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Bunkai - Analysis

Bunkai, in a basic sense, means to study the applications of the movements of kata. To practice kata without understanding the bunkai would be like reciting a speech without understanding any of the words.

Some applications are straightforward. Sometime a punch is just a punch. However, many grappling and joint manipulation techniques are also present in the kata, sometimes hidden as striking or blocking techniques.

Okinawan kata generally presume very close contact -- only as far as you can reach with your elbow. At that distance, the potential range of bunkai is very great. When you look at books explaining bunkai, the engagement distance is often too great.

The next time you are standing in a crowded elevator, ask yourself how you might apply the techniques of your favorite kata. Now imagine how it would be if the lights of the elevator were turned off and the elevator was shaking!

Bunkai brings kata to life.


Charles C. Goodin