We practice, investigate, challenge, learn and share what we discover. This makes all of us, and the karate that we practice, better and stronger.
According to Shoshin Nagamine, from his book Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters:
In Okinawa during the old days, students spent years meticulously learning a single kata or two… later…without ever understanding their respective applications… Kata had become a lifeless practice, Motobu believed.
Motobu Choki said:
…if you have not fully mastered the practical applications, in a sudden situation, you will be unable to act with speed, and because of this, such a martial art is of no use…
Iain Abernethy’s commissioned translation of Anko Itosu’s sixth precept says:
6. Practice each of the techniques of karate repeatedly. Learn the explanations of every technique well …
As Abernethy acutely points out – Itosu said “each technique.”
From scholar/practitioner Mark Tankosich’s translation of Mabuni’s “Practice Karate Correctly”
In karate, the most important thing is kata. Into the kata of karate are woven every manner of attack and defense technique. Therefore, kata must be practiced properly, with a good understanding of their bunkai meaning.
Either we bring our karate to life or it declines. All we need to do is train sincerely. When we understand a technique we master it. When we do not understand it we investigate it. There may be no end to this process. But the process gets great results.
Many people have been watching our Yamabayashi kata interpretation videos. The feedback has been great. Some people have offered suggestions and alternatives.
Some prominent internet bunkai presenters have been studying our videos, and now and then are using what they see. That is gratifying.
Our objectives in creating our videos are 1. to investigate our kata, and 2. to get useful techniques to sincere karate people – including any members of Yamabayashi Ryu and other practitioners of Shorin Ryu, Shotokan, Goju and related styles, who would like to take a look.
There are thousands of public sources of bunkai ideas. There are many good ones. The research is a communial effort.
It is no secret that you have to train a lot to get proficient. And there is no known limit on how skillful you can become. It is up to each of us how far we want to take our training.
We are sharing our Yamabayashi bunkai interpretations openly. If people want to use these ideas, they can. If people want to improve on them, they can do that too.
Whether we train for health and fitness, for competition in shiai or kata demonstration, for self-defense, professional competence, for inner mastery, or for all of them – the more we understand the kata we are studying the more completely we will be able to get what we want from training.
Some of the bunkai interpretations we have been posting are new, some are unfamiliar, all have been tested and found to be effective, worth investigating and using. None are the last word.
Many people, in this group and elsewhere, work on new interpretations as a regular part of their training. It is a fruitful process, humbling and energizing. And it is working.
Just as the masters from long ago advised.
The more everyone shares info and insights, the better off all of us, and our art, will be.
Post Copyright © 2023 by Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate, Yamabayashi Ryu, Saluda, NC USA
For more bunkai interpretations and much more read True Karate Dō –
“One of the best books I’ve read in years, inviting and compelling. Jeff Brooks moves effortlessly from martial arts to Buddhism to consciousness studies, self-transformation, and related fields in this wide-ranging and Illuminating study that has much to offer both novice explorers and veteran practitioners. A splendid achievement.”
— Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series
— Co-author, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams.
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