended to be used”, but to claim exclusive ownership of kata that are also practised in other styles, and are not the product of that group, in order to redefine the original intent of those kata is not tenable in my view.

It’s also worth noting that all of Otsuka’s karate teachers (Funakoshi, Mabuni, Motobu) were clear that there was direct applications (bunkai) in the kata that they taught to Otsuka. The Wado kata themselves have not been changed in a significant way and have been passed on largely as taught: a few stylistic modifications, but the structure and sequence remain unaltered. There is nothing that has been done to the kata to remove the applications that were always there; as a comparison of Wado kata with the equivalent kata of all other styles will clearly show. The direct applications of that kata are all still there for anyone who wants to look.

There are plenty of Wadoka who do want to explore the original purpose and application of the kata they practise (i.e. bunkai). And there are others who wish to approach kata in an alternative way and who never explore bunkai.  There are also practitioners of other styles who make similar claims i.e. “there is no bunkai in our kata”. So in these regards, Wado is no different to any other style. I don’t see this as being an issue being unique to Wado; it’s just that in this case the question has been framed in that way.

Some Wadoka I know make the exploration of the applications of their kata a central part of their study. Others use the kata for alternative purposes. The same can be said of Shotokan, Shito-Ryu, Kyokushin etc, etc. People are free to practise as they think best and see fit. However, regardless of system of origin, just because people chose not to practise bunkai does not mean it does not exist. Also, a modern change in intent can’t alter history or retroactively change the original intent and fundamental nature of the kata practised.

My putting a samurai sword on the wall as decoration – with no intention of ever using that sword combatively – does not mean swords were originally intended to be decorative items. My son’s enjoyment of modern archery against straw targets does not mean bows and arrows were never intended for use in battle or hunting. Likewise using kata as a movement exercise does not mean it was created for that purpose or that its fundamental nature is entirely erased by that change in intent.

We did have a pretty in-depth conversation about this on the old forum and the conclusion reached was that the Wadoka who think this way tend to see their art as being primarily ShindoYoshin Ryu jujutsu with the karate element being little more than “seasoning”. They therefore put little emphasis on the depth of the karate side of that they do. That’s fair enough, it’s just when they extend that to state that because they don’t look at kata in-depth that it has no depth; because they don’t study the applications of kata then the kata have no applications; and because they make use of a kata as a movement exercise it always was a movement exercise and has no fuction outside of that. All three of those claims can easily be shown to be false.

Their approach to kata may work perfectly well for them, and I’m certainly not having a go at alternative approaches to kata or those who adopt those approaches. It’s not for me, but if it’s giving them what they need inline with their own training objectives then more power to them. What is open to objective criticism is the denial of the origins of their kata and the failure to acknowledge the original purpose of their kata.

It should also be remembered that a modern change in intent cannot be applied retroactively through history; nor should exclusive ownership be claimed of a kata by any single group or style when that kata significantly predates the style in question and are practised – in their various incarnations – widely beyond that given group or style.

All the kata practised today by wadoka were created to have direct combative applications. They therefore obviously have bunkai; regardless of whether people chose to practise that bunkai or not.

All the best,

Iain

PS As an aside, a while ago I did a pretty in-depth podcast on bunkai vs. principles of movement as an explanation of the nature and structure of kata:  http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/occams-hurdled-katana-podcast

MrWintersho
MrWintersho's picture

Dear brothers,

Iain`s argumentation is quite covering the theme. Their are mainly two decisions to make by a MA:

I train to fulfil character, be humble etc. and go the competeive sportstour or

I train to fulfil character, be humble etc. and go the self-Defence-tour.

Reasons everytime are personal, and change between those two ways are possible in every age. If you stick to route 1, normally you study one style in dephts of movement, clear technique, spirit etc. not being aware the possibilities of movements during a fight.

If you stick to route two than there is a great chance to come to a point where the understanding grows that differing in different styles makes no sense `cause they have all same roots and one principle: get out of a threatenig situation safe and quick. Then the study of bunkai and practicing in dojo with a partner is necessary, following the shu-ha-ri principle.

It`s up to everybody, no need to dicuss the question "real meaning of kata", just find out yourself.

