Russ Martin, 5th Dan TKD is recognised within the Taekwondo Association of Great Britain as an expert on applied Taekwondo (the practical application of the basics and patterns). He should really be known further afield as he has a very extensive knowledge.
To better understand his own art he decided to study Shito Ryu Karate as well and has attained his black belt in that too. He has also attended seminars with many of the great names in applied pattern/kata bunkai.
In the videos below he demonstrates applications to a number of basic blocks and pattern movements, most of which will be very readily recognised by most Karateka as well.
The kata’s (patterns/forms) within a traditional style often have different salutations and ready positions. This would indicate that they have different meanings, beyond being just a salutation. Think about it, if they were no more than just a salutation, why would they not be standardised. Why would any style need more than one salutation which it would use on all of its kata’s/patterns/forms.
Logic would suggest that these salutations/ready positions are moves that could stop an opponent early in the proceedings, before a full blown fight breaks out. If that does not work, then its into the kata to use techniques that will deal with a full blown fight.
The most common salutation or ready position in Karate is the “Yoi”. The performance of the Yoi may vary from style to style, but generally the arms come up to head height (sometimes higher) then circle inwards and downwards, crossing over your center line, then back outwards, before settling just about hip height at about a torso width apart.
Here’s our interpretation of how to use the humble Yoi against somebody who is acting aggressively, to turn the tables on them and put them in a position of disadvantage which you can exploit as you see fit.
Please tell us what you think. Is your Yoi or salutation very much different? Do you see the Yoi as being no more than a salutation with no practical function, or do you see it as a functional movement as we do? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comment box below.
Note: The block called Soto Uke in some styles is called Uchi Uke (inside block) in other styles.
Bearing in mind that much of Karate’s original bunkai has been lost, and that Karate is largely based on Kung Fu, it is good to look at similar Kung Fu movements and how Kung Fu practitioners apply them. By looking into our roots we can learn more about our own style and read across from what the Okinawan masters probably learnt from the Chinese masters. The Okinawan masters would have adapted the movements to suit their own physiques and needs, which is fine as the Chinese masters did exactly the same. That is why there is such a vast array of Kung Fu styles.
When a beginner looks at different styles of Kung Fu, Karate, TKD etc., they see lots of differences. However, the experienced practitioner sees many similarities. This why we are able to learn from each other, to increase our knowledge and understanding of our own style, without necessarily having to study other styles in depth.