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#385823 - 03/09/08 04:19 PM Wither goest bunkai
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Bunkai as Mario McKenna defines it on his blog at http://okinawakarateblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/bunkai-vs-oyo.html . “The word "bunkai" does not mean "analayze" or "analysis" in the strictest sense. It literally means "to break apart.

I find it interesting how in Japan the term ‘bunkai’ came to mean the meaning of kata, or the application of a kata technique.

Thinking about bunkai as breaking things apart, I just found another example of this being done. Whether a Disney style Imagineering, or bunkai to the extreme, consider the Japanese Bunkai of the Guitar. They’ve taken the concept of working with 4 strings into 6 different one string guitar’s.

Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3baGEVywDUg .

Now each string on the guitar builds on the whole, does the bunkai guitar approach build as much?

Something to ponder.
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#385824 - 03/10/08 05:07 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Victor Smith]
Unyu Offline
Banned Member

Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 62
Loc: Where I'm At
Quote:

Bunkai as Mario McKenna defines it on his blog at http://okinawakarateblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/bunkai-vs-oyo.html . “The word "bunkai" does not mean "analayze" or "analysis" in the strictest sense. It literally means "to break apart.

I find it interesting how in Japan the term ‘bunkai’ came to mean the meaning of kata, or the application of a kata technique.

Thinking about bunkai as breaking things apart, I just found another example of this being done. Whether a Disney style Imagineering, or bunkai to the extreme, consider the Japanese Bunkai of the Guitar. They’ve taken the concept of working with 4 strings into 6 different one string guitar’s.

Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3baGEVywDUg .

Now each string on the guitar builds on the whole, does the bunkai guitar approach build as much?

Something to ponder.




Analyze and analysis denote a "breaking down" or "breaking apart" of components. Here's the definition:

analyze
v 1: consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to
discover essential features or meaning; "analyze a
sonnet by Shakespeare"; "analyze the evidence in a
criminal trial"; "analyze your real motives" [syn: analyse,
study, examine, canvass]
2: make a mathematical, chemical, or grammatical analysis of;
break down into components or essential features; "analyze
a specimen"; "analyze a sentence"; "analyze a chemical
compound" [syn: analyse, break down, dissect, take
apart] [ant: synthesize]
3: break down into components or essential features; "analyze
today's financial market"
4: subject to psychoanalytic treatment; "I was analyzed in
Vienna by a famous psychiatrist" [syn: analyse, psychoanalyze,
psychoanalyse]

So, bunkai and analysis are "same same".
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#385825 - 03/10/08 07:56 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Unyu]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Bryan,

Several years ago I had a Japanese English teacher stay at our home for several weeks. He was traveling with a group of his students visiting our town to work on their English skills.

He had studied Shorinji Kempo in University, which is not a kata based system. In our discussions I started talking about 'bunkai' of kata technique. He had no idea what I was referring to until I gave a lot of explanation.

He explained in standard Japanese usage, the term would be used as the mechanic bunkai'd your car to fix it.

The use of the term by some karate groups, is a specialized use of the term that only would have relevance to the group, non in standard Japanese use..

Just a comment on the Japanese language.

But their use of bunkai was to take it apart to 'fix' it, not how to use it.

So in that context I offered the taking apart of the guitar to 'fix' it.....
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#385826 - 03/11/08 11:56 PM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
It would be interesting to find when the first written material used the word 'bunkai'. An early reference is Mabuni's "Sepai no Kenkyu" pub. 1934.

The choice of words for the title: "kenkyu" which means 'study' or 'research'. In the book are pictures documenting the solo sequence and then corresponding application interpretations. There is no mention of analysis methods, only documentation of specific application interpretations. Interesting he didn't chose 'bunkai' or 'oyo' for the title.

Yet, the translated text of Seipai no Kenkyu in 2003 by Mario McKenna captions and references the applications as 'bunkai'. If he re-translated the text today, would it become 'oyo' ?

-or- did Mabuni himself use the term 'bunkai' to caption his photo's? Most readers don't have access to the original, nor can we deciper the kanji easily so the trust lays within the translation.

I have several translated works published and unpublished (one translated from French ) which use the term bunkai in reference to specific application. The word application and bunkai are also used interchangably.

