The analysis of kata, access to the information contained therein, its comprehension and application, is one of the most enriching and necessary processes in the development of a karateka.
Without kata there is no karate. This is an irrefutable absolute, but given the mass culture that has been generated around our martial art, it is necessary to repeat it.
My next statement, is not that natural to all of us on the path of Karate Do, but it is for me, and I hope it is for all the practitioners of Sekishin Karate Jutsu.
There is no kata without bunkai.
There is no right action without understanding.
Without an in-depth analysis of the kata, a deepening of the art of Karate Do is not possible. Nor is it possible to grasp the different levels of knowledge contained in kata. It is no coincidence that the ancient masters referred to different kata as complete ryu of karate.
But to constitute a complete system, it is not enough to suggest tactical and / or technical solutions. The kata must contain information on all aspects that make up the set of skills and knowledge necessary for the cultivation of a self-defense system. This vision of kata as the main vehicle of martial information, located at the heart of Karate Do, has as its original premise a utilitarian and functionalist vision. A vision that does not give rise to interpretations guided by sports, aesthetic and / or philosophical or esoteric criteria.
If one accepts the premise that for the understanding and internalization of the methods of Karate Do, bunkai is essential, the only viable perspective in Karate Do's vision is the functionalist. Where the form is dependent on the function.
That is to say, that technical analysis (bunkai) should only take into account the effect. This is a central parameter. To ignore it would be like analyzing the qualities of a car without caring if it really has the capacity to fulfill its primary function: the transportation of its passengers.
Another aspect that needs to be considered when analyzing kata for martial application is that kata often omits the obvious, what the practitioner is supposed to know in order to analyze the kata (the necessary minimums so to speak). And only shows what is specific or specialized, what defines an application, or what is important from a point of view of principles.
But in bunkai it is necessary to look beyond the tactical or technical propositions of kata. As we shall see later, kata contains several levels of information.
General strategy for conflict resolution.
Karate as a martial system focuses on self-defense. As such, it is obliged to take a basic strategic decision that identifies the possible conflict scenarios to be addressed and how to solve them. This basic strategic approach could be formulated as follows:
A) Completing any physical confrontation in a decisive and definitive manner as quickly as possible.
B) Do not go to the ground. And if forced to the ground, get up as soon as possible.
This general strategic definition, conditions karate on a tactical and technical level. The techniques and tactics found in the kata reflect this strategic conception and aim to translate it into practice.
The techniques of karate work with maximum optimum. If it is possible to obtain the same or greater result with another technique, then the chosen application is not correct. That means that if there is a simpler, more direct and effective way to achieve the effect we are looking for, the application we have found is not the best possible application.
All applications are designed to end the confrontation as quickly as possible. Therefore, in our analysis of kata it is necessary to look for solutions of maximum effectiveness.
The angles in the katas must be interpreted as relative to the opponent's position. That means that if in a kata we make a technique to the right, it is not because the attacker is on my right, but because I position myself in that way relative to an attacker who is in front of me.
The probability of an attack must be taken into account when analyzing the combative applications of kata. Do not confuse probability with possibility. Is it possible for someone in the street to attack me with oizuki jodan in zenkutsudachi? It is possible. Is it probable? No, it's highly unlikely, bordering on the impossible.
In analyzing the combative applications of kata, it is necessary to consider the ritual of human aggression, its stages, how to detect it and how to control it in our favor.
Most classic katas are systemic katas. By systemic kata we mean a classic kata of high technical level, that contains a complete martial system in itself. Examples of systemic katas are katas such as Kushanku, Naifanchi, Passai, etc.
All movements of a kata must be considered as techniques and all techniques are designed to be used in real personal defense combat.
All parts of the movement are significant.
Do not look for fancy solutions. Effectiveness goes hand in hand with simplicity.
The techniques should be applied against weak anatomical areas.
There are many applications for each movement.
Discover the principles behind the techniques.
Energy and structural level
This level is the deepest and of the most difficult access.
This is where we study the different ways of generating energy and how to transmit it. We learn to separate, identify and use the different energy sources that are within the possibilities of the human body.
The kata teaches us how to make use of the muscles, tendons and bone structure in combat movement. This aspect of karate is so advanced that one can even see how past masters used modern concepts such as plyometrics. Of course, from an empirical perspective and without a modern scientific methodology.
To reach this level it is necessary to have the guidance of a teacher with the knowledge and methodology necessary to transmit it. This is the level traditionally called "ura", which means, that which is out of sight, that which is implicit ...
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Jorge F. Garibaldi