If all you have is a hammer...
Look on the internet these days and you will find a plethora of "Bunkai experts" displaying their interpretations of Kata bunkai as if they had always known this aspect of karate or that they had spent a very long time researching the hidden meanings of the waza.
From what they show, it seems that many (not all) have simply been engaged in reverse-engineering waza, not starting from historical basics.
When I began my own studies into Bunkai, some 25 years or so ago, I was simultaneously engaged on Ph.D. research at university and had long become accustomed to the methodology of accurate research, and one of the main elements which was important to a correct understanding of a subject was that one had to always place the subject within its milieu, in its own time and place.
That means having a good knowledge of the science, technology and the psychology of the period. Without this, one can end up with an explanation which might appear to fit the appearance of the ( in this case - technique) but which in fact may not be correct because it reflects current science, technology and society, not that in which it was developed.
In this week in which we have seen the horrific murder of an unarmed young soldier on the streets of England by two terrorist thugs armed with machetes and other weapons, we are brought up with a sudden jerk, as we become aware of the fact that - if we consider our own possible responses to such a situation - much of the bunkai which is being taught would not have been of great help!
Why? Because by far the great majority of it is not correctly researched and is presented largely as responses to unarmed assailants in line with common Dojo practice! more...