With respect

osu

Frank

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi Frank,

Unfortuantely I think there is a third decision.

 train to fulfil character, be humble etc. and go on to do psuedo-sports/self-defence - because I dont know there is a difference between the two.

Andy_R
Andy_R's picture

Hi All,

I'm a Wado practitioner and we've got a very good discussion going on here.  I've had a similar chat with my sensei about bunkai and he claimed at the time there was none for Wado Ryu.  But when explaining kata motions in the same class he said "This movement is used to pull in your opponents arm and attack their solar plexus", playing devils advocat I held up my hand and said is that then your opinion of the bunkai for this movement??

In Tatsuo Suzuki's DVD's he also shows uses of kata motions (some perhaps not as practical as others) but still showing us that forms of Bunkai are practiced I believe.

Andy

Lyndon
Lyndon's picture

I'm a little surprised that anyone can believe that there is no bunkai in any kata, unless they're admitting to learning a Martial Art with a bit of dance on the side...

Even if you're performing the kata for competitive purposes where it's supposed to be all shiny and neat, surely when you make a punching or blocking movement you are aware that it's supposed to have been a punching or blocking movement?  No one (please tell me they don't) spends time teaching beginners punches, blocks and kicks and then doesn't describe the moves in the kata under the same terms, surely? 

OK, Heian Shodan (Shotokan) for example... how do you teach that without saying "and here's a downward block, and here's a punch" etc.  That there are more in depth applications to these moves is another thing and whether you want to know them or not is up to you, but you have to admit that there are moves in there that should allow you to defend yourself (block/punch) - so if that's not bunkai at its simplest form, what is it?

But each to his own I suppose...

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

All,

I am the Ignorant "Gentleman" that posted that on Tez' other forum she mentions.

I'll get straight to the meat of my point:

I take Iains point about Kata originating before Wado that's a given, however mine is that; in my experience, Wado as a style does not utilise the "process of Bunkai" within its pedagogy (in the same way as Okinwan styles do for example).

To be clear though, I am not suggesting that Wado Kata are performed without an understanding of the purpose and application of the techniques found within the "omote" of the kata - it's just in Wado it tends to stop there.

IE there is no disassembly or dissection of the surface level techniques - no change in their form away form the appearance within the kata - it is "Kaisetsu" in this respect "physical commentary" for want of a better word.

Train with the likes of Ohgami, Arakawa and Hakoishi etc and that's what you get.

The opening move of Pinan Nidan for example is "Otoshi Tettsui-uke" to defend against a chudan punch (exactly how it is performed in the solo kata) - What you see is what you get!

In my experience, the more creative side of things tends to turn up when you train some paired kata like Idori or Kihon Kumite - and that's where the point is being missed I think.

Gary

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Wado, I'm sure it depends on the lineage of Wado one follows as my Wado Sensei and various Wado Ryu and Wado Kai Sensei I have had the pleasure in training with do break down the kata into component parts. Although I agree definately more enphasis is on the Idori, Gumite, Ohyo Gata and 2 man combinations etc

Tez
Tez's picture

Thank you for all your answers, the reason I asked is because I'm fine with actual Bunkai, the doing of it but not so much with the history, the personalities etc. I learnt the idea of Bunkai and some 'techniques' while training Wado Ryu and seeing it explained by Iain on seminars, no one told me that there wasn't Bunaki In Wado as plainly there was. I needed to have this explained to me. I don't have an instructor who has the time to do that these days as we don't train anything other than MMA with the adults, I teach children TSD and I do my best, as the katas are practically the same, to pass on what I can in the way of Bunkai, that's why this site and Ian's and everyone elses input is so important for me so thank you again.

I didn't cross post this btw onto the other site, someone else did.

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Lyndon wrote:

I'm a little surprised that anyone can believe that there is no bunkai in any kata, unless they're admitting to learning a Martial Art with a bit of dance on the side...

Even if you're performing the kata for competitive purposes where it's supposed to be all shiny and neat, surely when you make a punching or blocking movement you are aware that it's supposed to have been a punching or blocking movement?  No one (please tell me they don't) spends time teaching beginners punches, blocks and kicks and then doesn't describe the moves in the kata under the same terms, surely? 

OK, Heian Shodan (Shotokan) for example... how do you teach that without saying "and here's a downward block, and here's a punch" etc.  That there are more in depth applications to these moves is another thing and whether you want to know them or not is up to you, but you have to admit that there are moves in there that should allow you to defend yourself (block/punch) - so if that's not bunkai at its simplest form, what is it?

