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Karate Science: A Critical Commentary about this Subculture

The picture shows a karateka and several equations. It represents Karate Science.

Karate science has become very popular in recent years. However, Jonas Correia criticizes that too many karateka focus to much on theorizing instead on training. The consequence is a constant decrease of fighting power of the Shotokan karate community.

Some weeks ago, I came across a post where someone argued the difference between kime and force when applying a certain technique to break a board. The argument in question was illustrated with the image of the profile of a board, with imaginary lines simulating the direction from which the force would come and where it would end. Beside that the picture also showed a variant of the equation that represented the antithesis.

Along with all this, the picture comprised numbers and letters , which if you were not a good student of physics classes in high school, you will never decipher. After I saw the post I had to read the comments and saw that there were some supporters of this analysis. The showed that they had also been good physics students in high school, they counter-argued that theory.  Those, who came to debate the final result based on calculations and equations, I call “Scientists of Karate”. They belong to the subculture of “Karate Science”.

Karate Science and its Origin

Every self-respecting Shotokan karateka has studied Nakayama’s books. They show scientific explanations about the human body by applying human bio-mechanics. The books analyze the relationships between bio-mechanics and karate. They are the foundation of Karate Science. This approach should guarantee the technical excellence of an art that is constantly evolving.

However, not everyone is a scientist or interested in evaluating complex calculations to reach a conclusion with no direct practical value. Some of these theories are interesting. But they do not have the power to change the training routine of a Karate community.

What causes the existence of Karate Science?

In harsher words, I regret to inform you that our habit in claiming theories around our art, has created a generation of “karate scientists” and this is even regrettable. The reason for this is due to the fact that we are always in constant competition with those who have become more learned, who read the most books. But this competition is a false hunt for more efficiency and effectiveness. It tries to legitimize fighting power of Shotokan karate in regard to other martial arts. Or karateka seek to show that their way of doing Oi-zuki this or that way is better. And some only want to show off.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a book writer and I constantly research. But I leave the study of these theories with the head instructors of the organization I belong to. My role is limited only to train, train and train.

The Negative Effects of Karate Science

However, we do not need to make Shotokan better at its boundaries. We do not need better theory. The theory is already highly developed. For the most karateka the complexity of the theories is already to high. They need handy concepts instead.

Most of the Karate Science proponents I have seen, have had a weak training routine compared to those who care little. I believe that this is the biggest reason that the Karate community may have weakened in numbers and in technical quality.

  • The picture shows Jonas Correia training in the JKA HQ. Jonas criticizes Karate Science subculture.
  • The picture shows Jonas Correia at a tournament. Jonas criticizes Karate Science subculture.
  • The picture shows Jonas Correia at a tournament. Jonas criticizes Karate Science subculture.

A good part of the practitioners theorize too much and practice less. Some have gained fame and prestige within the Karate community (mostly online), for the simple fact of knowing how to argue in an expert tone. Many of these have never even stepped on a koto in their life, or had any experience with a real fight. But they claim to have the knowledge of the most efficient way to land a punch. His followers are quick to call him a sage, a master, Shihan, or worst, Hanshi!

The Path of Pragmatism

A football player trains enough to dribble opponents and kick the ball into the post. Ready! This is enough. The player does not waste his time studying the weight of the ball in relation to the direction and strength of the wind influencing where the ball will land. Coaches and sports scientist might do that. The player, however, sees the ball and kicks it forward. Isn’t that his goal? The soccer player trains extensively, so that any influence of the wind or weight of the ball becomes an insignificant factor.

This same analysis can be used in Karate or other combat sports. You cannot theoretically prepare for keiko. Nor can you substitute vigorous and rigorous training with reading books to become able to defend yourself against one or more opponents. Of course, some theories might be better on scratch. However, one has to execute them. Therefore, serious Shotokan follows a simple rule: Pragmatism first, theory second! The truth is that no one will give you a PhD in Karate theory, so don’t break your head to long – go train!


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by external authors are solely their current opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Shotokan Times and their respective editorial staff and management. The external authors opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither The Shotokan Times nor its affiliates warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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WUKF Professional: A New Karate League to Counter the Olympics

The WUKF has started its new professional karate league called WUKF Professional. While the focus lies on making points, fighters are allowed to knock out their opponent. Hence, the fighters go full contact. The WUKF, therefore, offers a third way between the WKF-based Olympic Sports karate and Karate Combat.

