Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


"People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

It's a lot like the carpenter who sees the solution to every problem in terms of a hammer and a nail. The karate practitioner who has spent endless hours pounding a punching post or makiwara tends to interpret all kata in terms of punching, blocking, and kicking. How do we bring an open mind, a beginner's mind, to the analysis of kata (bunkai)?

For example:

This move in Seipai kata (right) is not a lower-level block or a block of a kick, even though the final position is low, as the left hand illustrates the first of these techniques in this picture.

This move from Seiunchin kata (left) (though the photograph shows the hands reversed, that is the non-kata side of the technique) is not an assisted punch, even though that is what it is often called, and that is how most schools interpret the bunkai.

And this move from Sanseiru kata (right) is not a block of a kick, even though the stance is low and the left arm is low and the eyes are focused out front and down, and even though one can find any number of people who say that's exactly what it is...it's not.

How then does one get around this prescribed way of seeing? How can we stop our expectations from informing our thinking? We generally see what we expect to see or what we are told to see, in some cases. Question what you are seeing and apply logic and martial principles (see "Principles," first blog post).

1 comment:

  1. It's all about the 'in-between'.