Karaté - Budo

Eléments essentiels à la compréhension du karaté

Karate Budo

1.Fights for Survival or Parrying

Parrying is a scenario in which two individuals try to impose their superiority. It is a type of fighting that is frequently found in the animal world as a way of designating the chief of a group or the breeding male. It is not generally designed to seriously injure the opponent. Competitive kumites are considered a form of parrying.

Fights for survival are common among different animal species, for example between a zebra and lion or a wolf and a sheep. In contrast, this type of fighting is rare between animals of the same species. Unfortunately, humankind, with its wars and murders, is the exception to this rule.

The strategies and techniques employed must be tailored to the particular type of combat. In competitive kumite, the vital points (except for those that are less dangerous) are avoided. Moreover, the strikes are controlled on pain of disqualification. The techniques used are very simple and few in number. The aim is often to work on one’s explosiveness and speed in order to surprise the opponent and score a point before retreating a safe distance and avoiding being countered.

Contrariwise, in a fight for survival, the vital points are targeted and strikes are launched at full power. Naturally, no rules are applicable and any object can be used. Survival situations are a part of martial karate. Kata applications belong to self-defence scenarios and close combat situations that are very useful in a fight for survival.


2. Engagement Distance (maai)

The engagement distance between two “opponents” is a key feature:

  • It can be long, in which case it is called a “safe distance”. Your opponent cannot directly touch you; he or she needs to take at least two steps to reach you;
  • It can be medium, i.e. the opponent needs one step to reach you;
  • It can be short, in which case it is termed hand-to-hand fighting.

 The techniques must be adapted to suit the distance. When fighting at long distance, the individual often takes a step forward to break the safe distance. This step is typically coupled with a feint attack (e.g. kisami tsuki or hiza geri) which can also serve as protection. One or more attacks are then initiated as you advance. The techniques are often the same at medium distance but are employed directly without a forward step. At close distance, the techniques have to be tailored: enpi, ura tsuki, hiza geri, holds, locks, sweeps, throws, etc.

The distances must be adjusted according to the opponent and your ability.
If your opponent is a specialist in judo or muay thai, it is probably better to choose a long distance (strikes followed by a rapid return to a safe distance).
If your opponent is very quick, a long distance can sometimes be useful to give yourself the time to react and plan your counter-attack.

If your opponent is tall, it is better to work at close quarters (at mid-distance or hand-to-hand) to avoid being within reach without being able to fight back. In addition, long arms or legs prove to be a handicap at short distance.

If your opponent is heavy and powerful, it is better to work at long distance, strike quickly and retreat immediately. There is, however, no absolute rule, and the idea is to take account of your opponent, as well as your habits and skills.


3. Moves

At safe distance, it is often easy to block one or two blows. This becomes more complicated when three or four attacks are mounted in succession. The work of a uke is further complicated if the tori works on different levels: jodan, chudan and gedan, and if he or she varies the type of strike: tsuki, geri, enpi, hiza, etc.
As a corollary, although it is important for the tori to launch different types of attacks on several levels, it is crucial for the uke to slip, block and counter the opponent almost simultaneously so as not to be overwhelmed. In a “go no sen” mind-set, the uke must consider counter-attacking rather than blocking. In a “sen no sen” mind-set, the uke must anticipate the attack. The counter-attack and blocking must be simultaneous and succeed before the tori has had the time to develop his or her attack.

Read more on surprise attacks and feints, moves and slips, the muscle relaxation, the kime, the kiai and the timing in the book "Karate: more than the move".

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