According to its president, Pawel Bombolewski, WUKF Pro seeks to make karate respectable again as an efficient martial art. Thus, the league also includes Kata as a discipline. We wanted to know more about WUKF Professional. Therefore, our distinguished author, Jonas Correia, interviewed Pawel Bombolewski about his career as a competitor, why he created WUKF Professional and what we can expect from the format in the future.

1 – Oss, Sensei Pawel Bombolewski! It is a great pleasure to interview you about your karate career and WUKF Professional Karate. Sensei, why and when did you start practicing Karate?

Pawel Bombolewski (PB) – Oss, it is a pleasure for me, too. I started Karate when I was 7. I was very inspired – like many people at that time – by martial art movies. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme were my idols and first heroes. However the biggest influence on the beginning of my Karate-Do was my first Sensei Paweł Golema 7th Dan. He was and still is a big businessman in Szczecin. I always admired his remarkable way of applying Karate principles in life, especially in business. You need to wok hard, not giving up, being reliable, not afraid to taking risks etc. I think he had a big impact on me. I am very grateful to him for bringing my mind to the state where it is today. 

Pawel Bombolewski´s best Shobu Ippon fights

2- How has your training routine been lately?

PB – I use to conduct classes almost every day, from Monday to Saturday. The last class of the day was usually a advance group or squad training, where I train with my students. From training 6 days a week, half was orientated on traditional, budo Karate training and other half on Sports Karate. However, even in the sports classes we still started with mokuso and finished it with the Dojo Kun. I think we all need to remember what is most important in Karate. For me it is self development. In my opinion following budo principles is like using great tools to develop yourself. 

3 – You have been Shobu ippon WUKF World Champion several times. You teach Karate. You organize tournaments regularly, including the 2020 WUKF World Championship, which you organize for the 2nd time. And you are also responsible for WUKF Professional Karate events. How do you reconcile your competitive career with all these activities?

PB – It is actually very hard, especially that I divide my time between 5 governing bodies. I am lucky enough to lead the EUKF as Vice-President, WUKF Professional as President as well as UWK Poland, BKA Poland and BKA Sri Lanka. To be an athlete in addition to this becomes very difficult and requires a wise plan of training. The biggest issue is having no time for recovering. As a result that means a high chance to get injured. So I have to train physical strong only when I know I will be able to recover afterwards.

Pawel competing in Shobu Ippon Division on WUKF World Karate Championships
Pawel competing in Shobu Ippon Division on WUKF World Karate Championships

This was one of the reasons why I decided to finish my career as a competitor. I focus on working for international and national Karate organizations. Now I will have more time for my students. Competing and coaching at the same time had always been very hard to manage. My participation at the WUKF European Championships in Odense, Denmark was my last performance as a competitor. 

4 – And now you also organize WUKF Professional. How did you come up with the idea of creating this league and what is it about?

Pawel Bamboleski competing in Kata division
Pawel Bamboleski competing in Kata division

PB – I remember this day clearly. It was January 1, 2017, first day of New Year. The idea came during a flight from Qatar to Sri Lanka, where I traveled to conduct seminars. For some time, I had been thinking about some common patterns in all sports. One question, which bothered me the most, was, what can we do to beat the Olympic version of Sport (Karate)? I couldn’t find an answer until I watched the “Steve Jobs” movie on the airplane. I don’t know why and how, but after watching this movie, all the pieces fell into the place.

When I started to explore the topic, I found out that in the majority of sports in the Olympic version, even if it is highly respected, is still called “amateur”. Therefore, it holds not importance for many big sport stars in the world. They put much more effort in their professional performances and careers.

WUKF Professional promotional video

Then I asked myself another question. How should a professional Karate look like to make it respectable like in the old good times again? I decided that it must be a point system with full contact. The events have to be quite short and focused on delivering a remarkable show. A point system guarantees a style of fight approximately similar to sports Karate.

This is what we got used to in the last 30-40 years. Allowing athletes to make techniques with full contact, creates the possibility of winning by knockout. As a result it becomes much simpler and more understandable for spectators. Saying that, after 2 editions of WUKF Professional I see that we still didn’t fully achieve my aim. After every event we make changes in the rules, making it simpler and simpler. Learning is never an ending process and I’m happy that we improve every time.

See the full fight of WUKF Professional between Daniele Spremberg and Tamer Mourssy.

5 – Do you think WUKF Professional will change the history of Karate? How is to be part of this important moment?

PB – I strongly believe WUKF Professional is a turning point in the world of Karate. I feel honored and proud to be part of it. Especially that this platform really counterbalances Olympic Karate. WUKF Professional is something totally new and creates opportunity to go to another direction in sports Karate. What really amazed me in WUKF Professional is that we connected modern formula of presenting and conducting matches with the rules that were based on the old, great times. Back then Karate was truly respected by all martial art fans, because of it’s effectiveness. 

