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Kata Combat – Bunkai Training Drills Part 1 - Stage 2

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For Stage 2, I then address three further possible instinctive reactions from my opponent.

  1. Opponent covers again and reels back
  2. Opponent drives forward in attack
  3. Opponent drops to the floor in a kneeling position

At this stage, I progress onto executing my secondary motions. In case A where my opponent covers again and reels back, I step forward and use Shuto Uke (Knife Hand Block) as my initial secondary level strike. In case B, I retreat and utilise Gedan Barai (Downward Block) again but as a control and restraint movement to enable further strikes. Case C allows me to use Hiza Geri (Knee Kick) to create a good opportunity to escape.

Now Consider case A in more detail.

As my opponent retreats, his seized arm is brought up again to cover his head. I keep the connection between us by extending my seizing arm and step towards him, using the same arm to execute Shuto Uke (Knife Hand Block) to strike to the side of his neck/jaw.

As I advance, I use my free rear hand to slap his seized hand from my grasp, clearing a path again for the secondary strike. It is important to note that the range at which I strike is closer than previously, as now my forearm is making contact with my opponent. Being this close it is imperative that I maintain control over my opponent’s cleared arm as at this range, the fight is liable to degrade to a grappling affair. Pinning his arm across his torso hinders his ability to secure a close grip. This positioning also renders it difficult for my opponent to execute a troubling strike with his rear hand. For simplicity, no further strikes are shown in this particular drill, but it must be acknowledged that a reasonable escape opportunity must be created through further exploitation of the advantage gained so far.

In case B above where my opponent drives towards me, I harness his momentum and retreat again, whilst keeping the connection between us. I pull and twist his seized arm towards my rear hip - in the standard hikite motion. In order to ensure that I maintain the required distance from my opponent and to avoid grappling, I allow the arm that I have seized to act as an indicator of my opponent’s motion. I should feel the distance between us rapidly diminish and this triggers me to retreat. Gedan Barai (Downward Block) is employed with my free hand as a lock and to control his seized arm. Pivoting around in an arc on his blind side protects me from being overpowered by his initiated advance.

Again, for simplicity, no further strikes are shown in this particular drill, but it must be acknowledged that a reasonable escape opportunity must be created through further exploitation of the advantage I’ve gained so far.

Case C above is the most optimal outcome for me as it presents me with the greatest advantage over my opponent to escape. My opponent, being in the kneeling position whilst I stand over them, has only a limited ability to redress the imbalance. However, it is vital that I still execute a secondary strike. By using my seizing hand, I can release the grip and instead secure it firmly on the back my opponent’s head. Pushing firmly downwards limits my opponent’s ability to stand back up, and provides a reference point for my secondary level strike – the knee kick. As in all kicks, it is vital that I remain in control of my body during the kick and do not become light on my support leg. I, therefore, keep the kick at a sensible height i.e. at waist level. My weight is driven into the kick and my kicking leg is grounded straight after contact.

Again, for simplicity, no further strikes are shown in this particular drill, but it must be acknowledged that a reasonable escape opportunity must be created through further exploitation of the advantage gained so far.

Stage 3 of the drill is to perform it with total variability. My opponent dictates when to ‘cover’ after my initial strike, and when they do move again, they choose which of the three instinctive responses to emulate. The key to this stage of the drill is for my opponent to be unpredictable and not to give away which of the three cases to present me. This can be achieved by not only varying the actual case but also to vary the gap between finishing the strikes and reverting to the ‘start’ again.

My opponent can test the practicality of my stripping of their arm by varying the strength at which it is kept in place, and can test that my bodyweight shifting is kept strong and does not impede my follow up strike. Although the focus pad is used so that the initial strike can be fired with full impact, there is value in executing a controlled version of the above scenarios without the use of a focus pad. It allows me to see and feel my initial strike landing (or not as the case may be) on the desired target.

An important note regarding Bunkai training drills is that they should be focussed and that they apply sound combat principles extracted from Kata. The premise is that the combative skill is acquired through executing the drill. The drills must also be kept simple and be scalable. Simplicity allows us to focus on the key principles and scalability allows us to extend these concepts in appreciation of just how chaotic combat is. Taking a stepwise approach to the drill and applying progression ensures that we are better equipped to deal with the chaos of combat. The ultimate manner in which to run a drill is where it best emulates reality whilst being bound by adequate control and safety. The drills have to be run live in order to satisfy these criteria and thus reap the associated benefits.

It is also important to establish what your own offensive primary striking motions and techniques are. Through hard training in these motions, a solid foundation from which to build is laid and forms the basis of drills. The main focus of this drill was to integrate Kata motions as secondary level techniques into these already established primary level motions. In each of the three instinctive response cases, my chosen secondary level attacks are taken from kata, are not fixed, are consistently applied and are fit for purpose.

These techniques and concepts are all derived from the Kata Enpi (Wanshu). A full eBook break down of this Kata is currently in development and will be available for download on www.Rakesh-Patel.com

I hope this article serves a good starting point to incorporate, or better utilise, the techniques found in Kata into your Bunkai training drills. I encourage you to devise drills based around sequences and techniques found in kata, and integrate these as supporting techniques to your primary striking motions.

That concludes the first article in the Kata Combat – Bunkai Training Drills series. Further articles in this series will be available to download on www.Rakesh-Patel.com and will be communicated in the Newsletters.



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Tuesday, 04 October 2022

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