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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Bunkai: Returning Kata to the Core of Karate.
By Bryce Fleming

Traditional karate schools depend on the study of the three K's : kihon, or basic techniques, kata, or traditional forms, and kumite, or sparring. Typically, most classes consist of variable amounts of time spent on all or at least two of these cornerstones. Most classes I have attended (and, indeed, taught) have spent the lion's share of the time on kihon, leading the students through a series of seemingly endless drills on basic punches, blocks and kicks. kata and kumite are often relegated to secondary positions, shoe-horned into slots either at the beginning of class or at the end. Depending on the focus of the individual instructor or club, the actual amount of kata or kumite practice may actually be quite limited. Perhaps the karate community should re-examine this tendency and consider alternative training methods that allow for much greater and potentially far more useful study of both kata and kumite.

My first love when I started martial arts training over twenty years ago was the study of kata. Everything about kata interested me and I must admit that I would have studied kata intensely even if it was not an intrinsic part of the study syllabus and a requirement of rank examinations. Unfortunately, for many karateka, the study of kata has lost much of its appeal and is considered by many to be merely archaic tradition learned only examinations or competition. In fact many "fighters" consider kata training to be detrimental to their own development as it consumes time that could be spent more fruitfully training combinations, distancing and timing for kumite. How far have we come since Funakoshi Sensei commented "sparring does not exist apart from kata...when one becomes enthusiastic about sparring there is a tendency for his kata to become bad karate...(the student) should practice with kata as the principle method and sparring as the supporting method" (Cook, pp.134)

All karate styles are kata based to some degree. Whether you call it "shadow boxing" or "fighting dance", just about every martial art has some associated kata. If we just consider the Chinese fighting styles and their descended Okinawan styles, we see that kata study was the keystone of training and everything flowed from that core. Most historians consider the kata to stand as kind of catalogue of fighting techniques or strategies from which the practitioner may draw while defending himself. This belief, of course, would require that the student knows the correct applications and actually trains those applications enough to apply them quickly and correctly in a fight. Unfortunately, for many of the kata the original applications have been long forgotten, possibly for centuries. Shinpan Gusukuma, an original student of Ankoh Itosu admitted that he didn't know the applications of all the movements. He said that Itosu didn't know all the applications and felt that some of the movements were just for show. (Cook, pp. 31). Itosu Sensei created the Pinan (Heian) kata at the end of the nineteenth century and was the progenitor of much of what we call Shotokan karate. Therefore this collective memory loss extends at least a century in the past. kata, even then, was becoming merely a novel way of training kihon.

If we look at kata today we would not be too wrong in saying that it has become merely another form of kihon training. Andre Bertel, a friend of mine who holds the rank of godan in New Zealand, trains frequently in Japan and has repeatedly stated that the Japanese themselves consider kata to be good for little more than training kihon and have little interest in application training. Scott Langley, a graduate of the demanding instructors' program through Asai Sensei and the current technical director of the Irish branch of the JKS, published and article called "Kata: the Algebra of Karate" in August of 2002 (SKM #72 pp14). In this article he stated that kata "has one overwhelming use; that is to teach one how to use one's body...[kata] is a step by step method of learning how to use the body to it's maximum efficiency". Mr. Langley feels that the actual applications of kata have been lost forever and therefore the study of kata is best focused on the actual mechanics of movement rather than possible applications. His opinion has merit and we will return to this topic later in this paper, but my personal opinion is that the study of kata should not be divorced from fighting applications and that we should endeavor to ferret out practical applications for the kata we study.

At a recent seminar I attended the keynote message that underlined everything we studied is that our techniques should be performed with intent. It is not good enough for the student to merely perform a technique correctly. The student must visualize exactly what that movement is actually doing and perform the technique in that spirit. This applies to the individual kihon as well as kata. In a recent article Nishiyama Sensei, head of the ITKF and a founder of the JKA, stated "the problem today is that everyone copies the instructor and very few people understand the proper application of the moves in the kata. The kata is only an outside symbol that represents the inside. So you must understand the inside; if not then you are only a puppet doing a movement with no meaning" (Cook, pp.299) I would suggest that we need to spend far more time studying the actual applications of kata if we are to actually lend any meaning at all to our kata.

