Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On July - 3 - 2013

punchinfaceMany people take karate classes and think that they are supposed to wail on the people that they are practicing with. Some believe that the only way to show that they are strong is to make contact with their training partners. Does this really prove that you are a good karate ka?

If you constantly have problems finding sparring partners or hear a string of complaints when you are practicing with someone, then there is a problem. If this is you then you need to look at yourself. Some styles are heavy on contact but in most Shotokan organizations, contact is frowned upon. The object is not to make contact but to come within an inch of the target with a full speed and power technique. This shows that you have a better understanding on what you are doing.

Denise Blocking_fullAlso, some students put everything into their blocks forcing bruising on their partners arms. This is also incorrect use of the technique. The defender does not realize that they are jamming the techniques and not deflecting. You are supposed to catch the blow on the fleshy part of the arm and then rotate the arm to deflect the blow. By jamming, the defender is hitting bone on bone which can lead to injury.

The thing I tell all of my students is that we do not have contact because who would want to come back after basically getting beaten up each class. I know I wouldn’t want to continue my training if each class I left with a black eye or a bloody nose. It is just something that I do not want to do.

Ask a 3rd Dan and up who they would rather have a sparring match with. The answer will be a 3rd Dan and up. Brown belts and low black belts still see things in the, “I need to hit” mindset. It is the senior ranks that understand that contact is not the be all and end all of showing that you are a strong karate ka.

Instructors teach your students early that they need to avoid hitting but show the control that is more important. Start by having your students pair up. They will begin at a distance apart that will not allow them to come within a foot of each other. They will then have to practice throwing punches with full power at each other. After a while have them get a little closer and continue until their full power punches are within a inch of each other.

I once did a demonstration for a newspaper reporter for the Mount Allison University paper, The Argosy. They wanted to know the power of karate. I asked the young lady to stand perfectly still and I threw a well placed full speed and power punch straight at her face. She winced anticipating a stunning blow then opened one eye to see my fist right in front of her nose. She was stunned! “That is amazing!” she responded after a few deep breathes.

If you want to be seen as a strong karate ka, you need to avoid contact but focus on control. Learn control early and you will excel as a black belt.

There are a few things that you will have to add to your training when you start to focus more on control. You will need to add makiwara or striking shield training. This will allow you to actually hit a target at full power. The target will not complain as much as a training partner. It will also give the resistance that will come with hitting an actual person. This is needed so that if you ever have to use your training to protect yourself then you will not stop short of the target.

Remember to improve on your skills and show that you are a strong karate ka, you do not have to focus on hitting your training partners. You need to focus more on control of your techniques. When you test for your next belt you will impress the examiner!


Categories: Teaching/Training

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