Bunkai with Dan

I've always been amazed as I watch YouTube that I never see kata bunkai as I practiced it. It got to the point that I thought it must have been some "karate hearsay" on the part of my sensei. The Toguchi Shoreikan kata bunkai is rare on video except for a few half-ass attempts that I can only ascribe to well-intentioned in-dojo teaching vids. None are done at a black belt execution level. Most Goju bunkai I see is an individual technique divorced from the whole, not the dynamic, "in the melee" (to rob a term from my good friend Dan) experience I had, especially from green belt up. It seems that everybody has got their shit up there but us.

This got me to thinking about why some schools, like mine, never took much beyond group photos. Even now with the advent of inexpensive video cameras and free online platforms my brother karatecas still don't get it. It is as if the mere notion of puting ourselves out there is sacriligious, a violation of some secret code of purity. It is a pity. I think we have a lot to offer and share.

It is in this vein that I totally applaud and admire the effort of people like Dan who freely shares his insights and martial arts experience in both a visual and written format. It is an invaluable contribution.

I'm no Dan and I also haven't the collaboration and space in order to expand my internet dialogues beyond these paltry words. In other words, to put the kime where the mouth is. His and other martial arts sites have deepened my awareness and learning.

Maybe one day I may be able to convince a few of my old dojo buddies to upload some bunkais, but I won't hold my breath.

Recently in a post on The Way of Least Resistance, Dan made some very valid points as to the stiffness and by rote execution of some Goju Kata bunkai versus his looping drills, and he's right. Dan began in Goju and I have to take his words seriously. And this was the case with bunkai mostly up to green belt. The reason for this is pedagogical, a view born out of a philosophy of teaching karate basics within a strict program of ecalating ranks to all sorts of people who don't have a natural aptitude for karate, and thus the by rote bunkai and kumite drills that so belabored us both.

My last Goju experience was in the Chi-I-Do school of Kow Loon Ong. It is a stretchy, coily, and loose Goju, with a lot of xingyi moves akin to what Dan does in his school. Of course, within the Goju format. Thus, while I am strictly a Goju practitioner (because it is all I know) I can fully understand his blending of these schools and the loops approach to bunkai, precisely because my saifa and Kakuha bunkais were done somewhat in this manner.

Although not exactly what I would have wanted to put up as a reply to the "Kimo" vid, the following is close enough to make my point.

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