Longtime lurker, once or twice poster. I find myself in the less than enviable position where I train in an absolutely outstanding and wonderful karate dojo with dedicated partners and instructors and great camaraderie, but I have one problem. There seems to be virtually no interest in exploring bunkai and associated partner drills, live practice, etc. Focus is very heavily placed on sports kumite, kihon (and I think our dojo's focus and sense of body mechanics is fantastic) but kata, while emphasized, is purely form (if you'll excuse the obvious use of the word kata).
For me, that's - even though I'm not very far along my journey - a little perplexing and somewhat frustrating since I've come to believe that WHY you do something is more important than simply looking good doing it. I want to explore the function of kata and, more importantly, the principles underpinning it - but that is not a part of what we do at our dojo unfortunately (in fact, to our instructor's credit, he said as much and that it was because he didn't understand those aspects well and didn't want to teach us faulty applications and principles of kata) - and I have no other karate options or non-sports-combat options available to me (switching schools is not an option - the other options behave similarly but under different systems).
My question is - are there things I can consider or keep in mind/research during my solo kata training that might help foster a practical karate/bunkai mindset? I understand that the best way to prepare is actual live practice and application and testing against resistance, but since I don't have that option I wondered what the next best thing might be as it applies to "things I can do on my own". My ultimate hope would be to eventually find a school that does focus on practical karate (or other practical arts, though karate is really what I enjoy) but until such a time I'd really like to walk along the path towards practical training as far as possible.