If Mabuni used 'bunkai' to depict specific applications, then there is basis for stretching the term as such.

however, if it was mistranslated, then I suspect that 'first' mistranslation goes back well before 2003 and past the early 70's. Why do I think that? I have the original test/syllabus of our Goju school which was printed in the early 70's. It refers to bunkai and the way they meant it was for testing - by demonstrating specific applications. (although the term bunkai itself was not used in class. they never said 'pair up for bunkai' they always said 'pair up for kata drills' or similar).


so to answer the question, why is 'bunkai' translated into English to mean 'application' ? It appears to me that translators and people bringing Karate westward prior to the early 70's got it wrong - and it was never corrected or considered up until recently.


and 'oyo' I've never heard used or printed until 3 years ago.


In Japanese:
'bunkai' means decomposition (implied: for analysis).

'oyo' means application. or the Aikido use: 'oyo-waza' meaning applied variations of a base technique.


personally, I like using clear first language, so "kata drills" and "kata analysis" works best for me. It was mentioned to me that Matayoshi Shinpo didn't distinquish the two when he instructed the students to "play". trying variations based on principles. or similar in meaning to Aikido's 'oyo-waza'.


Perhaps prior to the invented language of karate terms and technical categories with structure, maybe the process of drill+analysis was within the same - the students just played with possibilities based on responsive interaction. as oppossed to separating out the two, leaving the student with static and dictated "if they do this, then I'll do that" application.


To use your guitar metaphore, a student learns chords and basics - then they play with those. analysis and drill are within the same act of playing. and 'analysis' doesn't have to mean cerebral. There are other senses which can analyize. best summed up in the phrase: "getting the ear and feel for guitar." vs. "mimicing a song, note for note".


I'm not a historian - just "playing by ear" hoping to add to the discussion.


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#385827 - 03/12/08 05:46 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Ed_Morris]
nahate Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 54
Loc: No VA suburbs of Wash DC
We've used bunkai with a couple of related meanings since 1972. It is sometimes used to describe a specific drill applying the entire kata, other times as a shorthand for the purpose of kata movements.

I'm not sure that it ever had a fixed precise meaning but rahter a semantic scope or range. It's meaning has always been context sensitive in my experience.

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#385828 - 03/12/08 08:22 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Ed,

Yes it is interesting seeing the use of bunkai in Mabuni's writings, BUT, is there any evidence that it was used prior to that time? There are those who trained in Okinawa (Dan Smith comes to mind) who maintain the Okinawan language used by karate-ka never included the term.

It is reasonable that the writings of Funakoshi and Mabuni were written for a Japanese audience and the terminology they used was shaped for that audience, instead of the likely non-verbal Okinawan instruction. I think of their writings as a tag team. Mabuni the more gifted but Funakoshi the Senior, both students of Itosu. Funakoshi writing on Itosu's (and his art) and then Mabuni choosing to then follow his Hiagonna K. training to share another dimension of Okinawan arts.

However, my intent in this line of discussion was standard Japanese usage of bunkai, to take apart, not the group specific definition for some karate groups.

When they bunkai'd the guitar and then 'put it back together' was it better? Was there value in tearing something apart and building something new?

It's an analogy and of course slippery at best, but a thought.
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#385829 - 03/14/08 10:27 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Victor Smith]
Chatan1979 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/21/05
Posts: 338
Loc: Mahomet , Illinois
A couple of good books that I have found that cover some of the definitions of Bunkai are "Shihan-Te and "Tuite". The second book is by Javier martinez, the first book's author escapes me at the moment. Any way both books basically justify the term Bunkai as a sort of catch all term for application, but then they go so far as to divide bunkai into 3 catagories: Oyo, henka and Kakushi. Im at work so I dont have time to explain them all, but Im sure others have heard of these terms and or have read these books.
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#385830 - 03/14/08 10:47 AM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Chatan1979]
Ironfoot Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 2682
Loc: St. Clair Shores, MI USA
In my own little "who gives a damn about the inscrutible Japanese language" way, I define henka as "taking basic bunkai a little further" and oyo as "going overboard".
Never heard of Kakushi.
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#385831 - 03/25/08 12:31 PM Re: Wither goest bunkai [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Ed,

I was able to research the question of the use of Bunkai a little thanks to the efforts of Mario McKenna.

In Mabuni's "Sepai no Kenkyu", pub. 1934, Mabuni uses the term "bunkai setsumei" or "breakdown/apart and explanation".

He did not use the term 'bunkai' as a stand alone itself. The French edition of that work just used the term Bunkai, and I can understand why Mario translated it just usingi 'Bunkai' as todays more standard usage.

I think the original is telling. As to wheter it is the first, I'm trying to find out if Funakoshi, Motobu or Mutsu used the term in their works. Either way would be interesting trying to see who used it first, before 1933. (There are other early authors but outside of my direct knowledge).

Linguistically, just a linguistic dabbler myself, I still think exactness is worth the additional time.
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