WUKF Professional 1 in February 2019 - Poland
WUKF 1 in February 2019 – Poland

6- Do you intend to fight in WUKF Professional?

PB – No! (laughs) Too many people say I would always win because I organized the rules most suitable for myself. I also think it is better if I focus on managing it, because it is a very responsible task. 

WUKF Professional 2 in November 2019, Poland
WUKF 2 in November 2019, Poland

7 – How has been the public reception regarding WUKF Professional?

PB – It was fantastic! We had over 30 000 viwers of WUKF 1 in social media channels and a majority of positive feedback. People praised the high quality of streaming (7 cameras, video review system) and the quality of our promotional videos. In WUKF Professional we are using 2 Polish companies: See TV and MA Vision. They are absolute amazing in what they do. The level of streaming is so good.

Soon we will start cooperating with a big TV channel, fully dedicated to martial arts. I’m sure that will also have great impact on WUKF Professional development. Every day, we have a lot of new people, who visit our websites karateprofessional.com and professional.wukf-karate.org. In addition, our social media channels have more and more followers every day. This is making me happy to see the fruits of our hard work.

The figthers at the WUKF professional aim for the KO.
The figthers at the WUKF professional aim for the KO.

8- I attended the first WUKF Professional event in Szczecin, Poland. I was impressed with the organization. Are you responsible for all the details, or is there a team in charge of that? What is your role within WUKF Professional today?

PB – Our team takes the responsibility for organizing events. I am the head of this group. That means to make plans and motivate them to work hard for the success of the event. In 2014 we organized WUKF World Championships in Poland. At that time, it was the biggest and the best WUKF event. On the Opening Ceremony we had opportunity to host the living legend, former President of Poland, and Nobel laureate Mr. Lech Wałęsa.

That event was such a success that after 6 years the WUKF Executive Committee decided to grand us the right to organize the WUKF World Championships 2020. Szczecin is therefore the only City in the WUKF history, which will host this event for the second time. This is a big honor for us, but also a big responsibility.

The entrance of  fighters at WUKF Professional - Athlete: Danielle Spremberg from Italy
The entrance of fighters. Athlete: Danielle Spremberg from Italy

We know that people expect only the highest level of competition, including accommodation, transport and catering. We will do our best to make the best Karate in the world.

Within WUKF Professional I am responsible for the Professional Karate formula. Our Professional Karate Commission includes me as a Chairman, Sean O’Brien from Ireland, Noel Mantock from England, Rajat Chakraborty from India and Valeriy Kusiy from Ukraine. We create the rules basied on feedback from the WUKF Professional Referee Commission. We also set the policy and media direction of WUKF Professional.

While WUKF Professional also wants to deliver a good show it does it with more humility than Karate Combat.
While WUKF Professional also wants to deliver a good show it does it with more humility than Karate Combat.

9- You strive to make Karate more professional like football, basketball, and mma. You also included Kata at this level. Do Kata competitions work under the same rules as regular competition?

PB – I believe that the Kata rules we created are as simple as possible. It is a one flag system. Free choice of kata, tokui, any style you like. There are some proposals to make 2 rounds, random choice of katas etc. We consider all options, as I believe we have to be open for the feedback of people.

Kata at WUKF Professional

10 – Could you simply clarify the rules of WUKF Professional in Kumite for us?

PB – In the shortest possible way: it is a point system in a shobu ippon spirit with full contact. The duration of a match is 3 rounds with 3 minutes each. There are 3 type of points: 

  • Yuko: 1 point normal type of action, which we are used to at a amateur competitions
  • Wazaari: 5 points awarded for a knockdown
  • Ippon: 10 points awarded for knockout
  • Awasete Ippon: awarded by referee for having 10 points lead on the opponent
  • Senmonteki Ippon, which is a technical knockout, awarded for creating situations where you opponent is clearly unable to fight
WUKF Professional: The fighters know what is expecting them.
WUKF Professional: The fighters know what is expecting them.

11 – In most karate competitions, there are weight divisions. Does WUKF PRO also have weight divisions?

PB – Yes, we have weight divisions. They are divided every 5 kg: from – 60 kg to +90 kg in male category and from – 50 to +65 kg in female category.

12 – How are the athletes selected to compete and what should they do if they are interested in competing?

