dandjurdjevic wrote:Personally I quite like Taira's renzoku bunkai.
The only criticism I have is that his partner's responses are fairly minimal (both because Taira is not actually landing blows, meaning his opponent isn't moving away and, more importantly, because his partner isn't really resisting/blocking or countering any of the attacks).
This seems to me a common trend in renzoku bunkai design and crops up also in the "Grease lightning" thread: drills designed for a continuous "rain" of blows are quite impressive and arguably useful, but are necessarily limited in that usefulness.
In terms of drills for striking I prefer to see combinations of 1 or 2 (at the most 3) quick attacks, all of which are dealt with/blocked/evaded/intercepted. In this way both sides actually learn to handle responses as well as "dish out"...
I've been on the receiving end of his practice and believe me, you try to resist and move away. The reason you don't see much response is because his movement is designed to maintain initiative and keep you on the defensive. He doesn't land blows because you (hopefully) know the pattern well enough to block everthing, but with less experienced uke, you will find that the pattern doesn't finish beacuse blows
are landed - once blows are landed it comes to a close very quickly as it should. For example, if you were to see him try the pattern on me (even as someone who kind of knows it) you wouldn't see it in its entirety. Why not? Simply because I couldn't keep up with the defense and the fight would end in the first couple of moves. However, the established pattern would let him press the advantage and keep initiative until that happened. This is VERY relevent against an untrained attacker as karate is designed for.
Another thing you don't see on the video is how the opponent's subtle reactions play into the execution. For example, if you pull, the kata may go one way and if you push it goes another. In fact the differences is geki-sai ichi and ni are primarily due to the way your opponent handles the two moments when you are somewhat vulnerable as you sweep on one foot. If they allow you to pull at these points, geki-sai ichi teaches you what to do and if they resist, geki-sai ni explains what's next. This is why the two variations in the kata occur after the vulnerable kata points. But on a video, you wouldn't see this resistance from the uke - it is too subtle.
The intent of his method isn't to go through the whole pattern until the last move finishes off the opponent. The reality is that every technique should end the fight and that, at worst, a single combination from the pattern will end it. However, by practicing the patterns in their entirety, you learn to connect techniques and limit responses to them so that in reality you are ready for different response situations that you lead your opponent to. You also learn relevence in the kata by seeing how it all fits together.
One of the amazing things about his bunkai is the manner in which he eliminates your options for response. He leads you into predictable options (usually only one) and then takes advantage of them. It is not a back-and-forth thing that requires you to keep up with random attacks (an impossibility at reality-based close range), etc. but a pressing attack with little option to turn the fight around. And many of his strikes double as blocks, so that if your opponent happens to get a counter off, your strike intercepts it on its way in, becoming a block - often the only difference between a block and a strike in application is who gets there first. Best of all, it comes directly from the kata. Back and forth doesn't work in a real fight - you need to establish initiative, remove options for responses and push to finish. This is what his bunkai does.
I can't compare his method to chinese practice because I haven't trained in them, but his method is very valid to me as someone who has felt it and tried to keep up with it. Interestingly, I remember a time when he was in hospital in the early nineties for a knee injury and we brought him some chinese MA training and demonstration videos to watch. He enjoyed them and talked to us about how chinese martial arts directly influenced his thinking. But he will always state strongly that what he does is well within the principles of goju-ryu - in fact it is a direct validation of the kata and practice methods of goju.