I think even more than people being loyal to Coke or Pepsi, you won’t find a group of people more loyal to a brand than those loyal to Apple. So entrenched in popular culture have some of their products become that the iPod has usurped the term for all .mp3 players. Chances are you own a genuine Apple iPod, so strongly has it dominated market share. Mac users are so loyal, they gladly pay hundrs more to buy the latest MacBook. Yesterday, they announced the new iPhone 4 which is going to do everything except actually cook you dinner (although it can tell you how to cook it or where to go and find it). Needless to say, I’m hooked and will probably be upgrading from my 3G to the 4 as soon as they come out.
The commercials for the iPhone are fantastic. They demonstrate all of the benefits to owning an iPhone, summarizing it all in the line, “there’s an app for that.” This of course, refers to all the thousands of applications that help get life’s daily tasks accomplished or just waste some time. I was watching TV the other night, after a long day of teaching new forms to all of our students when yet another iPhone commercial came on and the phrase got me thinking. The moves that our students perform in their patterns are often complicated an very much rooted in our traditional origins of our martial art. However, the key for each student succeeding in reaching his or her goals is that for each technique, be it a block, strike, or kick, there’s an app for that. Reality-based self-defense application that is.
In Japanese martial arts they call this process of understanding the purpose behind a technique – bunkai. The underlying principle is that students are charged with learning the how’s, when’s and why’s of a technique not just learning the move like some sort of martial dance routine. In olden times, at many dojos, it was often taboo for students to discuss the bunkai of a move for fear that the knowledge would fall into the wrong hands. This led to a belief in “secret bunkai” or secret applications of a move that harnessed some hidden power or meta-physical result that was super human. Do those applications and hidden moves exist? Maybe. I have seen some pretty superhuman stuff in the 22 years I’ve been training in the martial arts. That’s part of the fun of learning martial arts, to push the limits of our human potential. It all starts with learning, perfecting, and understanding the technique.
When I was but a young boy as a green belt, I would have trouble with my forms, putting the techniques in the right places and looking back, pretty sloppy. That all changed for me one day in front of the Barnes & Noble in Tallahassee. While waiting for my mom to come out, my Dad went through the moves of the 1st green belt form with me, showing me how each move applied to self-defense. From then on, I really haven’t had trouble learning or performing forms the correct way because I understood what each move was trying to accomplish.
When it comes to the techniques of the martial arts, yeah there’s an app for that.