PB – At first, athletes need to register on our website and pay the annual license fee for the WUKF account. During registration they fill out all the information about their amateur career, add contact data about their manager if they have one, etc. When competitors have registered they must wait until selection. They can also be active and try to persuade organizers to organize a contest for them. If a competitor is famous this will be easy, proposals are coming all the time. For not so famous fighters it is important to stay active and to have a skilled manager, who can arrange fights.

13- In the first event, despite the rules allowing the knockout, I had the impression that there were still remnants of traditional arbitration in the manner in which the points were scored. Already in the second event, I realized that the referees were stricter regarding the scores. The result was more intense fights. Breaks were not as frequent as in the previous event, increasing the possibility of knockouts in the fights. Will there be any changes to the rules for the next event worth sharing with us?

PB – Yes, after WUKF 2 we worked to change the points system. We will most probably remove the Wazaari for a knockdown. So, there will be no middle way between simple point and knockout. Another proposal is to make 2 types of points: 1 point and 2 points. We also consider awarding more points for using advanced techniques or for perfectly good actions.
Coming back to WUKF 2 and WUKF 1: During the first event the referees too easily awarded fighters with Yuko. On the WUKF 2 it went the other way: the points were not given when they should, in my opinion it was too strict.

Pawel Bombolewski in action during a Shobu Ippon match.
Pawel Bombolewski in action during a Shobu Ippon match.

It is important to find a balance and to understand what we are looking for in WUKF Professional Karate. But it is a process and we all learn. Rome wasn’t build in a day. For me it is obvious that the development will take some time.

But people in WUKF know very well that I am always looking for improvement and that I’m not afraid to test new technological solutions. I just want to mention some ideas for devices I invented this year like remote controls for rotation kumite used on the WUKF World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia. I also invented a Video Review System used for the first time at the WUKF 1 in Poland.

14- We are all curious to know where and when the next event will be. Is there a date and place already established?

PB – WUKF 3 will be most probably held in Dublin on May 24, 2020. Mr. Sean O’Brien will be in charge for the event. He proved that he is a great organizer, managing a very succesfull WUKF World Championships in 2016. Now, he is looking for sponsors. After he has found them we will officially publish the poster of WUKF 3. Great news is also that we plan to conduct the first fights for a Professional World Champion title in Dublin. We are all excited to see great professional bouts in Ireland. And we are curious who will win a Champion’s belt!

WUKF PRO 1: Barry McAnulty vs David Carter

15 – Many Karate practitioners especially in Okinawa training Kata without the jacket. Does the fact that WUKF professional competitors do not wear the top of the uniform in Kumite have any special reason?

PB – It is obviously to show how muscles work. Of course we are not the pioneers here, being influenced by other sports, mostly by professional boxing.

16- What are your expectations for the future of Professional Karate?

PB – I expect that this modern formula will keep delivering to spectators a big show. It will be entertaining to watch the bouts. All kind of martial arts enthusiasts will enjoy it. I also predict that soon we will be able to pay even higher rewards to our best competitors. Also, I don’t out rule a Pay Per View option for WUKF Professional events in the future.

Full contact and knockouts are allowed at WUKF Professional.
Full contact and knockouts are allowed at WUKF Professional.

17- Sensei, thank you so much for sharing some of your time. If there is something you would like to share with us that is the right moment.

PB – I would like to invite all of you to watch the upcoming WUKF Professional gala and the biggest event in WUKF history: the 9th World Championships in Poland, July 1-5, 2020. I have to admit: organizing World Championships one month before the Olympic Games is quite a challenge. But I can assure you, you will not be disappointing. WUKF currently delivers the highest organizational level of competition and our competitors are not only great athletes. For the majority of them Karate is a way of life. This makes WUKF special. We are one big family!

Take downs are awarded with 5 points at WUKF Professional.
Take downs are awarded with 5 points at WUKF Professional.

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Is Shotokan Karate Effective? About The Effectiveness Paranoia

The picture shows children fighting is sport karate gloves. Thus, we ask the question:Is Shotokan effective?

The effectiveness of Shotokan karate as self-defense has caused plenty of discussions in the last decade. But is effectiveness even important? Are we paranoid when it come to effectiveness? By Jonas Correia

A few weeks ago arriving from Brazil, I had to go through the USA immigration. The immigration agent asked me what I was doing in Brazil. I replied that I went to compete and see my family. Asking me what I practice, I promptly answered: Karate. He asked me if I taught my students how to defend themselves from grappling and submission techniques. I said no, since most of them are children and barely learn the basics of karate. I didn’t find it necessary to teach techniques like the ones he mentioned.