The origins of our kata are shrouded in the mists of time for the most part. Bill Burgar, author of "Five Years, One kata" suggests that the kata are a form of mnemonic training tool: merely a series of coded movements to help the practitioner remember practical responses to a series of specific attacks. (Burgar, 2003) Giles Hopkins repeated this opinion in his paper on Goju-Ryu kata in The Journal of Asian Martial Arts published in 2005. Both authors feel that much of the meaning of kata has been lost through simple evolution as the kata have been passed from instructor to student, each passage stepping a generation further from the original fighting roots. There is little doubt that much of what we think we know about kata is likely incorrect. For example, take the Pinan (Heian) kata series. Itosu originally created the series as an introduction to karate best used as an instructional aid in school physical education classes. The Pinan series, while having many fighting techniques included in them, were never meant to be a cohesive fighting sequence. They were in fact callisthenic training with a martial flavor. On the other hand, the Pinan series likely were derived from far older kata that taught real fighting skills. It is impossible not to see the many similarities between the ancient kata "Kanku Dai" (Kushanku, Kwanku) and the Heian kata. On the other hand, there is some suggestion that Kanku Dai is actually a derivative of an even older kata series "Channan" which were taught by Matsumura Sokon and actually had roots in a Southern Chinese Wushu form "Chiang-Nan" ( Schmeisser, 2004 pp.3). Here we have proof of two, maybe three passages of an original kata, each one a step from the original form. How could we hope to retain the original integrity of the kata?

The loss of applications of kata can be attributed to several factors: some of which may be due to the very nature of the kata themselves and some of which may be attributed to history and human nature.

With regards to the kata themselves, we need to keep in mind what exactly the kata really are. They are specifically NOT a realistic fighting sequence that flows from attacker to attacker as we are taught as beginning students. They are a teaching vehicle and as such may hide the real applications within a teaching sequence. For most kata the performance line is a linear pattern for ease of observation by the instructor (Schmeisser). The flow from technique to technique had been broken, creating a staccato rhythm that allows for evaluation of the form, but does not reflect the continuous nature of a real fight (Hopkins, Schmeisser). The kata are broken into a series of individual postures and the beginner learns the individual applications of the "finished form" of each technique rather than the possible applications of the intermediate, transitional positions. This tends to create "label disease" where the student sees only one application rather than all the numerous potentials (Vengel, Hopkins, Schmeisser). Many of the techniques may actually be a "code" for an application rather than an actual position (i.e.: a jump may mean a throw of the opponent through the air) (Hopkins) Some of the postures have hidden, implied techniques that are not actually performed (Vengel, Schmeisser, Hopkins). Finally, many of the repeated movements, rather than actual applications are meant to be training, emphasizing a particular technique as important or worthy of perfection on both left and right side(Schmeisser). Schmeisser also suggests that some of the repeated techniques also suggest alternative uses of the specific movement against different attacks. I repeat Mr. Nishiyama's comment: the inside message of the kata is what is important, not just the outside appearance.

