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Bunkai -- Qualified

I'm going to guest teach a Karate class soon, and I have been thinking about what to teach. I pretty much always teach body dynamics (because that is emphasized in my style of Shorin-Ryu) but I was thinking about teaching bunkai (applications of the movements of kata). I discussed this with the instructor of the dojo I am going to visit and decided upon teaching body dynamics, but not for the reason you might think.

I have reached a point where the bunkai I tend to teach is not suitable for children to see. To be frank, the applications are too violent and in many cases, deadly. There are things that children simply should not learn and probably should not see.

Karate is an effective art when the techniques are brutal. But would it be as effective if the deadly and terrible techniques were removed?

Think about it. Instead of kicking the groin, you would kick to the stomach. Instead of poking or raking the eyes, you would punch to the chest. Instead of dislocating the attacker's arm, twisting him around and breaking his neck, you would... I guess you would punch him in the chest again.

With the brutal techniques removed, Karate is not very effective. We have to realize that. Without such techniques, Karate is size dependent -- the bigger and stronger person would usually win. For those of us who are smaller and weaker, that means that we would usually lose.

I will not show certain techniques to children. I wonder if Itosu Sensei faced the same problem? When formulating the Pinan kata, do you think that he sanitized the bunkai for consumption by children? I'm pretty sure that he did. Then that sanitized version of Karate was taught to successive generations of students. It is no wonder that many Karate students today question the effectiveness of their techniques.

But still, there are things I will not show to children.


Charles C. Goodin