|People often hold this first position|
in Saifa for much longer than they
would if they were applying it.
|Most people hold or chamber their|
kicks when they perform Saifa kata--
something that would be too slow
I am not advocating that kata be done at a hyper-accelerated speed. (I'm not sure why Hokama sensei does super fast kata. I'm sure he has a reason.) There are techniques in kata that don't need to be fast. There are grappling techniques and techniques that manipulate and move the opponent's body that would necessarily require less speed. But one doesn't stand poised on one leg before the execution of a kick. And if a grab follows a block, then it must be done quickly or realistically the opponent would withdraw his arm.
|The opening move in Seipai|
is often done in an overly
I think the same sort of unreality often comes into play with people who profess to attack vital targets with a single knuckle punch or finger strike. A confrontation is fast, dynamic, and constantly changing. To imagine that you're going to be able to hit a small pressure point on an aggressive and moving target may be a bit unrealistic. I always liked Sifu Liu's response to a student who asked about pressure points. Liu Sifu (of Feeding Crane) said he just hits the area with the whole hand, and that ought to cover it.
If kata is meant to preserve technique and allow the practitioner to practice technique when he or she is alone--when there isn't a partner to train with--as a method to perfect technique that we will eventually learn to apply against an opponent, then why don't we practice it the way it is meant to be applied? Why not practice kata with the same speed and sense of reality that we would use in doing bunkai? Instead, we seem to do kata as if it were some separate dance performance. Watch the overly stylized and dramatic performances of kata at tournaments. Even credible and supposedly knowledgeable practitioners of Okinawan karate succumb to the histrionics of this performance paradigm. Where did it begin? Why has it continued? It seems to me that it's one more shroud pulled over the eyes of the unwary--one more thing that makes bunkai so difficult to "see" within kata. Change the rhythm and the speed of techniques and who knows what you may come up with...or not.