Fresh off the back of another excellent Karate camp… I’m reflecting on some things that I have been wondering about lately. Many of the things I have been thinking about and or heard over time were re-iterated or confirmed by various high-level instructors over the weekend.
I have, therefore, definitely now concluded that Kyokushin Karate, as it is taught in most dojo’s, is not perfect for self-defense. It’s even less suited to more petite women and children. It’s almost detrimental.
Now I understand that I am not a Kyokushin Scholar, and I cannot recount the many changes and periods that have perhaps come to pass over time, nor can I remember dates and the names of all legendary fighters and instructors…but I feel that my 24 years of constant training gives me some eligibility for comment. That…and the fact that I AM indeed one of those more petite women makes me a good case study.
My exposure to years of Muay Thai and attendance at a good number of seminars and fantastic instructors over the years – my brief exposure to Kudo, my slow learning Jiu-Jitsu training, etc. I think all give rise to some level of informed judgment.
I will go out and say that unless I can punch the face….strike the groin…..take the fight to the ground if needed and apply chokes and holds…. I’m never going to be able to win against a bigger, reasonably skilled, or violently intent opponent. It’s just not going to happen. I know this because I’ve been the tiny person standing in front of the bigger ones (often but not always male), trying to have an impact with body blows and leg kicks. Sometimes yeah…I can strike them…….but I am not dropping them where they stand. There is ample time for them to hit me back….and yes, I block much……and avoid lots…..but if they get one in…… I’m feeling it. I’ve been launched across the mats on numerous occasions, and that’s fine…but it troubles me too. My ego (not going to lie) is bruised….but more so, I’m frustrated.
Now think of this…think of giving out black belts to women and kids only teaching the stand-up tournament style of Kyokushin. Or even men too. IT’s almost irresponsible as they feel that they then have the skills to deal with a potentially violent situation when in reality….there is a distinct lack of ability to do real damage or shut down an attacker for long enough to be safe.
Now…I can already hear many of you saying…….” That’s rubbish. You’re just not good enough” Well, that may be the case. Maybe I’m not. But if I’m not…..after 24 years…..then who or what is to blame here? Is it me…is it my instructors…the syllabus…..what?
I also know that many of you who know much about Kyokushin will say that Kyokushin does have face punches… throws….and limited groundwork. That may be true….but how often are they practiced, and what percentage of the class time is taken up with them? It’s not enough to iterate that they exist in the syllabus or Kata. It’s not enough to merely know or mention that Sosai wrote about Ground defense is necessary.
As instructors, we tell our students that techniques’ repetition until automatic movements is crucial. We know this to be true.
But that alone is not enough.
Basics repeated in the air teach predominately muscle memory alone. They don’t also teach timing and working with the flinch response. Only Partner training can do that.
So…these basics…this Kihon must regularly practice drill style with a partner.
So…If you aren’t doing take-downs…… groundwork, and face punch as part of your basics, and you’re not drilling them every training session, then they also won’t be automatic, and they won’t be part of the student’s “go-to” under duress. I’m going to say then…..they are not helpful and possibly irrelevant to someone as a Kyokushin Exponent.
I’d love to see Kyokushin move forward and embrace what was left behind with the focus on the Kyokushin Knock Down tournaments. I feel that lots of dojos want to be known for great fighters, and that’s awesome. There’s no denying that Full Contact Kyokushin Fighters are rugged, robust, and formidable. However……outside of that arena, how would they fare? Especially women who don’t have size, height, and strength over their opponent or attacker.
Also…outside of a controlled tournament event….how would their skills hold up? No doubt, having a solid Kyokushin base would be a better defense than none….but ask yourself if you feel that your daughter or wife or indeed yourself is getting the complete training you would like.
So… I’m asking for feedback from all my Kyokushin Friends and associates…would you like to see competition evolve to include grabs and takedowns and groundwork and face punches?
How would it look?
Remember, you can’t wear kickboxing style gloves, as this makes grabbing and chokes pretty much impossible.
Would it look like Kudo with Helmets /face protection?
I mean, we could still have traditional Knockdown events as we know them….perhaps this could be a new division…or should it take over completely? And if it did- how would dojo’s change to account for this?
Do you think it would make Kyokushin more all around?
I also just want to qualify that by this, I don’t mean that this type of fighting is what makes Kyokushin complete. There are many aspects to fight that are great, but without addressing Kata and the ‘spiritual’ side of Karate, it really shouldn’t be called a ‘Martial Art”. Karate should be as much about development of the good character of its exponents as it is about their physical abilities. Observing courtesies, rituals, hierarchy, respect, honour , Loyalty, self sacrifice etc….these all should make up part of the dojo.
This I know for sure. I also firmly believe that all things (ourselves included) must continuously be analyzed to improve and evolve constantly.