He Questioned My Effectiveness

The truth is that he seemed to be a jiu-jitsu sympathizer and even questioned the effectiveness of my teaching method. Believe me, this conversation happened during my reentry in the US! I looked at his gun at the waist and said, if we are going to think about effectiveness obsessively, I should teach them how to fire too. He smiled. I mentioned that most jiu-jitsu schools only focus on competitions these days. But they also do not prepare you to face two opponents at once.

What does Effectiveness mean?

The point of this text is not to discuss the effectiveness of Jiu-jitsu or Karate. Because we can be the strongest of fighters and a simple microscopic virus can knock you down. So what is your perspective on effectiveness? How many martial arts masters have ever been shot? And how many martial arts masters have died from drug or alcohol use? How can someone who can’t beat himself get into a discussion about effectiveness? Wouldn’t being effective mean everything that makes you survive longer?

The Effectiveness Paranoia of Shotokan Karate

Whenever people ask me about the most effective martial art, I answer: the most effective is the one that makes you happy to be training. The rest is brainwashing and repetitive marketing.

Is Shotokan Karate effective?
Our authors, Jonas Correia, in Berlin. Jonas has an incredible fighting record. Fighting in shobu ippon, 8-point fights, and Karate Combat.

But the paranoia about the effectiveness of certain martial arts has grown so incalculably. As a result, even great masters get carried away with it. It is disappointing to come to a dojo and encounter the abundant collective narcissism that has become a kind of sect. We see this thinking within Karate organizations as well. Due to different founders’ perspectives, the arts constantly change and their style may be totally different in the future.

Train, Whatever Makes You Happy

The best thing to do is to humble down, and recognize the qualities and defects of the martial arts you practice. That makes it possible to turn yourself in an effective fighter. But if you do not care much about it, train whatever makes you happy.

I believe we should think less about issues like this. However, we should train to improve ourselves to become better practitioners. Nothing is perfect and totally effective. Better to learn it this way, to than become disappointed later.

The more we talk the less we train.

Oss.


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by external authors in the commentary section are solely their current opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Shotokan Times and their respective editorial staff and management. The external authors opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither The Shotokan Times nor its affiliates warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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Does Shotokan Karate Work in Full Contact Fights?

Does Shotokan karate work in full contact fights? As an experienced fighter, who also fought in Karate Combat, I will point out and enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of Shotokan karate when venturing into full contact. I begin with a list of do´s and dont´s as well as disadvantages of Shotokan for full contact fights. In the second half of the article I present its advantages and show what it distinguishes from other martial arts. By Jonas Correia

1 – In Karate the hands are always low

The explanation for this is quite obvious: karate fighters keep their hands apart because they fight at a long distance. But when a full contact martial arts fighter gets punched one time, he will not have the slightest intention of stopping advancing towards you, and that will become a big problem. He will throw not only one punch, but two, three, four and as many as it takes to knock you down. It is at this time that the hand on the face is sorely missed. The transition of a karate fighter to always protect the face is not so easy and takes time to become natural, as the lack of freedom of the arms affect our movement as karateka.

2 – To not drop and raise body level during fights

I constantly hear from my full-contact coach that my technique is very “plastered”. The truth is that karate fighters do not have the habit of constantly lowering and raising the body level as boxers do, and this becomes a problem. The importance of this skill is of utmost importance so that in addition to making it difficult for the opponent to reach the head and it also has an excellent function of confusing the opponent in relation to the attacks.

Convince yourself about Jonas Correia´s Shotokan skills.

3 – Not knowing how to get out of a clinch

The clinch is an excellent opportunity to take a breath when the fighter is already tired. But it is also often used on purpose to make use of elbow and knee techniques, or even throwing. Karate fighters turn out to be an easy victim of the clinch as the opponent continues to advance to the point where he is “clenched”. Knowing how to protect your face and getting out of a clinch is of utmost importance. However, for that you need to know how to defend and take the control of the opponents arms to take the advantageous position. The technique used for this is not so difficult, but it must be practiced constantly.

4 – Not knowing how to avoid a throw

Many old karate masters from JKA were already judo black belts before joining karate. But due to competitive rules (and other purposes of the art), there was no need (or willingness) to teach karate fighters how to fend off throwing techniques. A take-down becomes a thorn in the side of most karate fighters. ‘Sprawl’ is the most important technique for learning to defend yourself in this regard. However, there are several others that deserve attention.

5 – Not knowing how to fall

Anyone, who has been thrown awkwardly, knows exactly how possible it is to lose a fight due to the impact on the ground. Knowing how to fall is very important.

