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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Honesty is the Best Policy

First a Little Story:
While at a recent Seidokaikan Open Knock Down Tournament a friend of mine was perplexed as to why it seemed like some of the fighters were holding back. “He asked me what was stopping them from really just letting loose,” I tried to explain to him that it was because they were aware of how dangerous fully letting loose could be especially when expecting to fight half-a-dozen or more guys in a day.

I don’t think this answer really satisfied him until I showed him the picture at the top of this post. The feet of the tournament champion, so swollen that he will likely be condemned to crocks for the next few weeks. A true tragedy I assure you.

So what does this story have to do with honesty? Sadly many martial artists are dishonest about their actual abilities. As I am an optimist I would like to believe that this is not a result of intentional deception but rather the result of self inflammatory fallacies often promoted by unrealistic training practices and a capitalistic drive for self promotion. Bringing reality into the dojo can be much hard then you may think but today I will suggest why including knock down style “semi-full contact” kumite in your training regimen may help keep your head out of the clouds.

I must first state that knock down kumite is by no means the most realistic form of combative training. Firstly in most styles of Kyokushin based knock down kumite punching to the face is strictly prohibited. This is why I often refer to this style of kumite as “semi-full contact” rather than full contact. Removing punches to the head encourages practitioners to attempt to kick to the head while some times relaxing their guard. Most street brawler brutes will tell you that trying to kick some on in the head can be rather risky in the real world, though I have heard tail of it working quite well, and not so long ago both Machida and Silva showed us the power of head kicks in the cage. But with those tales aside, despite some flaws, please remember no method of training is with out flaw; knock down style kumite does offer a great benefit to any martial arts practitioner.

The use of knock down style kumite encourages one to develop an arsenal of close contact strikes. This is something that is severely lacking in many traditional styles of karate and taekwondo. I my self come from a shotokan background and have struggled with close quarters combat in the past. Training Knock down style kumite has helped me to bridge the gap.

Though knock down kumite can act as a bridge into close quarter’s combat; where I see the most benefit is when the gloves come off. You must become more honest with your self when fighting with out padding. Even if you spar with only light mitts 8 ounce or less and shin pads you may not realize how much comfort you are affording yourself. With out the pads you become much more vulnerable both on the giving and receiving ends of kumite. You quickly become aware of the importance of defending your self and choosing you attacks wisely.

I am not suggesting we throw all of our protective equipment out and start bare knuckle boxing, I mean I am a big fan of Daidojuku, however I am suggesting that we strip down every once and awhile and be a little more honest with our selves. So that we may become more aware of our bodies and the deficiencies we may hold in our respective fighting stiles. Knock down kumite is only one piece of the puzzle, when trying to bring some reality into the dojo, but it is one worth exploring especially for those who practice non-contact styles of Karate.

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