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#318224 - 08/05/08 09:39 PM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Yugen83]
Shonuff Offline
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Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Interesting... which came first, the application or the principle? Which one was the kata designed to house?
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#318225 - 08/13/08 01:54 AM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Shonuff]
Yugen83 Offline
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Registered: 08/02/08
Posts: 110
Loc: Southern Maryland
Quote:

Interesting... which came first, the application or the principle? Which one was the kata designed to house?




I would guess the principle came first and that the kata was designed to house the principles. A principle can beget myriad techniques and applications, so it would seem like the logical starting point instead of trying to work in reverse. Working in reverse would be sort of like building the house to figure out what blue print you are going to draw up instead of drawing up the blue print from the start and then working from it to build the house.....Ok, now I am confusing even myself, I'll just quit while I am ahead. Very intriguing topic, though.
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#318226 - 08/13/08 01:59 AM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Yugen83]
Yugen83 Offline
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Registered: 08/02/08
Posts: 110
Loc: Southern Maryland
Oh yeah, and I was thinking like, techniques are empty in and of themselves, however, principles give those techniques a purpose and a context. So I was also thinking that since principles are concepts that really don't need techniques instead of vice versa, that perhaps the kata, based on principles, came first. The bunkai would come as a result of applying the original principles of the kata in a combat situation.
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#318227 - 08/26/08 02:34 PM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Yugen83]
Ironfoot Offline
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Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 2682
Loc: St. Clair Shores, MI USA
The bunkai came first, as it is linked to a technique. Kata are assemblages of the techniques of a great master and/or fighting system.
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#318228 - 08/26/08 09:38 PM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Ironfoot]
dandjurdjevic Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 844
Loc: Australia
Having done at least some analysis of Chinese techniques vs. Okinawan techniques I can say this: techniques survive, even when katas morph into different forms.

Techniques are often ancient: they can be isolated, packaged, repackaged and reisolated.

Techniques come first. The packaging is often irrelevant.

My instructor taught me stray qin-na moves (complete with appropriate footwork). I decided to "package" them for practise, so I combined the moves into 2 sequences that enable me to groove or drill that footwork. Where techniques had approximately the same footwork I adopted a "compromise" move that would serve both techniques (rather than create a pointlessly long sequence). So a "kata" is born.

I'm certain that this is the process by which most, if not all, functional kata were created. IMHO kata can't "come first" in any logical sense...
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#318229 - 08/26/08 11:27 PM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: dandjurdjevic]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
an interesting spin to add, is the documented suggestion that some forms were created for aesthetic value only. Have a read of the compilation of Chinese Training Manuals by Brian Kennedy. also the book on turn-of-the-20th century Chinese sport programs by Andrew Morris.

It's reported that some forms were composed with a sortof street-performer advertisement mindset during the 19th century. and during the 20th, forms designed specifically for athletic and dexterity exercise.
The aesthetic: Body movements to interest and attract for recruitment into schools (which often doubled as political movements during the various insurrections in Chinese history).
The physical: China (and many Asian countries for that matter), sought to beef up their physical ed. programs during the turn of the 20th century. as they engaged the world arena, they saw how their social stuctures were lacking in the area of phys ed in schools and culture. With added programs and much propaganda, they turned that image around.


so it seems, tracing back to older forms do not, by definition, necessarily bring you closer to your goal (assuming your goal is extracting fighting principles from traditional kata of Chinese origin).

Does your kata come from an Okinawan, who learned an aesthetic Chinese form and perhaps changed it to attempt to meet his needs and abilities during his time period? or is the kata you have an exact replica passed down with effective fighting principles intact?

this thread's question is a double-edged sword: your kata could be a composition made from forms which had no 'application' or an application which is different from what you intend to use them for now.

In a way, you are retrofitting your intent into a kata, in order to exctract your intent....which is a self-fullfilling prophecy. I'm sure you'll find exactly what you were looking for and claim kata-based training a victory.

An excellent argument to address: why not just train your intent without the self-imposed baggage of kata? If you go back far enough, there must have been a time when there was no kata - how on earth did they learn how to battle? and I would argue, the further back you go, the more hand-to-hand combat you'll find. so the birds-eye view moving back in time: more hand-to-hand combat, yet less kata. hmmmm.


...just thought I'd throw that log on the fire.

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#318230 - 08/26/08 11:48 PM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Ed_Morris]
dandjurdjevic Offline
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Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 844
Loc: Australia
Note my reference to "functional kata". Some kata might well have been designed for aesthetics only; modern wushu forms come to mind. However the Fujian systems from which Okinawan karate can hardly be said to be "aesthetic" imo.

As to practising without kata - sure, this can be done. However I happen to find kata a useful tool, so why would I not include it as part of my training method? After all, it is for this reason that I "packaged" the qin-na techniques into sequences of movement; in other words, I found it useful to do so for solo practise.

So yes, it is possible to train without kata. It is possible to train without a lot of methods (makiwara, certain exercise equipment). I'm less interested in whether kata is/was "necessary" than I am in what use/enjoyment I find in it today.
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#318231 - 08/27/08 12:33 AM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: dandjurdjevic]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
it's a function of enjoyment, I agree. but I've seen non-kata MAists show just as much interest and have a 'fun factor' in what they do as well.

does that mean kata was originally designed for fun?

given a fun kata-based training system, and an equally fun non-kata based system, which method meets what particular goals beyond satisfying that fun factor?

I don't want to turn this into a kata/non-kata debate - my point is motivated in getting to the heart of the thread's opening question.

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#318232 - 08/27/08 01:22 AM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: Ed_Morris]
dandjurdjevic Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/10/08
Posts: 844
Loc: Australia
Quote:

it's a function of enjoyment, I agree. but I've seen non-kata MAists show just as much interest and have a 'fun factor' in what they do as well.




As I said, I'm less interested in why others can and do train successfully/enjoyably without kata, than whether kata is a potentially useful/enjoyable tool per se. Some people don't like makiwara and train successfully on bags. Ditto vice versa. This doesn't mean that one or other is not potentially useful or enjoyable.

Quote:

does that mean kata was originally designed for fun?




I don't see anything justifying this conclusion. As far as I can tell kata was designed because it fulfilled a function. Yes, an abhorrent "tool" will be avoided, so there had to be some element of "enjoyment". However this is true for any training method.

In the end I am satisfied that kata has a function. Given this (and the fact that I enjoy it), I will practise kata as part of my training. If someone else doesn't like it, they could probably dispense with it (just as I don't like heavy bags and dispense with that).

Quote:

given a fun kata-based training system, and an equally fun non-kata based system, which method meets what particular goals beyond satisfying that fun factor?

I don't want to turn this into a kata/non-kata debate - my point is motivated in getting to the heart of the thread's opening question.




I find kata to a useful way of grooving good technique in a dynamic context. I happen to think it is harder (though still very possible) to do so without kata. The question of who will meet their goals is so relative to the individuals practising MA that I would find it near impossible to answer.
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#318233 - 08/27/08 11:24 AM Re: Which came first: kata or bunkai [Re: student_of_life]
JAMJTX Offline
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Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
Actually neither. There could not be bunkai until after there was kata.
But the kata grew out of a need to pass down teaching in some organized way that students can remember and practice on thier own. The genius of the kata was that, wihtout being shown bunkai, it could be very difficult if not impossible for a non-student to to learn.

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