Rather than being 'helpful' partners, in the Honbu dojo, applications are practiced more realistically – your partner won't move or be taken down easily and you want to make sure you're blocking properly because they really will hit you otherwise! When I first started training this way I was almost a little affronted by how uncooperative everyone seemed to be. Part of me felt like saying... "no.. but you're meant to move this way...". The irony of this is Bunkai are self-defense techniques and honestly, who's going to be less 'cooperative' than the person trying to attack you.
It’s funny how we often think we’re being nice when we make it easy for our partners to carry out their applications - aiming punches and kicks to the sides of the body and falling to the ground with ease. While all this might make our partners ‘look good’, in actual fact we’re preventing them from learning how to do the applications effectively. Instead, we’re teaching bad habits and helping them pattern in techniques that only work with other ‘helpful’ and ‘cooperative’ partners.
Such half-baked techniques would probably be quite dangerous if someone tried to use them for self-defense. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between making it virtually impossible for your partner to deliver a technique (especially when you know what’s coming) and delivering strong, straight, realistic strikes with intent. In any case, if you find yourself doing applications in training, go ahead a really try and hit your partner. They'll get the message. And at the very least, they’ll probably try and hit you back, which is just what you need for some realistic bunkai training!