But each to his own I suppose...

I teach the movements with the applications (side by side). For example I spent some time with my Blue Belt going through Yondan Kata, learning the sequence of the 3rd and 4th moves Gedan Juji Uke  and the Morote Uke. As I teach the sequence and then then the bunkai the student is taught the Juji Uke is an armlock, and then the Morote Uke is a strike to the back of the opponents head.

I translate these two techniques to - Lower Cross Armed Technique and Double Handed Technique. I do not use the term block as uke does not mean block, I also do not use the term recieve, as at this stage it would confuse the students, I find using the word techniques works fine. The students are also told that the names came after kata were created and standardised. Also the names just describe the form of the movement and not necissarily, what that movement actually does.

Also I teach a second set of applications for those two techniques above, to remind the students that there can be many different applications to each move, and to think of each move as having a single application, will limit their study.

So that is how I teach without saying "and here's a downward block, and here's a punch". 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Gary,

Thanks for posting that and clarifying where you are coming from:

GaryWado wrote:
I take Iain’s point about Kata originating before Wado that's a given, however mine is that; in my experience, Wado as a style does not utilise the "process of Bunkai" within its pedagogy (in the same way as Okinwan styles do for example).

I know there will be some who use the “Wado” label who will say bunkai is a part of “their Wado”, but I take your point here and would agree with the general observation. I think the same could be said of many other styles that no longer make use of kata from the perspective of bunkai (i.e. direct application of technique and principle within the context of civilian self-protection).

The distinction between “Wado as a style does not utilise the process of bunkai" as opposed to “It’s just that it’s not there in Wado Kata - never has been” would seem to be key in this discussion and I think the above quote makes things clearer.

Do you post under the name “Sojobo” on the martial talk forum? If so, I’ve taken the liberty of posting your(?) summation here as I think it also helps succinctly clarify where you are coming from:

Sojobo on Martial Talk wrote:
I am not saying that in the Kata where Wado kata originated from Bunkai isn't there? I am saying that Wado, as a school, traditionally do not utilise the process of bunkai within its structure.

If that’s not you, I hope you feel is also expresses the sentiment you posted above. I think that’s a totally fair comment and I’d agree with that observation as you’ve framed it.

GaryWado wrote:
The opening move of Pinan Nidan for example is "Otoshi Tettsui-uke" to defend against a chudan punch (exactly how it is performed in the solo kata) - What you see is what you get!

Where we would differ here is that I don’t see this as a workable interpretation of the kata movement; nor do I see it as the “default explanation”.

The distance and overall nature of this is a long way from the reality of conflict. I would also say that there are better explanations that would work in a civilian self-protection context that are also exactly as performed in the solo kata … accepting the changes that inevitably happen due to the variables of conflict as expressed in Funakoshi’s eighteenth precept, Genwa Nakasone’s explanation of that precept (which Funakoshi endorsed), Motobu’s statement about kata and the need to be able to “bend with the winds of adversity” etc.

Probably worth saying here (for other readers) that the terminology applied to kata motions is very new when compared to the kata themselves. Mabuni, writing in the 1930s, makes the point that there was no such common labels applied to kata motions. So when Itosu created the Pinan series he did not label the opening motion of Pinan Nidan as “otoshi tettsui-uke” (dropping hammer-fist block). I’m not staying you are doing this, but using modern labels / descriptions as a basis for determining original kata function / the default application is flawed.

Itosu is also quite clear that the karate of his time was for “avoiding injury if one, by chance, should be confronted by a villain or ruffian” i.e. civilian self-protection. The junzuki from ten feet away (which would still not hit the defender) which is struck by the dropping hammer fist (while the hand on the hip serves no function) so often presented as the explanation for the motion bears no resemblance to civilian conflict. The fact that the attacker is attacking from the left at 90 degrees also contradicts what Mabuni said about the ebusen in Pinan Nidan (Karatedo Nyumon 1938 – Joe Swift’s translation: http://seinenkai.com/articles/swift/swift-tidbits1.html):

“The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that "this kata moves in 8 directions so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents" or some such nonsense. I would like to specifically address this issue now.

