Translates as "analysis" or "interpretation". It is a Japanese term in Martial Arts that describes the analysis of Kata as well as understanding fighting techniques from the movements that Kata.
It has also long been a held tradition, that there are multiple levels of Bunkai for the various levels of practitioners in a style. Originally the upper levels were slowly opened to longer term students, to protect the style from being copied and claimed by another. It was a long process of building trust that the “Student” would need to forge to gain that trust.
3 Levels of Bunkai
- Omote - literal (singular actions such as a block, punch or kick)
- Honto - practical (applied combinations of literal actions as well as other options such as a punching or blocking action being used as a strangulation)
- Ura - hidden (or secret understanding of how to use the literal tool to target a vital anatomical structure to impede or cessate the normal body life functions - Kyusho).
Kyusho Integration (Ura training)
At this level the focus (Kime), was on the actual intent of a Kata and therefore it’s family style. These secrets were derived from the head Masters life research, training and dedication, seeking the ultimate method to access an opponents weaknesses.
As one advances in Kyusho, the three types of Bunkai merge into one. As example; when focusing on the weaker anatomical target of the opponent, the actual method (perhaps in different use; ie. the grasping action of a fist as opposed to a striking action of that fist), is revealed to the Kyusho-Ka. These are the less obvious or taught methods but are the most powerful, practical and efficient method for actual fighting as opposed to sparring or sport.
Consequently, Kyusho in itself has 3 levels of Bunkai, the first being the superficial somatic affect (Atemi, Kupso, Gunting, Pressure Points, etc.). The secondary level achieves autonomic affects that will self correct (KO, incapacitation, paralysis). The third and most powerful level is that of life cessation... or permanent unrecoverable damage or dysfunction.
Kyusho is the Secret
Kyusho is the secret that all Martial Artists seek. Gleaned from stories and myths, the actual skill and possibility exists, but is elusive due to the absolute dedication and focus (Kime), required to enact it.
It is also this same focus, dedication and absolute drive for it that prevent most from realizing it. When one doubts its reality (ignoring the ancient documentation of founding Masters), they also in turn doubt the style, its founder, their documentation and life long dedication and commitment. In short, they turn from the truth and therefore never find it.