Bunkai, or the analysis of application, is a very difficult thing to grasp at the very beginning. It takes time to get your head around it. I remember learning and it took me several interstate trips to seminars to really grasp what was going on but once I got the idea, I was off and running. I am now able to see so much more in the art of Kyokushin Karate. It's so much more than stand up fighting and performing basic technique and formalised patterns to get to the next grade.
Hidden inside kihon ( basic technique ) and kata ( formalised patterns ) is a plethora of knowledge that is only just starting to be explored in great detail by many Kyokushin dojo. We tend to only focus on the kumite ( fighting ) and fail to remember there is so much more to our beautiful art than just toe to toe stand up fighting. In fact, we are also a grappling art because that's what bunkai really is. It's close quarter grappling and let me tell you from experience, some of it at the very least can also be used on the ground. How do I know this? Well I have used it on the ground myself in real life situations and was surprised at how effective it was, particulary against bigger opponents. More on that in another blog post.
This brings me to form. There are a number of reasons why we practice kihon in the dojo. Form, control, muscle memory, focus, accuracy and more. We learn how to control the technique we are executing rather than letting the body do what it wants. That is why we have a start and finish point. Where does the technique start and where does it finish. It's not good enough to say "somewhere here or somewhere there". A good instructor knows exactly where the start and finish points are and why. When you understand where and why, you can better develop your control and conscious control of your technique is what you need when you're training with a partner. If you don't have that, you're a danger to yourself and everyone around you. When practicing kihon, it's your job to make sure that each technique is performed better than the last, always seeking perfection knowing that the irony is, you'll never achieve it. When you're able to perform a technique without thinking about how to do it, you can incorporate speed and there's the problem. You have a constant battle of speed and form, more so at the beginning of your journey than at black belt and beyond. Speed can make your technique sloppy where as performing it slowly all the time doesn't help. You plateau.
Application is something different. You should by now have a better understanding of how to execute your basic technique with conscious control so now you add speed and a real person ( training partner ) as your opponent, not a mirror. You practice with different members of your dojo and you now start working on timing and distance. Add an element of controlled aggression in a learning environment and you now include the heat of the moment. Heart rate can be elevated, your Sensei, senior grades and dojo buddies are watching and you're nervous. You learn how to react under pressure and the more you do that, the more competent you will be. While practicing bunkai you may gain a better understanding of how certain muscle groups work and how they engage and you will also improve overall strength and conditioning. You will get a full body workout and your overall health and fitness will improve and the best part is, you'll build confidence and self esteem because you're doing things worthy of esteem.
You're learning to do something extremely difficult, well.