Looking at the enbusen for Pinan Nidan, one can see that karate kata move in all directions, forward and back, left and right. When interpreting kata, one must not get too caught up in these directions. For example, do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a kata begins to the left that the opponent is always attacking from the left. There are two ways of looking at this:

1 - The kata is defending against an attack from the left.

2 - Angle to the left against a frontal attack.

At first glance, both of these look alright. However, looking at only number (1), the meaning of the kata becomes narrow, and the kata, which in reality must be applied freely in any situation, becomes awfully meagre in its application.

Looking at an actual example, the 5 Pinan kata all start to the left, and then repeat the same series of techniques to the right. Looking at interpretation (1), the opponent must always attack from the left, and while fighting that opponent, another opponent comes from behind so the defender turns to fight that opponent. This type of interpretation is highly unreasonable.

Looking at interpretation number (2) however, the 5 Pinan kata show us that against an attack from the front we can evade either left or right to put ourselves in the most advantageous position to defend ourselves.”

(The underlining is mine)

Mabuni is clear that the angles are best thought of as representing the angles we should shift to and not the angle of attack. The “dropping hammer fist block to a junzuki from the left” explanation of the motion contradicts this and would therefore be seen by Mabuni  as “highly unreasonable”.

The point in raising all of this is that the common explanation of the motion has, in my view, many problems both historically and practically. And yet there are applications that do fit the fit the kata perfectly , that do make use of all of the motion (i.e. no hikites left unused) that are historically consistent, and that are workable in the reality of civilian conflict.

So from my perspective I would say that the “dropping hammer-fist block” interpretation has quite a few problems and should, speaking for myself, not be seen as the starting point or the default application. It is not the optimum functional, historical or logical way to explain the motion (from a karate / self-protection perspective). To turn a phrase (“what you see is what you get”) there are better things to see and in seeing them we get a lot more in my view.

A while ago – on the old forum – you and I had a really good discussion around this and loads of interesting stuff came out. I’ve tired to find that as I think it would be really useful to re-post here, but I can’t find it. I guess it’s because time flies by quicker than I think and it was probably years and years ago! The post I wanted to find was the one where you explored how the karate kata were utilised as an alternative to some of the solo exercises originating in ShindoYoshin Ryu jujutsu. I wish I could find it as I think it would be really useful to share here as it should help clarify the pedagogy (I love that word! :-) you are discussing. Sadly, I can’t find it :-(

All the best,

Iain

Lyndon
Lyndon's picture

Leigh,

Fair point, however if (as I was) you were taught that the morote uke was a block and the Gedan Juji Uke the same then that's what you tell your students it is, until you learn differently.   My point was mainly around the obvious punches and blocks such as gedan barai which tend to be taught initially as kihon.  They're taught as offensive/defensive kihon, so if they suddenly crop up in a kata how can't that kata be seen to contain offensive/defensive sequences?   The same point applies to your explanation of the moves you mention (assuming you teach them outside of a kata setting) and even if you don't then the very explanation should show the student that this is more than a dance move  -  which is what I so inelegantly tried to say.

Your method of explaining things is admirable, but as it's only in latter years that I've grown to appreciate the difference, I stick with "block" in the early stages as (if all else fails) simply bashing your arm into an atacking limb might be the only option they have :-)  

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Hi Iain, I hope you are well.

When it comes to kata kaisetsu, from a Wado perspective, the “block” is not the main point or reason for this movement here. It’s actually the dropping of the entire body that we are training.

So in a way, it’s not so much a defence against a Junzuki  - it’s more the other way round –a Junzuki is used to demonstrate the point of dropping the body in co-ordination with the “otoshi uke”. 

Similarly, the last 4 moves of Pinan Nidan (nukite in shiko dachi) are also demonstrated against junzuki chudan, however the purpose is to learn the principle of “opening” the hips from shomen to ma-hanmi .

The point here is that Wado Kata (despite having its origins in Okinawan Karate) has a different raison d’être perhaps.

At a very basic level, to Wado-ka, it is more about the study of principles of body movement and mechanics – dropping, rotating, turning, advancing and retreating etc., etc. (or perhaps the Pinan Kata are at least – I’ll come on to the advanced Kata in a bit).