6 – Not knowing how to get up off the floor safely

You avoided the fall. It didn’t work. You managed to dampen the fall. But you couldn’t get off the ground. Here’s a defeated fighter.

There are two phases, which Karateka must learn, to get up. The first, is while your opponent is still standing. The second, takes place when your opponent is already on top of you. They are two totally different situations. But for a karate fighter the pose a single problem. Because no karate fighter wants to stay on the floor.

7 – Breath & Endurance

Forget everything you have learned in terms of technique if your breath and endurance is not good enough. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But the truth is that most fights (when the fighters are on same level) are defined by who has the strongest lung. Karate fighters can be challenged by that issue, because the breath and endurance can overcome your strategies. While we karate fighters have been too worried about a millimeter-accurate position of a particular muscle to apply a technique, the full contact fighter is training exhaustively to knock you out. Any Karate fighters wishing to enter the world of full contact fights must eliminate these excesses  and focus on breath and endurance.

Jonas Correia in his first full contact fight in the Karate Combat League.

8 – Not knowing how to move in different angles

Moving in different angles are a deficiency in Karate. Even knowing that few practitioners still practice it, we know that move in and out in straight lines for a karate fighter is much more comfortable, right? By the time a karateka enters a ring, cage or pit, he will not avoid the opponent’s attack by going always backwards. Strong angled movement training is required, especially looking for the opponent’s back.

9 – Always wanting to block opponents punches from a long distance

Do not take me wrong: I do not mean it is always a bad thing. But always blocking the punches at a distance sometimes exposes the face for a second or third attack specially after your opponent is close enough. Sometimes it is better to close a shield with the arms on the head. Then you go out looking for the opponent’s hand.

10 – Chin up

We train kihon constantly and are always reminded to maintain a straight posture, or also to keep our heads up. This becomes a big problem for karate fighters who, after taking the first punch to the chin, become bewildered and no longer know what to do. A high chin for your opponent and it will be a satisfaction for him like a toy inside a Kinder egg.

11 – Avoid to be touched at all costs

Karate fighters don’t like to be touched, because our training is aimed at not being touched at all costs, or it will result in defeat. The rules of karate were based on kendo, where anyone, who was struck by a sword, would be defeated. Although karate masters have interpreted karateka as weapons, we know that our weapons are not as lethal as the steel swords. Strong actions are needed much more than a good punch to win most of fights (specially using mma or boxing gloves).

This caprice of wanting to avoid being touched at all costs turns out to be a bigger problem. Karate fighters find it difficult to be blunt when attacking. Plus the fact that full contact fight arenas do not allow you to always run away from an attack. The best thing is to learn that you are there to fight. Sooner or later you will have take some punches!

12 – Not be able to use and defend short and circular techniques

“Where did this punch come from?” Is the first sentence that comes to mind when you took an uppercut for the first time. If we are going to count on knocking out someone with a circular punch or a straight punch, we will realize that the circular punch is the “king of knockouts”. Also, straight punches require much more technique than a circular punch.

In a street fight, how many straight punches and how many circulars are thrown? Have you ever thought about that? Why doesn’t karate emphasize circular punches if they are so effective? This topic does not lend itself to seeking this answer. But to elucidate the importance of defending and applying circular punches.

Ok, ok … I know that in Nakayama’s book there are kagi zuki, mawashi zuki etc. However, the point here is the karate fighters deficiency and not about techniques archived in a book. Besides that: mawashi zuki is very different from a hook punch.

Lyoto Machida is the most prominent Shotokan karateka in the field of full contact. In this video you can find some of his Shotokan highlights.

13 – Continuous attack

Karate athletes, when applying a well-done technique, have a habit of stopping the attack pending the judge’s decision to stop the fight and give the point. When it is different, karate fighters follow with a small combination. But in the contact fight it is quite different. Karate fighters will be frustrated after the opponent blocks the first three techniques. Then they will stop and think of a plan. But then is too late. The opponent will deliver a devastating combination of punches of different heights and shapes and will only stop when the round is over.

Now what? Is Shotokan karate useless for full contact fights?

Now, the reader must be thinking that the purpose of this article is to belittle karate. But no. On the contrary. I have explained where the frustrations of karate fighters in full contact sports come from. From here, I will continue to explain why karate is an art that promotes a major difference in full contact fights.

The first day of sparring is frustrating. In addition to the breath not letting you do your job, the battle between the conscious (what we know by the goal of full contact fights) and the unconscious (the way we have been training during the traditional karate years) is one of the big problems. Some people even think they have spent years of their lives training the wrong art. Or that karate does not give them what they need.