There are many historical and "human" causes of the loss of applications to the kata. World War Two decimated many of the Japanese and Okinawan dojos, almost an entire generation of karateka having been lost on the battlefields. Many of the returning karateka had forgotten much of their training and the surviving instructors were quite elderly and unable to start all over again. Funakoshi himself was nearly eighty in 1945 and was unable to take much of a physical role in the instruction of the new generation of karateka. (Cook) Of course, some of the original applications were no longer truly applicable, being designed as defenses against archaic weapons. Funakoshi himself thought that karate had changed considerably with its importation from Okinawa to mainland Japan (Langley) and that many of the original moves had been altered as "sport" karate became ascendant. An example of this was the alterations of the black belt kata Nijushiho. Originally Nijushiho included two stomping kicks (fumikomi geri) from kibadachi. In the mid-fifties while attending the JKA instructors class Asai Sensei and Okazaki Sensei altered the kicks to yoko geri kekomi because they were young, strong and flexible and the kicks "looked cool". Asai Sensei later performed the kekomi geri in competition and was never penalized for the alteration . These kick have since become the standard. This story was confirmed by Asai Sensei himself. (Langley). Furthermore, one merely must consider the changes in stance between the original Okinawan karate and the newer Japanese karate. Yoshitaka Funakoshi, son of Gichin and probably the actual source of many of the Japanese style innovations, was possibly influenced by some of the Japanese martial arts such as Maniwa Nen-ryu Kenjutsu (Cook,pp92). These arts tended to use a far deeper stance than originally practiced in Okinawa. In fact, many of the Okinawa karate schools consider the Japanese influences and alterations as dilutions or bastardizations of the "true" meaning of the kata. I would have to disagree: one merely needs to look beyond the outside shell of the kata and see the inner intent to prosper from kata study.

Here in the west we tend to use the word "bunkai" as a blanket term for kata applications. This is actually an incorrect usage of the Japanese word. Literally translated the term bunkai actually means analysis of a subject by detailed dissection or disassembly of the whole. In practice, when we suggest possible applications of the techniques, we are actually discussing "oyo" or possible examples. The term "bunkai" would then suggest that we are taking a kata apart , analyzing the movements and then attempting to discover all the possible applications. This attitude is important when practicing kata bunkai: there is never just one possible application, just numerous applications of which some are most likely best. (Schmeisser 1999, pp.15)

There are numerous levels on which kata may be studied. Schmeisser, in his 1999 book "bunkai: Secrets of Karate kata" suggests a simple three level system. At the beginner level the kata is studied as a series of kihon techniques practiced in strict sequence. Emphasis is put on form: eye line, posture, breathing, kime, and movement. Once the student has mastered the outside form, the simple applications are explored. At this level the "label" movements are considered as the application: a block is just a block, a punch is just a punch. The famous karateka Kanazawa shares this opinion, having stated that "kyu grades should be taught simple bunkai to develop a feeling for the kata. If they just practice the cold movements from the kata, then the feeling will not be right" (Cook, pp. 197). The second level of bunkai study should see the discarding of "labels" and the consideration of alternative uses of the techniques. The student will have to look at the transitions, making sure to account for every movement, not just the finished posture. Tony Annesi, the self defense expert, covers this belief with the quote "a block is a lock is a blow is a throw" (Schmeisser 1999, pp.13) Once the student reaches an advanced level the kata itself may be considered little more than a general guideline from which a overall strategy may be inferred. Hidden or alternative techniques (henka techniques) that have only a distant, suggested relationship to the kata may be inserted to the bunkai. This use of "henka" should only be used once the student has a firm understanding of the kata and should never be used to explain any sequence for which there is no clear meaning. They are truly "added on techniques" rather than hidden. Kanazawa feels the ability to find proper oyo for kata comes about black belt level; in fact he believes that a black belt should explore bunkai independently; they should not wait to be shown everything by their instructor. (Cook, pp.197) John Vengel outlines two other, more complex systems for kata study at his internet site http://www3.Baylor.edu/BUKarate/articles , but for the most part this classification system represents the ancient Chinese system of "gates" of study which truly is an archaic left over from when martial arts represented tribal secrets.

