By Leigh Simms, 17-Jan-2012 13:59:00
Beginners Guide to Decoding Karate Kata
Beginning to look at the applications of kata can often look like a big mountain to climb. This article is intended to start off karate practitioners with a logical procedure to begin understanding kata bunkai. The first 5 steps layout broad principles to think about before looking at any technique. 6 – 10 then looks at how to decode the techniques.
1) Ignore the standard names of karate techniques. Karate moves can be many different things and to give them one definition (such as; high block or reverse punch) will severely limited your study. Secondly the techniques weren't given their names until long after the kata were created anyway.
2) Good bunkai will put in you in a position where escape is highly certain. This can be either by having the opponent unconscious or in a position where the defender can easily finish the fight.
3) Techniques start from a realistic combat scenario. This means that it will be generally from a close range and involve common attacks found on the street and not generally those found inside a dojo. For example it is more common to be grabbed on the lapel from a few inches away than being attacked with a Jodan Oi Zuki from a few feet away.
4) Bunkai can be offensive as well as defensive. Remember to practise techniques that start from us having an advantage and the attacker is trying to cover up. Or practise from positions of a stalemate. For example from a standing clinch which no person has an advantageous grip.
5) Keep it Short and Simple. If the technique takes longer than 3 seconds at speed it is to complicated and runs the risk of failing or a third party entering the equation. Avoid these risks by keeping them short and simple.
6) Use your stance.
a) Stances show which way our weight should move. 1 purpose of stances is to put weight into our techniques. For example a Forward Stance puts our weight forward, a Back Stance puts our weight backwards, Horse Stance drops our weight downwards.
b) Stances can also disrupt the attackers body. For example Hour Glass Stance (Sanchin Dachi) can be used to attack the side of the attackers knee.
7) Use both hands when applying a technique. Often called mother and father hands, make sure both hands are being used. The most obvious example is hiki-te (pulling hand). If we take a straight punch. The striking hand is hitting the attackers head whilst the non-striking hand is pulling the attacker onto the punch via a grab either to the lapel or wrist etc...
8) Don't kick above the waist. Keeping in mind the closeness of the attack it would be hard to navigate into a position for a mid range kick anyway, besides originally kata never had kicks that high.
9) Look for turns (mawatte) in the kata. These can represent either the end of one sequence. Alternatively these can also be disguising a throw or takedown.
10) Pressure test it. Start by increasing resistance against the technique and see how well it works under pressure. No technique is perfect and being able to vary it is a skill that needs practising.
Leigh Simms © 2012
You are viewing the text version of this site.
Need help? check the requirements page.