These principles are then “realised” when we practice our various paired kata and ultimately Jiyu Kumite. Kata helps teach us what we need to be able to fight.

This is why perhaps Otsuka adjusted these kata from their original and why I think that Wado kata ARE different to Okinawan Kata, at least in their purpose within the grand scheme of things.

I remember the discussion we had on this before, it was good fun!

I vaguely recall we talked about Shindo Yoshin ryu, its similarities to Wado and in particular and exercise they do called “Nairiki no Gyo”?

In many Koryu bujutsu traditions, there are exercises designed to develop internal energy/strength through correct balance,posture, stability and muscular alignment (without using brute force). In my own Koryu group (Sosuishi-ryu) for example, we have an exercise called “Yukiai Tani Watari”, which is designed for such a purpose.

There is a widely accepted view among many senior wado grades, that Otsuka reflects this in certain Wado Kata – particularly Naihanchi and Seishan.  

So in the case of these kata – it’s what is going on under the bonnet that is far more important than just kicking and punching.

All the best

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Gary, couple questions I have for you if you don't mind:

Why is practicing mechanics different from practicing application? If we are learning a principle of body shifting etc., how is this in opposition to "bunkai"?  It might be said that stuff like body shifting is a part of the larger picture of a technique or principle, but surely it's not in opposition to bunkai.  Are you saying that the Okinawan derived kata serve more as a kind of isolation training for body mechanics, something like Sanchin in Goju?

If indeed these kata in Wado serve the purpose of being tanren training, why would kata of Okinawan origin contain movements that would be good tanren for Jujutsu stuff? Jujutsu already has tenkan, the thing you mention, and other stuff to do that..what good would Naihanchin be in that department?

Micke
Micke's picture

Hello everybody!

I have been following this very interesting discussion, which I think is relevant not only to Wado ryu but to all Japanese karate styles. I believe the explanation for the lack of bunkai related practice in Wado ryu is that Ohtsuka never learned any bunkai from Gichin Funakoshi. It is well known that he was dissatisfied with the combative side of Funakoshi's training and wanted more kumite. As a traditional Japanese martial artist and an expert of Ju jutsu he therefore focused on what was known to him from Ju jutsu to develop fighting skills: two man kata and kumite.

In his book "Shotokan karate. Its History and Evouliton" R. Hassel quotes M. Nakayama who says the first generation students of Funakoshi knew only basics and and kata practice, because that was the only thing they were taught. When Nakayama started his training around 1930, they started to experiment with partner exercises. Werner Lind explains this in "Okinawa Karate" (for those of you who read German) as a result of pressure from the Japanese authorities to make karate more useful for the Japanese army. However, this practice was obviously not based on selfdefense techniques from the kata but on more offensive techniques developed by Yoshitaka Funakoshi, who also taught the armed forces.

We can therefore assume that the first generation Japanese karate students had very little exposure to bunkai practice, if any at all. This also explains their attempts to understand kata within the framework of karate; they were trying to explain the techniques on the basis of what they had been taught. Of course, some of them might have learned more original bunkai but that knowlege was not spread to the majority of karate students.

Regarding the question why Gichin Funakoshi did not teach bunkai, I have come across two interesting theories over the last few years:

1) Werner Lind (see above) states that Gichin Funakoshi wanted to teach only Itosu's karate program from the Okinawan school system with focus on physical fitness and mental discipline. G. Higaki in "Hidden Karate" takes this one step further and suggests that Funakoshi had a secret agreement with other Okinawan karate masters, not to teach the true meaning of kata.

2) In "Shotokan's secret", B. Clayton proposes the fairly provocative  theory that Gichin Funakoshi never learned  Itosu's bunkai of the Heian kata from him, otherwise all styled deriving from Itosu would have the same bunkai and they have not. Therefore his teaching did not focus on bunkai but on form.

I am not in a position to decide who is right about this but I think we can safely conclude that bunkai practice was not generally part of the early training in Japan. I think this explains why Ohtsuka focused on other methods for developing fighting skills and also why other people tried to reinvent the bunkai for the kata they knew.

