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A Perspective Study - What is Bunkai [分解]?

Caveat: This post is mine and mine alone. I the author of this blog assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this post. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding.)

Bet you the first thought that comes to mind it an explanation of a technique in regard to its possible applications in a fight or for self-defense, right? I am going to go a bit further in today’s post to answer the question, “What is bunkai?”

First, you have to have the characters/ideograms to adequately define this martial term. This is the one I use:

Bunkai [分解]: The characters/ideograms mean, “disassembly; dismantling; disaggregating; analysis; disintegrating; decomposing; degrading." The first character means, "part; minute of time; segment; share; degree; one's lot; duty; understand; know; rate; chances," the second character means, "unravel; notes; key; explanation; understanding; untie; undo; solve; answer; cancel; absolve; explain; minute." Bunkai means to analyze or disassemble, a term used to describe a process of breaking apart a form to explain the application toward fighting or in more modern times self-defense. It describes the meaning of a movement within the kata and basic techniques.

Second, this is the bare bones translation from one of many kanji translations found through Internet sources. Martial artists often assume, rightly so, that bunkai is pretty much about analyzing and dissembling kata, etc., to explain or demonstrate what one can do in relation to what one does to combatants. 

When I think of bunkai, I tend to think about a bit more than analysis of technique. Granted, this is a cornerstone of bunkai and martial arts but it is not the whole of bunkai. When I study things like concepts in martial arts for self-defense, when I study things like fundamental principles in martial arts for self-defense, and when I study the theories and philosophies then use that knowledge to disaggregate my study of martial arts especially toward self-defense I think, bunkai. 

When I study the history of the systems and then use those to analyze and segment and understand my martial arts practice and training I am using the bunkai of the system. Look at bunkai as another way to categorize concepts, principles and philosophies and so on under the heading of Martial Bunkai. It is NOT just explaining the techniques applications, it is explaining the applications that span the entire system of study, the discipline.

I have spent the last decade and more to discover the underlying meaning of my study of martial arts, specifically self-defense martial arts/karate. In order to find that underlying meaning, the systems bunkai, I have to research, disassemble, analyze, recompile, understand, solve, explain and teach and practice and train myself and others the system that is my martial arts (for self-defense).

Bunkai is not just an explanation of the techniques applications in the fight, it is about obtaining the martial bunkai that is the meaning of the system itself. It is the research, disassemble, analyze, recompile, understand, solve, explain and teach and practice and training of the theory, physiokinetics, techniques, and philosophy of the entire wholehearted system and it includes all the aspects of self-defense if that is included in your martial arts. 

Bunkai, not JUST about techniques anymore!

Primary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Secondary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
Ayoob, Massad. “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense”Gun Digest Books. Krouse Publications. Wisconsin. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997.
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000
Strong, Sanford. “Strong on Defense_ Survival Rules to Protect you and your Family from Crime.” Pocket Books. New York. 1996.
and more … see blog bibliography.

My Blog Bibliography

Cornered Cat (Scratching Post): http://www.corneredcat.com/scratching-post/
Kodokan Boston: http://kodokanboston.org
Mario McKenna (Kowakan): http://www.kowakan.com
Wim Demeere’s Blog: http://www.wimsblog.com

1 comment:

  1. Addendum: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 15:17hrs:

    The modern bubishi is coming along just fine. One of the best parts of this effort is I have almost all the material I want to create this bad bear. I realize now what Rory Miller was speaking of when his recent post was titled, “Hot Mess.” I would rather refer to the collection I am working with as a “gargantuan glob of material completely unorganized” but doable.

    I have it broken down into three main sections with plenty of material for chapters within the sections. I have, as previously displayed, the makings of a nice, not great or wonderful, cover for the book. I have the material available for putting the “mess” into form with function so that is just waiting for me to start putting it all into a Word document.

    Sometimes I get a bit excited yet uncomfortable when collecting and organizing, at least titles to materials, into proper position for the sections, etc. but then I get kind of excited that this just may come together in short order (hopeful). Not sure how much time will be involved since almost all of it is written up in one form or another.

    This seems, right.