When getting down to the real business of bunkai, the student needs to look at two methods of analysis. The first method consists of "posture analysis", where each separate posture is analyzed in isolation and possible applications assigned to it. The sequential postures of each kata then may be combined or recombined to give a nearly infinite number of possible applications. (Schmeisser 1999, pp.13) The posture analysis technique results in short series of linked movements (2 to 4) from the kata dealing with only one attacker. The second method consists of "sequence analysis". Sequence analysis attempts to reduce the number of attackers to an absolute minimum, preferring to see large segments of the kata as a flowing, logical response to one attacker. Truthfully, neither system may be used to the exclusion of the other: the karate posture limits the possible applications, the sequence suggests a logical flow. Dispense with either and the kata analysis breaks down.

In both methods of kata analysis the student must keep in mind that the majority of these kata originated from a time before there was a distinct divergence of martial arts styles: there was no karate, judo, ju-jitsu, aikido or kobudo styles. The student was expected to study art of fighting in general and be proficient in striking, grappling, or weapons. The kata reflect this reality completely: the student should not be fixed on "punch and kick" or "grab and throw"; there are both in all the kata. (Schmeisser 1999, pp.12)

With regards to posture analysis, there are numerous points that should be considered:


Kiba dachi has a low center of gravity and strong lateral stability. The implied defense may be sideways, but the low center of gravity may suggest that the attacker has been thrown and lies directly below you on the floor. Consider the augmented block sequence in kiba dachi in Bassai Dai.

Zenkutsu dachi: this stance suggests a frontal attack or a throw forward and away from the defender.

Neko-ashi dachi: suggests frontal attacks with kicks or sweeps. It also has the advantage of rapid and wide ranging mobility because of it's high, gathered stance.

Kosa dachi: implies a "turn in place" and may actually be one of the concessions made for ease of instruction: rather than having the student actually turn, merely take the coiled stance of kosa dachi which allows for a very rapid pivot in place.

Kneeling postures: suggest the control and finish of a "downed" opponent. The forward knee is likely pinning a thrown opponent.

2. Movements:

Each step may imply a kick, a sweep, a trip, a reap or a throw.
Wide angle pivots or turns suggest a throw such as o-soto-geri. An example of this would be the large 270 degree turns in Heian Shodan.
Jumps suggest that you are throwing the opponent through the air rather than you are actually flying through the air. Consider the jump in Heian Godan or Empi.
Angle changes in the embusen should be considered as movements off the attack line. Tai Sabaki, while trained frequently for competition kumite, is of utmost importance in real fighting.

3. Hand positions:

Consider always what both hands are doing. In bunkai there are no useless movements. Everything is used.

Hands held together such as augmented blocks suggest a control or joint manipulation. Strikes such as "fist under elbow" seen in Tekki then become the time honored "hockey punch" where you grab the opponent with one hand and hit with the other. Also consider the "hidden hand techniques" seen in Chinese kung fu: the augmented block then becomes a block followed immediately by a reverse punch. This is a very effective fighting technique in both kumite and street fighting.

Hikite, while important to practice in kihon, now becomes essential in bunkai. The pulling hand now should be considered to be grabbing and pulling the opponent off balance or controlling his attacking arm while you strike with the tsukite or punching hand. Keep in mind that there are no "chambered" or wind up techniques; all techniques are thrown without warning and from where ever the hands or legs happen to be.(Vengel's Genjumin's Secrets and Hopkins)

Widely separated hands suggest that you are controlling or spreading the opponent arms. You may be controlling with one while striking with the other or blocking with one while striking/ controlling with the other. You are never blocking two separate opponents. Ever.

