Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Bad Bunkai Guide

1. The Stooge. Always have a willing subject happy to have a Jason Bourne routine performed on them. They must not resist, deviate from the script or show any emotional content. Essentially the stooge must be the complete opposite of a psychotic, unpredictable attacker intent on committing real violence. Another essential quality of the stooge is to only attack at the right time and wait patiently for their cue to attack or it may upset the bunkai flow which would mean having to start all over again.

2. Scripted attacks. Attacks should always be agreed upon beforehand removing one of the key problems in violent confrontation which is the difficulty in predicting when and what a person will do. A well scripted attack will lack any real intent, commitment and will be an isolated technique setting the stage for the reactive bunkai. One of the many benefits of agreeing beforehand what the attacks will be is that concealed weapons, rapidly escalating violence and other people getting involved in the scenario can be confidently ignored guaranteeing victory every time.

3. Conflicting body habits. Always have at least a dozen bunkai for responding to every attack. Having 20+ responses to a wrist grab, lapel grab or straight Karate punch wont really cause conflicting body habits it simply proves what a wonderful bunkai collection a person has and woe to anyone who dares to perform a single attack in a one on one duel. Being spoilt for choice in how to respond isn't confusing for the brain and body, having 20 kata mash-ups for taking on the fearsome oi-zuki (and other deadly attacks) can only make you more effective in the heat of violent confrontation.

4. A liberal approach to kata. Having a liberal approach to kata means being inclusive of all styles, versions of kata and having the freedom to create as many applications as humanly possible. This is essential so that no one's feelings can ever be hurt and more importantly everyone's opinion is equally valid!

5. Sweeping statements. Always be sure to make sweeping statements like 'kata are complete systems of self defence' or 'kata contain all the principles of fighting' without ever backing up such statements or offering any proof. Ending up in a critical debate could mean deviating from point 4 resulting in feelings being hurt and even worse someone might be wrong.

6. Credibility. Always maintain a veil of credibility by quoting famous Karate teachers (ideally Okinawan), so that it appears there is a strong link between the old and very very new. Even if many of the old masters didn't teach any kata applications don't worry, a bit of mythology can only enhance the bunkai experience.

Please contact us with any comments or questions by emailing Tom Maxwell at, thanks for reading!!!