Regards

Micke

OceanSailor
OceanSailor's picture

Hello Iain,

I suspect that the theme of this thread on wado and bunkai essentially falls to the fact that there are so many variations of wado because of ego, money, time, and distance; that this variable style is going to be inherently impossible to pigeon hole. Ohtsukas original design was to have a practical street variation of shotokan combined with a ju jitsu style; and therein lies the connection between a bone fide bunkai and not. Your own practice of judo alongside your karate undoutedly makes the practice of karate more enticing, exhilarating, and one heck of a lot more fun. I know it is for me, and will keep me enamored for at least another two decades. There is just so much to still learn every day, and to be mentally satisfied is as fulfilling, if not more so, than is the physical component.

Cheers.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Some great posts in this thread! Thanks to all for sharing as I think this makes for a really good read!

GaryWado wrote:
When it comes to kata kaisetsu, from a Wado perspective, the “block” is not the main point or reason for this movement here. It’s actually the dropping of the entire body that we are training…. {snip}

Hi Gary - Thanks very much for taking the time to explain your viewpoint. I think your post makes thing much clearer and will hopefully stop any talking at crossed purposes. One of the problems in discussions such as this is that the topics of discussion are always understood in the context of pre-existing viewpoints. If people don’t have a clear understanding of each others “worldviews” then the conversations can get muddled. Thanks once again for clarifying and contributing.

Micke wrote:
I have been following this very interesting discussion, which I think is relevant not only to Wado ryu but to all Japanese karate styles .. {snip}

Hi Micke – There are some really interesting points raised in your post and I think it makes a great contribution to the information available in the thread and the overall discussion. Thanks for this!

All the best,

Iain

GaryWado
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Zach Zinn wrote:

Gary, couple questions I have for you if you don't mind:

Why is practicing mechanics different from practicing application? If we are learning a principle of body shifting etc., how is this in opposition to "bunkai"?  It might be said that stuff like body shifting is a part of the larger picture of a technique or principle, but surely it's not in opposition to bunkai.  Are you saying that the Okinawan derived kata serve more as a kind of isolation training for body mechanics, something like Sanchin in Goju?

If indeed these kata in Wado serve the purpose of being tanren training, why would kata of Okinawan origin contain movements that would be good tanren for Jujutsu stuff? Jujutsu already has tenkan, the thing you mention, and other stuff to do that..what good would Naihanchin be in that department?

Hi Zach,

To my way of thinking, the honing of these mechanics (through the practice of solo kata) opens the door to endless application.

Re: Tanren training:

I do not study Shindo Yoshin Ryu, but my own Koryu dojo has exercises designed for the same purpose – however these are often unique to each school.

They are geared around the greater workings of the school as a whole and its curriculum. In nut-shell it is to make the students more proficient at what the “Ryu” practices (Jujutsu, Sword, Kogusoku etc) and importantly HOW the school execute their art.

Perhaps Otsuka recognised the value of Nahainchi kata etc. for his vision of Wado.

Just my musings really

Regards 

Gary

GaryWado
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OceanSailor wrote:

Ohtsukas original design was to have a practical street variation of shotokan combined with a ju jitsu style; and therein lies the connection between a bone fide bunkai and not...

Hi OceanSailor.

Your comment above has really surprised me.

Can I ask, where or from whom, are you building that understanding from?

Regards

Gary

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

On another thread, Iain posted a very interesting article on European medieval swordsmanship.

Interestingly enough, I think there are a lot of parallels to that, and the Wado vs Bunkai approach.

John Clements writes in his essay: -

"The secret to all this we're told is not difficult and it is not a matter of having a repertoire of techniques nor just good reflexes and coordination with decent conditioning. It's about knowing and applying a handful of key principles. It's about adversarial perception, timing, distance, leverage, and technique, all used in good martial spirit."

Actually - you start learning that stuff at Pinan Nidan - you just don't know it at the time.

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

The thing with the clements quote, I have watched plenty of HEMA/ARMA guys and none of them seem to have any quesiton what the movements are for that make up their systems..seems to not be so with some Karate, so I think the quote is a bit out of context when put up in a conversation about Karate bunkai.

As I read it he is talking about the danger of creating some sort of syllabus of "technique based" ( as opposed to principle based) training, but I feel pretty confident that there is no ambiguity of a thing like "bunkai" in the circles he runs in, as I know for a fact that HEMA stuff is put together directly from old European combatives manuals, wherein the  only ambiguity is in translation and technique exceution, not puporse -as the manuals generally state/show the purpose...unlike Karate kata which often have some ambigutity regarding the actual purpose of movements in application historically.