Open hand techniques suggest a block followed by a grab or control. The Chinese call this "sticky hands". The open hand techniques may suggest a palm heel strike or an open hand slap as well. Consider the movement in Heian Nidan of: knife hand block to pressing block then stepping into a spear hand strike. It looks impractical until you see the application of: block the attack, trap the attackers offending limb and step in immediately to grab or hit his throat . This would be a very effective and realistic defense indeed. I know I have used this successfully at least once in a real fight (years ago)

Closed hand techniques suggest a strike, of course, but they may also be a grab. The classic "cup and saucer" position seen in many kata (Heian Nidan, Tekki , Heian Yondan) should be considered a two handed grab of a arm or a potentially a joint manipulation of a arm. It is not just a preparatory posture. Nothing in kata represents just preparation: attackers generally do not allow the victim time to prepare.(from Genjumin's Secrets)

Techniques performed slowly imply one of two things: they would be a slow action in real life or they are difficult to perform and therefore the student really needs to pay attention to the little details. These movements would cover more complex joint manipulations or take downs that require perfect timing. Consider the chicken head blocks in Neko-ashi dachi demonstrated at the beginning of Unsu. (Schmeisser: personal communication)

With regards to "sequential analysis", these studies require some thought about both what you as a defender may be doing and what exactly the attacker may be doing. The defense will wholly depend on the suggested attack. Truthfully, if the oyo you are considering does not flow smoothly from the kata, then you are likely applying it to an inappropriate attack or incorrect angle of attack (Schmeisser 2004, pp.10). Perhaps it is appropriate here to consider potential attacks that karate may be needed to defend against.

Most historical texts on karate clearly state that karate was originally meant as a self-defense art against common ruffians rather than trained martial artists. This being the case, the nature of the attack is likely to be a blitz style attack where the opponent attempts to overwhelm the victim's defenses by a direct onslaught and no attempt to spar or play at fighting (Vengel in Genjumin's Secrets)

Pareto's Law is a general rule of economics that basically states that in a market economy eighty percent of the wealth is held or controlled by twenty percent of the people. Strangely enough, Pareto's Law can be applied against many other things in life, self-defense being one of them. In truth, there are a limited number of attacks the average thug will use and this limits the number of defenses that the martial artist really has to use. A good estimate would be that only twenty percent of the attacks possible are actually used in eighty percent of self-defense situations. Furthermore this would suggest that the self-defense expert would be best served by spending eighty percent of his time training to defend against that limited twenty percent of possible attacks. (Clark, chapter two) Rick Clark, author of "75 Down Blocks" and "Pressure Point Fighting" has a very short list of potential assaults distilled from the records of various police department. The four main attacks are a grab, a push, a punch and a kick. Grabs tended to be arms, lapels, or throats. Punches tend to be untrained roundhouse punches or jabs. Kicks were usually typical "soccer" kicks. (Clark; pp:18) Bill Burgar expands this list only slightly with his list of "Habitual Acts Of Violence" or HAOV (Burgar, pp.52). Mister Burgar includes threatening invasion of personal space (preparatory for attack), roundhouse punches to the head, lapel grabs prior to a strike, throat grabs, pushes, straight punches (from a trained fighter usually), uppercut to the body or chin, grabs from behind, groin kicks, various head locks (combined with punching), hugs to the body (both over the arms and around the waist), full tackles and head butts. If we accept the theory that kata applications are meant as defense against these HAOV, then we can then develop some rules for sequential analysis of kata.

