And does it leave questions unanswered and things unexplained? Does it become "just another bunkai," like a 10 second sound bite, that gets viewed passively as we scroll through things on the Internet or social media, searching for anything that will provide a quick minute of entertainment.
So I went out to the barn dojo and filmed a kata sequence with him: first the kata movements and then the bunkai. I decided to start with the first sequence of Seiunchin kata, only because the conventional interpretation of these moves is...well, the conventional interpretation has always seemed to me to be so bad, so illogical.
But in a short 28 second video clip how can I explain that any bunkai that doesn't show why you step forward into shiko dachi is ignoring an important lesson from the kata? How can I explain that thematically the kata is showing a series of responses to a cross-hand grab and that the defender doing kata brings both hands to the outside? And I can't really show that this bunkai echoes a similar technique we find in Suparinpei--that is, it's a variation, because it's a system where the applications from different kata all seem to fit together and reinforce the same principles. The effort in practicing kata and bunkai should be to discover (the original intent) not to create.
But I tried to explain things in the book, The Kata and Bunkai of Goju-Ryu: the essence of the Heishu and Kaishu kata. And since I can't seem to figure out how to upload a viewable video on here, I'm going to put a few videos on my Facebook account (under my name) and on Instagram at "Kodokangoju." Nothing professional, just some amateur videos that show technique. I hope they prove useful and perhaps even spark some discussion. And if you try any of them out, please be careful.
Check it out: