You know, we go over this and over this, but we just can't seem to get to the heart of it, can we?
We argue over kata technique and "application", but that's like finding a tool of an ancient society and conjecturing as to it's "actual" use. Like the moves of our kata, it can be ANYTHING -- EVERYTHING that we choose it to be.
And on this subject, I went toe-to-toe with Rick Wilson right here on this Forum less than a year ago. You might remember the discussion. I wrote:
"Kata first and foremost ARE for improving form and working on broad principles, but not for “figuring out” anything. If you are thinking of “application” in kata, how do you achieve “Mushin”? And when you assign a meaning to each kata, or to the technique in each kata, doesn't that automatically preclude that kata or move from meaning ANYTHING ELSE, if even for only a moment?
My point is this: Kata for form, yes. Kata for balance, yes. Kata for endurance, strength, speed, timing, yes, yes, yes and yes. Kata for “meaning”, no. Why? Because the application in kata is so apparent, but still so ambiguous. Is that a block or a sweep? A strike or a grab? If it's one (at that moment) it cannot be the other. When it is both, it is kata. Then it is form.
My teacher once asked me if I had ever considered the three revolving boshikens in Seisan to be anything else but boshikens. I said, “Blocks”. He said, “Good,” but reminded me that for a very long time in Okinawa, the practice of martial arts was a big no-no. The result? Many of the “meanings” in the kata were missing or hidden. Knowing this, he asked me to stretch my imagination to see if I could envision the three boshiken in reverse as three clawing techniques to the face instead. Now THAT is martial application is it not? And MAN were my eyes opened.
But what had he done, really? Had he figured something out that Kanbun had not? Or had he finally showed me that all things are no things and that kata can be everything and nothing all at once?
Don't “ruin” kata by assigning “style” or meaning to them, Rick. Yes, applications are evident in everything we do. I use them a lot as example of what the kata COULD be used for, but with the understanding that there is more, lots more. Seen in this way, we do no service to our style or to the kata by “figuring them out”. Instead, we cheapen them; bastardize them; hog-tie them. Don't fall victim to this, Rick. Be bigger and braver than this. Have faith in the kata and in our system. Leave the meaning, the style and the application to other areas of our practice."
Fast forward to today. . . I question you. A rather simple question at that: What is the meaning, or application of our Sanchin thrust? Maybe it's a nerve strike? Maybe it's used to rip the heart out of the chests of the weak? Maybe a grab? Maybe it's really just practice to get the beer out of the refrigerator faster??!!
And on this question of what's "real", I ask you what is more real than standing face-to-face with the world's best fighters? How many of you have even THOUGHT about approaching THAT level of REAL training before you sit around and pat each other on the backs over the new strike or grab you just made up?
Bill writes: But sport fighting is sport fighting, and is artificial. It is a facimile of fighting, but ultimately it is a sport - period. This is not a controversial statement, is it? I think Gary would agree.
And I do, Bill, but. . .
I remind you and all of those who say there are no "rules" on the street -- YOU ARE WRONG! To say that, you admit to me and everyone that you have never actually seen one, nevermind been in one!
So what are these rules? They are written in our penal code! Check them out sometime! They're fascinating! Kick a person with a shod foot: Felony. 2 - 10 years. In a tournament, the same full-power, rib breaking kick will get you only one point.
Smash someone's face in on the street? Ah, intent to maim or disfigure. Felony. Tournament? Warning.
The REAL truth is that like tournaments, there are rules everywhere! And like tournaments, there are people who will follow them, and those who won't.
Jim Deluca who trains at my school (and who very well might be the toughest person I ever met) spoke to me on this subject of street fighting, rules and what's real. He said, "People say there are no rules on the street and that's just plain B.S. In most fights people do not try to poke your eyes out, bite your fingers off or kill you. Sure these things happen, but usually, people follow some kind of rules, even when they street fight."
Bill continues in his post, AN IMPORTANT POINT!:
If sport fighting met all our needs, then we would abandon kata and bunkai and prearranged kumite, wouldn't we? We would give out ranks totally based on how you rank on the tournament circuit. But we don't do that. Good!
And on Bill's second point, regarding free sparring and it's place in our practice, I've got bad news for you: The reason we don't do MORE of it is because 1.) People FEAR it like they fear death; 2.) Teachers don't know how to teach it; 3.) It's too damn dangerous, once people get good at it and 4.) People are really more concerned with making a buck than really teaching martial (whatever that is!) arts!
Remember boys, the bunkais and pre-arranged kumites were added LATER to SLOW DOWN sparring practice (which was too REAL for most folks). Bunkais and kumites are stupid, out dated, and a waste of valuable practice time once you pass your first dan rank!
Want proof? Walk into any boxing gym. No pre-arranged BS there! Now compare any of their 1 year boxers to ANY of our 1 year students! See the difference? THOSE people have skills! That's trial by fire, baby! THAT'S the reality you're all hiding from.
You don't like "point" sparring? Go cry in your soup if you want. But for crissakes, stop whining about it. It's OK, no one's going to MAKE you do it!
Stay safe. Do your bunkais, do your kyu kumite. Then finish practice, get on your computers and debate the REAL meaning of the part of Sanchin after the bow when you move your feet apart.
I'll be in my dojo training...