  1. Empty your cup of all previous beliefs and see the possible variables. Do not fall into the trap of "label disease". A block may be a lock may be a blow may be a throw.
  2. Movements should take you off the primary attack angle and into an area that makes both the primary attack ineffectual and the secondary attack unlikely.
  3. Reconsider the typical karate kumite distance. kata oyo are more typically at short or medium range rather than long range.
  4. Sequential movements typically begin with an intercepting block and end with a final take down. Look for kata sequences of three or four movements that would inflict progressively more damage to the opponent. Often the primary block actually is the chamber position of the "labeled technique" while the labeled posture is an attack.
  5. Again, do not forget that both hands are in use here and there are no preparatory or useless movements. Most second "yoi" positions that appear in the higher kata (Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai) have some meaning. Also remember the "sticky hands" theory: once you make you entry, contact is maintained with the opponent until he is finished and down. Look for these final "down" movements.
  6. Stepping forward into a block or dropping the stance implies a control technique.
  7. Be willing to step outside of karate to other martial arts to find meaning to kata. Examples where joint locks and throws may be found in many of our kata. The first downward block in Heian Shodan may be considered a variation of ude osae or ikkyo form in Aikido, while the second down block in Heian Shodan may be considered a variation of shiho nage. (Westerbrook and Ratti)
  8. Crossing of the feet, either in kosa dachi or just stepping across may suggest a turn in place rather than simple linear movement.
  9. Almost all jumps represent throws of the opponent.
  10. Never consider one movement in isolation: look at the movement prior to and just after each technique and see if they flow together or stand apart. Do not forget that there may be techniques that are implied but not actually performed. Sometimes the "finishing blow" will only appear once in a particular sequence but is implied elsewhere where similar techniques are performed.
    (list compiled from Hopkins, Burgar, Vengel and Schmeisser. These references often overlapped)

While considering potential oyo for kata, there are some clear pitfalls to avoid. Bill Burgar provides us with ample information to help evaluate bunkai oyo. First we should consider each defense as being against a single primary attack. Any defense that assumes a specific sequence of attacks from an unknown assailant (i.e.: punch head with the left hand, followed by punch head with the right hand) assumes that the defender is somehow prescient: they can foresee the possible incoming combination and devise an immediate plan of defense. We should discard any defense that would be applied blindly or merely instinctively. Even the best fighters depend on some sort of telegraph from their attacker. Furthermore there are no effective oyo against multiple attackers simultaneously. kata may train us to move advantageously so we need only deal with one attacker at a time, but it cannot effectively train us to defend against two opposing attacks. We also need to keep in mind that most of the kata defenses are applied at medium to short range; any defense that assumes long range is quite unlikely. We need not consider any defense that entails multiple blocks: if there is such a sequence either we are looking at repetitive training for balance or emphasis, or we are looking at one intercepting block followed by several attacks that resemble blocks. We should question any overly complex sequence or defense; they are unlikely to succeed in the real world and would require extensive training to perfect and maintain. Simple techniques are more dependable and most likely to be included in karate kata. The creators of the kata were likely to be practical men; they were warriors, not philosophers. Finally, we need to keep in mind that karate was for defense against common thugs, not karateka.

Keeping these notes in common, we should develop an idea of what really makes a good defensive combination. In high stress situations we typically need to minimize the number of decisions we need to make. Once we stand on dangerous ground, to paraphrase Sun Tsu, we undergo several physiological changes. This is called by self-defense gurus "the adrenalin dump". We lose much of our peripheral vision and hearing. Our fine motor skills deteriorate and our ability to make complex decisions becomes limited. In each defense situation the victim must apply what is called an OODAPE loop, which stands for Observe (the situation), Orient (yourself to the danger) Decide appropriate action, Act, and Evaluate the results. This sequence forms a loop, each action creating a new situation. The key to defense is to shorten the time required to complete each OODAPE loop; this can only be done if we limit the amount of thought involved and put most of our decisions onto the subconscious or "auto drive" function of our body. This is in fact the point of the endless repetitions of kihon we do in most karate classes: the student cannot perform a single technique properly if he has to think about how to do each technique each time he does that technique.(lifted liberally from Burgar. pp. 119)

With the concepts that the incoming attack is likely to come from a very short and predictable list of HAOV and that our defense need to be simple and flowing to keep the OODAPE loop short; we can formulate a list of qualities that will make the a bunkai sequence effective. Again, quoting from Mr. Burgar's book "Five Years, One kata"

