Van Canna Sensei says:'Genjumin-San, please feel free to give us the benefit of your experience with the prerranged bunkai/kumite execution, from the learning stage to application in combat, and percentage of effectiveness.'
Yes,Sir.I shall be happy to share this with everyone.
I have been exposed to a great many such drills in Okinawan Kenpo, several other styles of shorin ryu, kung fu, T'ai Chi, Aiki arts, Judo, etc.
I do not find them effective unless they are practiced against resistance, with intent, at realistic ranges , and as though you really both mean it.
I believe that by the time one is introduced to such drills , especially at dan level, one should have already trained in realistic defense and counter to every single technique in their system, or why are these being done?
If dan-level karateka are not doing these drills spontaneously, something needs to be reevaluated in karate training.
In Kenpo a series of graduated two-person drills is taught, or used to be, from white belt, involving blocking, punching and kicking against an opponent who is going to unbalance you with a block and control you, or punch or kick through your block, as yo both try to prevail.
In Shorin ryu Matsubayashi, a series of prearranged kumites is taught in a manner known as 'live'Kumite,like Judo Kata are meant to be done, where if you do not do the technique correctly the opponent has license to take you down.
In Judo, goshinjutsu waza are done in a realistic manner-you don't move right, kerwhop!Used to be, anyway.
If kumite/bunkai are done 'live' and dangerous, they work in actual use.
IOkinawan Kenpo Seisan Kumite, there is a move in bunkai where we turn around and ridge hand strke/block to opponent's ar, turn palm down, lock on that arm and pull/smash the opponent into the ground.Done on a mat, you really try to, as both of you stand in seisan stance(sort of a longer sanchin stance) and your opponent resists being pulled off balance by strengthening his stance.
When your opponent is good at resisting, it seems an ineffective technique.But done against someoe not used to the drill , ah- a different story.Let me tell one.
At a dojo once, where Black belts fro different styles in the same city came once a week to train,a man came who could box and kick, full contact, somewhat. This was about 1978.
He fought with some of the black belts in Taekwon Do, then wanted to go with me.I said, 'Sir, I don't think you want to do that.'I knew I didn't-someone was going to be hurt, and it wasn't going to be me, if I could help it.
He said, why don't I?I said, come here and I'll show you why.I got in seisan stance, facing him with morote chuudan kamae.I said, throw a punch.Well, he did- a nice right cross which I locked onto and put him right on the floor on his face.
He got up and said, you're right-I don't want to spar with you.You're saying to me with that stance,'Just come on in and I'll tear you up."
I said,"Oh, you'd have hit me-but you wouldn't have liked the price.'
As Robert Service wrote,'Belike the price of a Jackal's meal was more than they cared to pay.':-)
Iwasn't going to dance with the guy-I was going to take him out, and he knew it.He didn't want any.Pounding on karate tournament players was one thing,messing with someone who seriously was going to hurt him was another.He was a bully.Later when we all went out to a place to eat, he found out I was, in adddition to being a karateka, a Brown Belt Juoka-and he almost went into shock.That scared him!
Yo see, he qwas getting over on the karateka with boxing skills from inside their range-apparently he had found out judo works from body to body range quite well against boxers.
The mindset to have practicing prearranged kumite/bunkai is this:I am going to rip about a pound of stuff out of you and I don't even care what you think you're going to do to me.Or as a lightweight boxer once said(was it Willie Pep?),'While you're having a steakdinner off of me I'm going to have a sandwich or two off of you.
Now this may sond to some like a mach attitude, but really, you have got to have this mindset when you practice techniques designed to defend your lfe and that of others, or what the hell are you doing them for?(Pardon my French, please:-)
And while we are on the subject, if you can't make every move in your first kata work against a real attacker, why are you doing your second, third and fourth?
What is the problem, here?I realize the Okinawan masters did each their own kumite and bunkai,and I know that some of the stuff that is written in stone maybe shouldn't be, but if a technique or drill works if done realistically and is the most efficient way to train realistic responses , it should be kept.Otherwise, I say what are we doing it for?
Van Sensei, you say this has been a frustrating, maybe the most frustrating, aspect of your training.Well, I sure do understand that!
When does an art become set in stone?I understand respect for those who pass on the art to us, but I also understand save your life comes first.If we no longer understand the purposes of a set of prearranged bunkai or kumite, we either need to restudy them until we do, or find out they are flat outdated and come up with something better.
Older isn't always better.I create my own two person drills only when the stuff I got taught seems not to be as good as it should be, then I go right ahead and do it.
Glad you liked the Secret Scrolls.Yes, one should train realistically and the two man drills should be the most realistic training, with real inten(but control), along with properly executed kata and basics.
If they are not, I say, fix them so they are.
And yes, if one fails to take control instantly upon contact with the attacker, why did you come in contact with the attacker?
Otherwise do kata and hit the heavy bag and visualise.These things done incorrectly do more harm than good.
In actual combat, how do prearranged drills work, in my experience?Well, I was blessed with two excellent things:Instructors who believed in constant work on the basics under realistic circumstances, and necessity to make them work, for I was in real circumstances.
Most prearrnged drills I did had to do with blocking and striking, avoiding and timing and countering.They worked just fine in actual situations, just as they were supposed to.But I didn't spend time working on silly stuff, either.
Want to know how to create realistic drills?Look at Olympic Judo training.You isolate every part of a technique and work it to perfection, then you put it all back together and work it with a partner, at first slow and easy, then harer and faster, then finally against opposition, hundreds of times a practice.
Then after a few months, you go on to the next tecnique.You've heard of the book"Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten'?
Well, everything I need to know about self defense I learned in Basic Judo.In the first six months, in fact.
Stance, stepping,, breathing, evasion, footwork, grasping the opponent, not letting them grasp you until you were ready, unbalancing, executing, follow through, attention on opponent after finishing.Kake, Kuzushi, Tsukure, Kaboom!:-)(Lock on, destroy foundation(unbalance), execute, Nuke 'em!)
What more can I say?Keep in mind the safety of your training partners, but learn it right or don't learn it at all!
If we aren't training to protect ourselves with martial arts tecniques, either learn the BT and J or DD and F(Back Turn and Jog or Drop, Draw and Fire!:-) Or the DP and F(Duck, Prayand Fight.)Nothing else is going to help and I think we are kidding ourselves especially at Dan level if we don't train better with this stuff.
Respectfully, John Versteeg
Author of the Secret Scrolls of Self Defense, available free on another thread, only here on Uechi Ryu Forums!