But after going through the frustrations mentioned above and starting to become familiar with the contact fight system, I began to use karate as my greatest advantage, and below I list the reasons:

1 – Sen-no-sen

Is there anything more frustrating for a fighter than taking an unexpected hit? Sen-No-Sen is a thorn in the side of every fighter facing a karate fighter. Sen-no-sen adapted for contact fights is a strong ally, which for non-karate practitioner turns out to be an incomprehensible and unexpected tactic.

This video analysis nicely how Lyoto Machida applies Shotokan tactics and techniques in MMA.

2- Excellence in distance & foot work

The footsteps of a contact fighter are obvious and predictable, while karateka have trained a lifelong how to confuse and hide intentions with their movements. In addition to fast and precise movement, karatekas have long-distance control, which makes the opponent have to be more active to find his space.

3 – Excellence in reading intentions

Karatekas are trained to conceal any unnecessary movement. Through this habit they give opponents no chance to read of your intentions. This training teaches karatekas also to read attack intentions or positioning. Thus, they are much more sensitive than an ordinary fighter towards this task.

4 – Excellence in feints

Rotating the hip to fake a gyaku-zuki and throwing a kizami-zuki. Raising the knee like mae geri and switching to mawashi geri. Among many other tactics, these are karate specialties.

5 – Excellence in eliminating unnecessary movements

Those, who have had the least contact with Japanese culture, can understand a little about Japanese minimalism. This applies to many of the Japanese arts and would be no different in karate.

Minimalism in techniques makes a lot of difference.

6 – Technical excellence

Although in the previous topics I have mentioned eliminating technical excesses in order to emphasize exhaustive training, I would like to clarify that there is an advantage in this regard in terms of long term technical development. The karateka, who has managed to synchronize various muscles and joints to perform a technique perfectly and is now working on exhaustive training for contact fights, has the natural advantage of leveraging a technique far more successful than a regular fighter can do. An ordinary example of this is our concern to keep the heel on the floor while kicking. Oother arts care little about it.

7 – Better balance and coordination due to Kata training

By avoiding getting into the controversy about kata’s applicability to Kumite, I can assure you that there is at least something we cannot deny. Kata offers us a great possibility of understanding certain movements that only kumite practice would not offer us. Kata arouses not only technical correction, but lower and upper limb synchronization in an absurd amount of combinations. In addition to giving a unique notion of stability and balance.

Lyoto Machida practices kata during the preparations for his next MMA fight.

8 – Higher impact concentration by technique

The concept of Ikken Hissatsu, though many people find it utopian, has given us the advantage of considering every technique as the ultimate technique. While ordinary fighters often practice techniques around exhausting repetitions, a karateka has the ability to concentrate a lot of force on one definitive technique. This becomes a big advantage when there is an opportunity.

Makiwara training enhances this.

9 – Ambidextrous Training

The first thing a common full contact fighter notices when studying his opponent is whether he is left handed or right handed. Karateka train both sides with equal intensity. Fighting comfortably on both sides becomes a big problem for ordinary fighters, and that’s a big advantage for karate fighters.

Conclusion

The truth is, karate is a very complex, long-term, lifelong art, while full contact fighting is more direct and immediate. Most MMA fighters and kickboxers, and so on retire early due to injuries. If a karate man/women uses karate intelligently, coupled with the hard and exhaustive training of full contact fighting, he will become a fighter with great potential.

Remember that Lyoto Machida had a record of sixteen unbeaten fights for using many of the advantages of karate. He only came to know his first defeat after facing Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who had to train a little karate to better understand the Machida game.

Oss!

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Karate Combat: Why I Compete in it!

Jonas during his debute fight in Karate Combat.

Karate Combat has been criticized by many traditional karateka and even The Shotokan Times. However, I have good reasons to compete in it! By Jonas Correia

Last year we were introduced to a professional Karate league where renowned semi-contact karate athletes fought in full contact rules in a competition quite different from what we are used to see. The peculiarity of the event, known as Karate Combat, began with the format of the competition area which became known as “The Pit” and all the production and climate of the 80’s martial arts movies that still inspire martial artists today.

With all the professionalism of a big event, it did not take long to Karate Combat gain the visibility it deserved. You can find the previous fights an Karate Combat.

The event, divided the opinion of Karate practitioners. Some said that it was no longer Karate. Others said that this would be the watershed to rescue the name of Karate that find itself in the darkness.

