I agree with you Brian.
I'll throw a couple things out there....opening move Seiunchin bunkai:
* lapel grab release.
* double wrist grab release.
* defense against someone trying to steal your coffee.
* and bla
There are plenty of 'if X then do Y' applications...most of them sound very effective in text... look effective in pictures.... seem effective on video. feel effective (hopefully) in training.
What are applications anyway? are they X vs.Y applications of kata movements or are they applications of kata principals?
The example movement (opening to Goju-Seiunchin) principal is what exactly? (first of all, there are two alternative openings - one, the most common, is closed fists drop down into shiko dachi: http://www.infonegocio.com/shihan/morio.gif
the other one is a secret. lol)
I understand the open move to be an application of off-balancing in a downward direction. thats it. thats all you need to know to be able to come up with N-teen SD applications.
The popular bunkai for this is crap.
If someone was throtling my neck, or even double grabbing my lapel...I wouldn't be grabbing the wrists and pulling down- I'd probably kick or break the hold violently - and why drop your weight down first anyway?...looks easier than it is against a resisting opponent. Depending on your and opponents position, you might be better off breaking the grip with your elbows from the top...THEN perhaps grabbing and off-balancing.
so what is the first movement then? I suspect it was altered over the years for posturing, but the basic principal is there. break a grip, grab, off-balance. The alternative beginning shows the breaking of the grip ...the other version does not.