  1. Proactive: most or all bunkai oyo will apply sen timing or sen sen no sen timing.
  2. Keeps the initiative. Once you have "entered", the momentum of the fight is maintained and the attacker is kept on the defensive.
  3. Maximizes safety by either using tai sabaki or forcing the attacker off balance. The very use of tai sabaki may unbalance the attacker by forcing him to suddenly start an OODAPE loop of his own.
  4. Maximizes redundancy: if one aspect of the technique or sequence fails, the rest of the technique will still result in loss of balance and momentum to the attacker.
  5. Simple enough to work under the "adrenalin" dump: it does not require complex thought or fine muscle control.
  6. Works well with natural, instinctive movements. Examples would be the two handed blocks seen at the beginning of both Heian Nidan and Heian Yondan: both of these techniques reflect a modification of the natural human "flinch" reflex where we bring our arms up and in front of our bodies to guard our heads.
  7. Maximizes predictable results: our actions will cause a predictable reaction in our opponent. Example would be a kick to the groin will usually cause the attacker to bend forward and drop his hands, leaving his face open to attack.
  8. Unbalances the opponent with each move.
  9. Leads the mind of the opponent. This is a variation of the judo creed "I push when you pull, I pull when you push". We want to make the attacker believe we are doing one thing when we are actually planning something else.
  10. Does not require large amounts of training time to perfect and maintain the skills.
  11. Range: will work dependably at a realistic fighting range. An example of unrealistic would be the yoko geri kekomi found in Nijushiho: it would be unlikely that a defender would be able to hold onto an attacker and kick him in the head with a side thrust kick, yet that is how the technique is frequently demonstrated in competition.
  12. Transferable skills: the demonstrated bunkai oyo trains skills found in other useful oyo, and therefore a sort of cross-training is occurring as you train each.
  13. Do the bunkai oyo show good balance as you work through a kata: are you merely defending against the same attack repeatedly with different techniques, or are you demonstrating a range of defenses against numerous different but common attacks.

Having explored all the elements that go into discovering the potential oyo found in our kata, we should now consider how we can train these skills and possibly benefit all aspects of our karate. Historically, the basis for karate kumite was pre-arranged kumite where both attacks and defenses were mutually understood. One form of this was yakusuku kumite (Cook, pp.31), which specifically utilized techniques harvested out of the kata. I would suggest that it would be worthwhile to return to this form of sparring, starting at the beginner levels. Beginners would apply only the most simple definition of the kata techniques, but against realistic street style attacks. At the entry level of this study, no variation from the kata would be considered. I have personally found that for the most part very effective, realistic defenses can be found within the kata without any alteration of the traditional techniques other than slight changes of embusen. Once the students developed a clear understanding of the unaltered traditional kata forms minor variations could be explored. Advanced karateka would be expected to create bunkai oyo independently, both with henka techniques and without any alteration. A program such as this, in my opinion, would demonstrate a complete understanding of our karate; integrating all three of kihon, kata and kumite. Training such as this would not replace the current curriculum but would augment kata training, returning meaning to the movements. With full understanding of the applications of the kata, the students would not only be able to form correct intent while training, most would see the true benefits of intense kata training. kata would once again resume its place at the core and heart of traditional karate.


Schmeisser, Elmar T , PhD "bunkai: The Secrets of Karate kata" Damashi Publications, 1999

Schmeisser, Elmar T. PhD "Channan: Heart of the Heians" Usagi Press 2004

Burgar, Bill, Rokudan "Five Years, One kata" Martial Arts Publishing 2003

Cook, Harry "Shotokan Karate: A Precise History" Page Brothers Ltd. 2001
Clark, Rick "75 Down Blocks: Refining Karate Technique" Tuttle Publishing 2003

Hopkins, Giles "The Teaching of Goju-Ryu kata" Journal of Asian Martial Arts Volume 14, Number 2. 2005

Langley, Scott, Yondan "kata: The Algebra of Karate" Shotokan Karate Magazine Issue 72. August 2002
Westerbrook and Ratti "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" Tuttle Publishing 1970

Vengel, John "Genjumin's Secrets" http://www3.baylor.edu/BUKarate/articles circa 2000.