I just want to make it perfectly clear that I have nothing against "closing", "backpedaling", "running away", or whatever. What I think that Uechi ryu gives me is the ability to efficiently express my intention. The ability to move my body in the same instant that my mind moves, whether it be backward, forward, side to side. Over the years there have been many experts of self defense, combatives, etc who have come to this forum and said that "karate *****".
Not in so many words, but you know the drill.
In the same period I have read the experiences of people who defied everything that has ever been said about "traditional martial arts". People who have survived the very kinds of situations that supposedly "karate" doesn't prepare you for.
Here's my new revolutionary theory:
There is no such thing as bunkai, or applications.
When Bruce Lee decried the "classical mess", was he talking about traditional methods of training people into the warrior mindset, or was he talking about the illusions and fallacies that have been layered onto the mind-body-spirit practices over decades of misuse and abuse, the complete lack of understanding of what is being aimed for.
Self defense is so simple, it's almost laughable, but there aren't that many people who really want to hear about it. As soon as you present the reality of interpersonal violence, most people's eyes glaze over. It's really impossible to teach something that any reasonable person would rather pretend doesn't exist.
Much easier to compartmentalize martial arts into techniques, bunkai, drills, competitions, dances. And yes, I'll say it, risk-laden, very skillful GAMES.
How many people would feel comfortable practicing Shotokan, for instance, if they knew that every time they stepped forward with the right foot and threw a punch with the right hand, they where actually practicing how to grab someone's throat and rip it out?
What does a closed fist mean to you? Is it a punch or a pull? The secret is that it shouldn't mean anything at all. You are not limited in your ability to survive. You have the right to respond instinctively and naturally to any circumstance that presents itself. There is only one true teacher, and karate, kung fu, yoga, meditation are all different ways to find it.
So, back to bunkai.
"sensei, what does this move mean?" "grasshopper, jump the sword a thousand times and you will understand".
It's really quite absurd. But that's okay, because so is life, and so are we. The only thing that isn't absurd is the movement that comes from the heart.