Black Belt Magazine

THE SAI

THERE HAS BEEN A SEA CHANGE IN THINKING AMONG PRACTITIONERS OF THE TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS IN THE PAST 30 YEARS. Previously, students faithfully accepted what they were told and furiously practiced those methods — which might be of questionable utility based on the interpretations commonly assigned to the movements within the kata. Then Taika Oyata showed that the common interpretations were not at all what kata were supposed to be about.

Oyata’s teachings made only modest inroads into the martial arts community until Black Belt Hall of Famer George Dillman began training with him. Dillman took what Oyata taught and pushed it out to the world. The result: Teachers everywhere are now exploring realistic and practical uses for kata movements. (Such interpretation of kata movement is commonly referred to as bunkai‚ which means “analysis‚” or less frequently as oyo‚ which means “application.”)

But while the traditional empty-hand forms of the martial arts increasingly have been the subject of careful and thoughtful reassessment, the same has not been true of the kata of karate weapons, or In this area of practice, students and teachers continue the “traditional” practice of clacking weapons

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