I just finished reading Gichin Funakoshi's Karate-Do Kyohan (yeah, I know, it was high time), and, well, I've got mixed feelings about it.
I really appreciate some of the broad principles about karate practice, especially the four-level interpretation of the word "kara" (technical / mental / moral / spiritual).
However, the wide section devoted to kata got me quite perplexed. To say the least. I found examples of bunkai that I wouldn't teach to a five-year old white belt. Two examples among many others: the first three moves of Heian Sandan are a block, followed by...a double block, followed by...a double block. Later in the kata, the sequence with the fists on the hips is explained as a kick to the thigh (why not), followed by...an elbow strike. It seems even worse than the old "block with the elbow" I was taught 25 years ago.
I've been drawn to practical karate by the functionality and subtlety of the bunkai shown by people like Iain, Patrick McCarthy and Andy Allen, and I see them as a return to the source. And so I wonder what to make of some of the very rough and unrealistic explanations I found in Funakoshi's book.
The first thing I can think of is levels of bunkai. The book is a very general introduction to karate, and so the bunkai given are the most basic level. But I don't like the idea of teaching BS to beginners, and I doubt that the old masters gave into this.
I really don't mean to be disrespectful, as God knows I love the good old fellow, but I just wanted to share my impressions and ask you what you think of all this.