View Full Version : non bouncy kumite...

4th April 2016, 20:14
Hi all,

i'm seeking advice. If you've read any of my other posts you'd know I study (among other styles) Shotokan. I'm merely a Kyu grade and very early on my learning curve, I began training as a child but when we moved I stopped and trained in other styles off and on over the years as I moved about with life and work.

I came back to Shotokan a little over a year ago and have recently earned my purple belt. With having some experience in other styles I find I do enjoy Kumite, don't get me wrong here I thoroughly enjoy getting something technically correct and there's nothing quite like the crack your Gi gives as a reward for correct execution but I love the opportunity to put these techniques into action and try them out under pressure.

This leads me to my question regarding "sport karate". Locally there are many tournaments, competitions and other ways to show off. I attended one myself, leaving feeling generally miffed at the allowed techniques and seemingly finding that kumite has become little more than a game of tag.

Once i'd gotten home I thought I'd look into Kumite a little more and the majority of what I found was little more than bouncy tag. Now i've looked at JKA kumite and this differs greatly from this apparent norm, there's contact - controlled - but still contact and seemingly an emphasis on technique

So what happened to the rest of us? I fully respect my Sensei and he has a vast amount to teach and I a vast amount to learn but if one cannot use the techniques in reality then surely there is a broken link in the chain. I'm now at a point of not really knowing what to do. at 31 I have no aspirations to become a world champion in Kumite, but I want to have confidence in my art and confidence in my ability.

Now, I am very aware that i've not been practising long but other than my sensei (and sempei who is leaving in a few months - he whom I have had private lessons with since white belt) I don't see anyone else in the class that I can honestly say "wow there's a goal to seek" and looking outside the club into the wider karate world all I see is bouncing around shouting as loud as possible after making a little bit of contact.

With my Judo training, the goal is simple, beat your opponent seeking ideally an ippon. The more I train the more ways I learn to do this, and I gain more confidence in my abilities - to the point I actually find myself imagining scenarios in life whereby I mentally use those techniques as a self defence response. This sure should be the goal for my shotokan training too - my response should not be bounch bounce shout shout...

So. Is there an association of Shotokan that does instill this matra? am I thinking about it the wrong way?

just to confirm, I love Kata, love the Kihon, it's really just the Kumite that I'm not really enjoying, it's the kumite that I find myself wanting more. I have trained with people who generally state beforehand that they do not wish to be hit, this is fine with me, I pull my punches and aim to hit short but I'd still like them to attack me, give me the opportunity to block or move.

I guess my main question is am I searching for more than Karate has to offer? or do I just need to give it time and it will start to make sense to my inexperienced mind?

5th April 2016, 14:04
If the match is stopped in order to call points then it sucks no matter how hard or light the contact. In a fight you will most likely get hit. Randori/Kumite in our Goju Ryu dojo is continous. It is common for me to do my best to protect vital contact area and eat a punch to put myself in a position to whomp someone. Eat the punch in a tournament the match is stopped and the other guy gets the point. When in a fight it may have been what put you in position to defeat your opponent. It is more difficult to hurt someone than a lot of Karate people think. It is to the point some Karate-ka got dillusional thinking some flippy little kick to the knee could break a leg.

Whether Karate has something to offer you depends on the dojo and you. Budo is a set of disciplines. It is a means to an end. That end is in the heart of the practitioner.

You learn to fight by fighting. There is more Karate allowed in MMA than any Karate tournament. I did some MMA to test my Judo and BJJ when I was in my 40s. MMA wears you out. It is exhausting. I can grapple and maintain my endurance by grappling for position and controlling the pace of the match. I can play a striking match and keep my wind. You mix the two and you are combining both aerobic and anaerobic activitives. It is physically tough. I also learned pretty quick my guard game went to crap when people were allowed to punch me in the face. :laugh:

You want to learn to fight you may have better luck today in a MMA gym. 40 years ago Karate dojo used to be sort of a scary place. Not anymore. It isn't Karate's fault. Karate is fine. It is the pussification of Western men. Lawyers and the evolution of dojo into social clubs has changed Karate. A good MMA teaching gym is not bloodsport. They train smart. They use control also and use various pieces of protective gear depending on the drills and training. If I was 17 years old I would be doing MMA. That is where the action is. Same reason I started Karate when I did. That was where the action was in 1974.

5th April 2016, 14:23
that's a huge shame. MMA locally is populated by a collective IQ of single digits, I'm very much interested in the art, but mainly to give myself the confidence of being able to handle a situation. I don't really want to actually go out and test that confidence though it's more an underlying feeling of self that i'm searching for.

I agree, the tournament scene is full of people tapping away with repetitive round kicks, ideally you'd take one to completely pile the person! not allowed in tournaments...

It is frustrating as I love martial arts and the local MMA gyms are totally bloodsport, you go for a brawl and half the practitioners are only really there to have a fight, they don't intend to learn anything new. That's not my bag.

Maybe i'm just looking for 1974 Karate :)

perhaps the goal should be to become the change I want to see - Earn my stripes and once i'm in a position to teach, create the type of Shotokan I want to see.

I had the same conversation with a senior student at my club - he's the only guy in the current class that's got that buzz about them, likes to train hard, likes to make it all work as it should - we have a great bit of kumite! but most of the people like him have indeed gone to MMA which is a shame, just means that Karate becomes a glorified babysitting service and a place for people to pretend they are something they're not.

i'll stick to it, work harder and perhaps I can convince a few of the others to pick it up a bit. I'm hitting the seminar circuit this year so hopefully I can find some other like minded people to train with

5th April 2016, 14:51
Tournaments have not really changed all that much. It is what it is. When I competed in Kumite it was WUKO rules. It made for a nice even playing field compared to other sanctioning bodies. The techniques called for a demonstration of Zanshin but it was still tag. The biggest problem with tournaments is they cause everything to look the same. They destroy the flavors of the classical styles. Goju Ryu, Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Shito Ryu etc..... they all ended up fighting the same, looking the same because they had to suceed within a common rules framework. Chinen Sensei thought tournaments were OK for kids but not his serious adult students. The problems today with tournament were the same problems you had in 1985.

I know what you mean about the mentality of some MMA gyms. The good ones train smart but some are not smart at all.

The place where your sensei needs to begin to fight the battle of stepping up is in Yakusoku Kumite / 2 man prearranged drills / waza / etc.... It should be absolute full commiment/full bore. Then reason the attacks comes from chamber out of zenkutsu dachi is so people DON'T get hit. This is a big misconception by non-karate and some karate people. Some today think that is the way karate attacks are executed. The reason for this was to create enough reaction distance so defenses could be practiced safely. In order to get students to executing techniques with commitment and intent start with Yakusoku Kumite. If taught proper tai sabki they should not end up with a broken nose as long as they aren't completely zoned out on the floor.