Western New York Karate Center

Shihan Bill

October 7, 2016

Consistency is Key

It is understandable when a karateka appears to engage in Kumite in a manner that is not consistent with Kihon and Kata. Whether the person is training in karate, tae kwon do, or some other system, in a mixed martial arts tournament, only a studious eye might discern which system a participant has been studying when watching them spar.  While Kihon, or the basics, and Kata, or forms, are at the heart of a martial art and perfectly reflect the philosophy of a given martial arts system, Kumite cannot perfectly reflect any given martial arts system.  Martial arts can be lethal and therefore the practice of Kihon and Kata can demonstrate potentially lethal techniques. Kumite cannot be lethal.  If Kumite was practiced in a lethal manner, no dojo would long remain open as its members would either get arrested, die, or quit out of fear of arrest or death. Furthermore, if participants from different systems each entered the ring with a different set of safety guidelines and methods for evaluating success, the potential for lethal misunderstandings would be too great to allow.  A common set of Kumite rules, unique to tournament participation, must be obeyed.  Thus, Kumite training is performed under many strict guidelines intended to provide a common ground of practice that will also preserve the well-being of its participants.

With randori, the real world application of Kumite, the most minimal guidelines are provided in order to preserve the well-being of participants yet otherwise still allow the participants to perform in manner that demonstrates a martial arts system with greatest accuracy.  Randori should not occur outside of a dojo and thus the chance for misunderstanding between participants is significantly reduced.  The real world application of Kihon and Kata is referred to as “self-defense.”  Like randori, self-defense techniques have minimal guidelines to preserve the well-being of participants but otherwise participants should perform in a manner that accurately reflects that martial arts system.

Despite this, students often perform self-defense techniques as if they were in a separate category from Kihon and Kata. Worse, the self-defense techniques often don’t appear altered to safeguard against lethality as much as they appear altered out of ignorance for the need to remain true to the martial arts system. While offensive techniques will be maintained, only a subset from the entire system will usually be demonstrated. Stances will often end up abandoned and defensive techniques will be only partially executed as if they are not viewed as essential to the self-defense technique in the same way as offensive components.  If one hopes to have the practice of Kihon and Kata lead to successful real world use, self-defense techniques must be consistent with the philosophy of the martial arts system.

If one’s martial arts system does not including breaking one’s posture at one’s waist, one’s self-defense technique shouldn’t either.  If one’s martial arts system does not train you to go to the ground or remain on the ground, neither should one’s self-defense technique.  Consistency in training, particularly in how one demonstrates self-defense techniques, is the key to real world success in using one’s martial arts system.