I mean this is a binary question right..either Wado does kata and use it as combatives via bunkai, or it's serving some other, probably non-combative  pupose..isn't it that simple? Not meaning to be inflammatory, it just seems like a bit of a cop out to say "well you learn that stuff and just don't know it"..

GaryWado
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Zach Zinn wrote:
I mean this is a binary question right..either Wado does kata and use it as combatives via bunkai, or it's serving some other, probably non-combative pupose..isn't it that simple? Not meaning to be inflammatory, it just seems like a bit of a cop out to say "well you learn that stuff and just don't know it".

Hi Zach Zinn,

I think the acquisition of these core skills and principles is combative. However I don't think it's as simple as saying it’s either combative through Bunkai or probably non combative.

In many Koryu bujutsu schools, as well as Kata - that are very obviously combative in their make up - there are Kata that are designed as mainly educational. Don't get me wrong, you should have an understaning of the technique you are doing (within the movement), however the purpose of practicing the kata is to engrain the underlying principles and skills- to an extent the technique you are doing plays second fiddle!

Anyone who trains in a good judo or jujutsu schools for example, will know that there is a world of difference between an arm lock and an arm lock from someone that knows how to use their whole body correctly.

Regards

Gary

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Which principles are being practice independent of application? Is it bodymechanics as in Sanchin?

If not, I still fail to see how this is any different from kata application.

"however the purpose of practicing the kata is to engrain the underlying principles and skills"

And how is this different from "bunkai" exactly?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I'm sorry, I just feel that this is one of the reasons why MMA and Jujitsu (Japanese & Brazilian) have become more popular as the average person, not die hards like us, think kata is a waste of time cause its just a dance etc. and its the Instructor's fault for not learning the bunkai or whatever you want to call it.

Damn even the Tai Chi form has application (bunkai) through Chin Na.

Sorry Iain I've got to much passion about Kata Bunkai to think anyone could practice Kata and NOT even concider the What, Why, Where AND How of even the most basic Kata.

Its seems Shu Ha Ri is not something Wado'ists Don't practice from what I can see from all the Posts so far.

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

I also have passion for what I do Black Tiger, and I feel I have a good understanding of the what, why and hows...

I also flatter myself to say - that I have an understanding of Shu-ha-ri, cos its kinda what I am trying to explain here.

Gary

Zach Zinn
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GaryWado wrote:

I also have passion for what I do Black Tiger, and I feel I have a good understanding of the what, why and hows...

I also flatter myself to say - that I have an understanding of Shu-ha-ri, cos its kinda what I am trying to explain here.

Gary

 

Not meaning to be abrasive gary, but so far I still don't understand at all the distinction you are trying to make between "bunkai", and what you say Wado does.

All the stuff you are talking about, timing, distance, fighting attitude seems to me to be a part of (good) training in bunkai /oyo/kata application/whatever-you-want-to-call-it as well. If it's just the terms you dislike fine, I don't use the term bunkai alot myself. But if the substance is the same, then Wado does indeed have "bunkai", the practitioners just choose to call it something else.

What does this have to do with Shu Ha Ri? I guess once one reaches a certain stage, you could argue that there is no bunkai because it's all been internalized...but I feel that's a cop out, as at some point one has to learn STUFF, Whether you call them techniques or not, in order to internalize them. If this is the case, the Wado is doing bunkai, just under a different name.

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Shu-ha ri as I understand it means:

To embrace the Kata

To diverge form the Kata

To discard the Kata

Maybe Wado is just one big cop out... I don't know ;)

Here's a good essay on the subject of Shu-ha-ri anyway:

http://shinyokai.com/Essays_TeachingShuHaRi.htm

Gary

Zach Zinn
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GaryWado wrote:

Shu-ha ri as I understand it means:

To embrace the Kata

To diverge form the Kata

To discard the Kata

Maybe Wado is just one big cop out... I don't know ;)

Here's a good essay on the subject of Shu-ha-ri anyway:

http://shinyokai.com/Essays_TeachingShuHaRi.htm

Gary

 

Right, I know how shu ha ri is supposed to work...what I don't understand is how you think it differs in Wado..is there no "Shu" phase?

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