Kata is something that many people, (including karate ka) question. Can it be used in a real self defence situation? To be honest with you, if you try to execute a certain part of a kata in a self defence situation exactly like the kata is taught, then it probably will not work. But are the exact kata movements meant to be carried out the way they are taught?
In the book Budo Masters by Michael Clarke, Shotokan legend Hirokazu Kanazawa is asked about kata and what he stresses when teaching kata to his students. Some answers he gives are the following, “I try to get people to bring there kata to life”
“It goes without saying, you can not understand kata properly without understanding the bunkai”
“I try to get Yudansha (black belt students) to find their own bunkai”
“They should not wait to be shown anything. They should find out from themselves”
“This is when they will understand that it is not just the exact movement they should master but the principles, the idea.”
“I have seen demonstrations of kata bunkai where the exact moves from the kata are being used, but I do not consider this to be real bunkai”
In the book Budo Masters by Michael Clarke, Shotokan legend Hirokazu Kanazawa is asked about kata and what he stresses when teaching kata to his students. Some answers he gives are the following,
“I try to get people to bring there kata to life”
I think it is clear that what Kanazawa is trying to stress is that everyone has a different interpretation to kata bunkai and that one specific bunkai will work for one person but maybe not for another.
It is up to the individual to study with a partner the many different variations in which kata techniques can be applied. For example a simple downward defence (gedan barai). Obviously it can be used to stop an attack but maybe it can be used as an arm lock, a throw, a strike and maybe it can be used not just standing but whilst ground fighting etc.
These are the kinds of variations that need to be studied by students to truly bring there kata techniques to life.
I strongly recommend you check out Iain Abernethys website and blog for more information on kata and there use within the martial arts. Sensei Abernethy gives a great insight into bukai, kata principles and there applications
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