- As with all martial arts,
the art of Shotokan Karate is based on certain underlying
- These fundamentals are
themselves the "backbone" of Shotokan Karate
and they include a wide variety of stances, blocks,
strikes, and kicks, just to name a few.
- When used in conjunction
with each other and properly combined with balance,
posture, speed, and timing, these fundamentals give an
experienced student a seemingly endless array of
defensive and offensive combinations to choose from.
- Because it is upon these
fundamentals that everything else in Shotokan Karate is
based, very little flexibility is permitted in their
specific performance or placement, especially when they
are employed in the various kata taught within the
- It is when a student learns
to apply a kata's pre-determined defensive and offensive
movements against a specific partner that the kata's true
nature is revealed and a method of training known as
bunkai is born.
- Bunkai can be described as
"the physical demonstration, of a practical
application, for each of the various techniques and
movements that are required to be performed within an
- The importance of bunkai
can not be stressed enough, since it is through this
method of training that students are afforded the
opportunity to learn to apply their fundamental
techniques against a pre-planned attack while still
within the confines of a controlled and friendly
environment. The presence of a person in place of thin
air, however, will add a whole new dimension to a
student's training, often as not causing them in the
early stages to loose their focus and at the same time
undermining their self-confidence.
- For these reasons and many
others most junior ranks never delve to deeply into
bunkai, and in failing to do so they deprive themselves
of the many skills that this type of training instils.
- For those adventuresome
senior students, however, who have established a firm
foothold on the concept of bunkai as required for all
twenty-six katas, there is another path they can seek to
walk that goes one step further.
- This is the exploration of
- "Oyo" in turn can
best be described as "going beyond bunkai".
- By that I mean a student
demonstrating the bunkai for a specific kata is somewhat
limited. Since in most cases their applications will be
based as we already know on a specific series of
movements done in a pre-described order. This then forces
the student to deal with the assumption that there are
multiple attackers, in which case they are usually
limited to one block, one attack or one combination for
each movement of the kata, before having to turn and deal
with the next attacker.
- Bunkai therefore allows the
student to demonstrate the proper flow of the kata but
usually nothing further.
- In oyo, however, the
student is free to treat each individual attack as a one
on one fight, which by necessity will need to be taken to
an ultimate and definitive end. Thus oyo goes one step
beyond bunkai by following through with techniques and
applications that might be more practical in a one on one
situation where there was no need to continue on in a pre-specified
- It is this freedom to
"choose what comes next" and "just how far
you take it" that allows the student to deal with an
individual attacker in a way that feels "most
natural" for them when given no preconceived
restrictions. It is then the type and the severity of
each situation that dictates what fundamentals are
selected and how firmly they are applied.
- Where as in bunkai you go
from one attacker to the next with the lingering prospect
that the attacker you just dealt with may not be "out
of action". Oyo on the other hand puts an end to
that possibility by finishing what was started in a
manner that in no uncertain terms renders any further
action by the attacker highly unlikely.
- So practice your kata well,
learn to understand where bunkai fits into your training,
and when you want to explore a little more deeply try
giving oyo a go. You may be surprised at that you
discover on the next rung of the karate ladder.
- "Karate ni sente nashi"
- "there is no first strike in karate" a good
defence, however, is another matter altogether.
- Doing what
feels natural to you is the
between thinking and reacting.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."