Karate Has Lost Its Efficiency

omThat karate has lost much of its efficiency due to the constant rules limiting combativeness is not something new. But we know that competition is part of the development of a fighter, too. Even if it is in points rules. However, what would have been wrong in the creation of a full contact rule which had been carefully planned so that art would not be miss-characterized? If we observe well, the absence of knee techniques, elbows, kicks in the thigh and uppercut shows how much the organizers have tried to maintain fidelity to the competitive characteristics of the art, or at least the common rules which we are accustomed to and not letting the event become another Kickboxing event or mma event.

Watching all this, I was enchanted by the possibility of entering the event. In less than an hour that I had discovered about KC on Facebook, I filled the inbox of Karate Combat with my emails to show my interest.

Jonas first entrance in the Karate Combat arena.

I needed to fight there. But why? Some even asked me why, but I honestly can not quite understand the reason.

Karate Combat Is a New Challenge

If there is something that every martial arts practitioner that competes a lot have in common, is the taste for new challenges. Besides this factor which only a deep Freudian explanation would make the reader understand, I thought to myself, how would I not let myself participate in an event which had already entered into the contemporary history of karate? Why not give myself the chance to be part of this important chapter?

I had done 3 Chinese Kickboxing fights (Sanshou / Sanda) in 2007. One of the Amador mma in 2009, and had competed countless times in karate tournaments. It was time for something else before my routine of father of 4 children at my 33’s made my competitive career even more difficult. I thought that was my last chance to do something really meaningful to myself before ending (or slowing down) my competitive career in karate.

Karate Combat Requires Different Training Than Shobu Ippon

When there was the fourth Combat Karate event in New York (30 minutes away from where I live) I found a way to be around and see how it worked. This also gave me the opportunity to meet several people at the event. It was there that I was able to demonstrate my interest. The following month I was invited to fight. I had 3 months to prepare myself.

Full contact rule training is very different from traditional karate training. Since there will be no stop for point marking and the fight will continue after a well-executed technique, high intensity training based on mma training, and other contact sports became necessary. Three months seemed not to be enough time for this. Besides I have scheduled a trip to train at JKA’s Hombu Dojo for a week.

Jonas did fight in the WUKF World Championships. Thus, he fights in traditional formats and Karate Combat.
Jonas did fight in the WUKF World Championships in Slovakia this year. Thus, he fights in traditional formats and Karate Combat.

My First Fight in the “Pit”

The week of the event had arrived. We had to be in Hollywood a week before to do a series of medical examinations among other things required for the marketing and advertising of the event.

While all the fighters were already in position and keeping the form together with their coaches, I did not have the same luck. My coach could only come one day before the fight.

The day of the event arrived. I was confident. And I won the victory over my opponent Luiz Diogo from Portugal. However, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance for particular reasons.

The feeling of ending a contact fight is very good, especially with a positive result. But the truth is that the adrenaline makes you to miss the fight. If someone asked me if I would fight again at that moment, I would certainly say yes.

Karate Combat Is Worth the Experience

I believe that all karatekas should experience full contact fights regardless of their idea of what karate should be. The truth is that in a full contact match, it is about You against your Lungs! Your opponent is just a detail.

In a real combat, often the breath outweighs the technique and many people overlook this factor of extreme importance. For those who believe in the effectiveness of karate as an art of self-defense, they must experience something of this kind in their life. Even though KC is a competition of limited rules, full contact rules teaches a lot about fighting under pressure.

Makiwara and Ikken Hisatsu as Foundation for Strong Karate

If you believe that Karate is enough, I advise you then, to hit makiwara every single day. I truly believe and practice the idea of Ikken Hisatsu. If you ever need to use your karate in real combat and do not have enough breath, be precise and straightforward. Because if you need to take more than 5 minutes to solve a real combat situation, it will be very difficult to succeed.

Jonas succeded in his debute fight in Karate Combat.

The truth is that a martial artist should not be close minded to just one idea. I believe that the practitioner must faithfully follow one path which he believes. However, he must be ready not to be surprised. Experiencing something different will not cause you to discredit what you have practiced. But it may help you to understand it better.

The Necessity of Karate Combat for Traditional Karate

I hope Karate Combat has come to stay. Not every karateka needs the KC, but Karate needed such an event.

Even though it does not please everyone, Karate Combat came at an opportune moment. Our art falls into oblivion of a world that has only eyes for mma, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and so on.

When was the last time you filled your classes with adult only? Why is karate nowadays limited or attracted only to children?

We can not wait for another Lyoto Machida to soften the wounded ego.

The truth hurts, but Karate has lost a lot of credibility as self-defense.

Save Karate Combat and / or any other attempt to do something bolder.

With your permission, I’m going to hit my makiwara! Oss!