There are two ways to do a kata: one for form and the other for function, or in other words – Bunkai. I’ve done enough bunkai to know that every move in a kata has more than one function, the tough part is figuring out exactly what that is.
I am used to doing kata for form, trying to make my movements as sharp as possible and letting my body take over instead of my head. I feel with bunkai I am taking a step backwards though, because suddenly my head takes over again and I’m constantly thinking about who is standing where and at what level the next attack will be placed. Adjusting the more precise moves for functionality can be mind-bending to say the least.
With the prospect of some serious bunkai training on the horizon, I feel myself slowing my katas down slightly as I actually visualize someone standing on the receiving end of my blocks, kicks and punches. What exactly should I use that shuto for? A block? A strike? Both? Is my gedan blocking a kick or punch? Is it even a block? I probably should have been incorporating this into my training all along.
Two of my problem areas are being creative (coming up with unique bunkai moves) and remembering things (retaining said bunkai moves in my memory for longer than 10 minutes). I have had some challenges in the past, but to come up with my own individual bunkai for six kata is going to be the biggest challenge of my karate experience to date.