BUNKAI BALLAD – The crane who Smashes and Tears Calmly in the Storm.

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One of the things I was most apprehensive about before my grading on the weekend was the bunkai component. I had 4 kata to learn, 3 to perform: Saifa, Hakkucho, and Seiunchin, and had officially learned full sets of bunkai for 2 of them. I am pretty sure I have seen bunkai for the third at one stage too, and had learned bunkai at camp for the one I wasn’t performing, and I may have even been able to remember, if push came to shove,(well more likely grab but you know what I mean!!).

You would think that all that would have made me feel very prepared, and quite confident about it all, but no, instead I felt a bit overwhelmed and out of control. I practiced whenever I could find a willing and resisting opponent (for some reason it was harder than it should have been to find someone to grab or hit me, especially given the company I keep!!), but still, had no idea what I would be tested on.

The night before my test, having been preocupied for days and in my dreams with bunkai possibilities, I made a decision: it would be what it would be and there was nothing I could do except roll with it……Probably just as well…..the bunkai I was asked were not ones I particularly had practised intensively, or had even remembered well. I got past it though and instead of freezing like I had thought I might, I was able to at least describe what the bunkai was, by looking at it and thinking it through in the cases where my memory needed help. I may have needed some pointers and encouragement to make it more realistic and practical, but at least I managed to laugh and not cry about it. And let’s face facts: it was pretty funny being told repeatedly to hit my Senpai in the groin and pinch his inner thigh harder to get him to be more “compliant” as my tori (attacker).

I do promise to write something more deep and meaningful about my experiences over the last week or two. I also promise to reflect on being on both sides of the panel table, scrutinising others, and being scrutinised myself. I promise to tell you  all how it feels to be the other side of this experience, and to be (figuratively speaking) the first in the kyu (sic), standing on the last rung of the ladder leading to the launch pad so to speak. But in the mean time there is this:

 

Bunkai Ballad – The Crane who Smashes and Tears Calmly in the Storm.

Cranes are quite graceful but deceivingly vicious.

Hakkucho looks birdlike but the bunkai means business!

I’ll escape from your hold, head you off at the pass.

Hit your face, grab your groin and land you on your……..

 

Ask me about Saifa, it means “smash and tear”.

I’ll escape, and I’ll scrape and I’ll pull out your hair.

I’ll push you away and make you lose your hearing.

At the end of the day, it’s me you’ll be fearing.

 

Pulling in battle, can help me break free,

Seiunchin has storm within calm, you will see.

Move in to move out, move around, get them down,

Once they’re on your level, take them out and to ground.

The Week That Was. Part 2. The Australian Traditional Karate Championships (Saturday 8th April 2017)

A week ago, today, I participated in the Australian Traditional Karate Championships. This is the 4th event of its type to be hosted in my home town and also the fourth time I have competed. You can read about my past experiences on the blog if you search tournament.

I entered all the events I was eligible (disappointed that flag kumite is still restricted to under 9’s) and also tried to help out as much as I could before / after and during the event. It was a tiring but completely amazing day and the event committee did such a meticulous job organising everything that it all ran very efficiently, especially considering the event has grown considerably over the last 4 years and is now probably 60 percent stronger in competitor numbers than in its first year! This year there were over 80 competitors, ranging in age from 4 to over 50 and a decision was made to run the events simultaneously on 2 rings for much of the day.

Highlights for me were:

  1. Observing my dojo (who again turned out in force), whether watching, competing, judging, officialling, helping (or a combination of some or all of the above) exhibiting superb sportspersonship, competitive spirit, pride in our style, and offering support, not only to each other, but also to other competitors both in and outside the network.
  2. Being able to help out (as mentioned), as this gave me insight into just how much goes on behind the scenes to organise something like this.
  3. Being able to honestly say at the end of the day: “I have done my best in everything today”.
  4. Executing a convincing and well synchronised team kata with my 2 team mates and taking out first place in a strongly contested open division event (i.e. both adult kyu and dan ranks).
  5. Getting waza ari (half point) in my kumite round against a shodan competitor and not losing without putting up a decent fight. This was especially poignant, given that I had been considering withdrawing from the event up until 2 days before.
  6. Getting very positive and constructive feedback from many people about my kata execution (individual and team events), including some from sources I did not expect to notice or comment.
  7. Seeing how proud and happy our instructor looked all through the day. I know why he did.

I will finish (as I am wont to do) with some poetry!

True Champions of the Championships.

Champions come in all shapes and sizes,

Many forms, and multiple guises.

Some are overt; some wear disguises.

Some you expect, and some are surprises.

So look all around and open your eyes.

It is not just about who wins the prize.