4th Bunkai Seminar Debrief

White Rock Kenshinkan Dojo held it’s 4th annual Bunkai seminar. This year’s attendance was double previous years and had a strong showing, by both Federation members and first timers, and several returning karateka, as well. In all, martial artists representing the following systems came to share in kata concepts and applications:

Shorinryu | Goju Ryu | Kempo Jujitsu | Tae Kwon Do | Tang Soo Do | Keichu Ryu Shotokan | Kyokushin

I started these seminars in order to meet people after moving to Austin, but those that attended had a good time and seemed to want this kind of research, so we tried it annually and it took off, growing every year, often by word of mouth. (This year, we had to utilize both the front and back rooms!) I made it “open” in order to meet up with new friends but also as a way to help inform fellow martial artist from different systems that, since we often use the same kata, the application can differ but the concept is the same.

The secondary goal of these seminars were to challenge myself, as an instructor and karateka, to see if I could even get it off the ground. It then evolved to extending the information and keeping it fresh, as well as leading a group of karateka with experience across the spectrum.

The theme this year was “Get a Grip on your Kata” and we focused on kata application with emphasis on opponent control. We looked at common concepts within various kata and talked about the different application versions, as well as the context of Okinawan kata and how it informs the applications. This year, we included guest lecturers Matt Hamilton, who led a discussion on hubud principals and Adrian Williams who led a section on the Goju Ryu version of Seisan.

The session started with some fundamentals, consisting of stepping drills to help guide attendees that come from systems that focus on longer ranges to operating at kata range. It also serves to remind all of us on the benefits of body change and proper stances to set up the variety of applications. Kumu Matt then led the Hubud session, focusing on the passing, trapping and grabbing that can be found in kata. We paused from time to time to highlight examples found in several flavors of kata. After, that we tied the feet and hands together by combining the drills to prep for the bunkai work in the afternoon.

The Bunkai section kicked off with a small section on how the distance and position change application, using Fukyugata as an example of a basic kata “hiding” arm bars and throws, as well as strikes. We also talked about systems can vary using the same concept. As the participants worked on the material, we were lucky enough to have Don Foster, Kyoshi and Michael Veillon, Renshi help out with uncovering the concepts by working with the groups.

Instead of focusing on a particular kata we hopped around various “cross-platform” kata and worked on repeating concept in kata such as Fukyugata, Wansu, Pinan and Seisan, with some brief visits with Naihanchi, Chinto and Passai.

Overall, everyone indicated they had a great time! I know I did and appreciated the support of my Federation family.  I learn so much getting ready for and then leading these seminars and look forward to sharing this type of training to help us all understand and grow!