Karate - Budo  
  The key features and principles for understanding karate  


  >> Stage karaté Vincenzo Figuccio 19-21 mai - Belgique english français
Kumite in pratice
  Styles of karate
  Aims of karate
  Kihon, kata, kumite
  Physical principes
  Aggression and stress
  Kumite in pratice
  Dangerous spots
  Japan, Buddhism & Zen
  Karate and emptiness
  The book
    Shotokan kata
    Shitoryu kata
    Goju-ryu kata
    Takedown & MMA
    Physical training



Here are some useful features for practising kumite. These recommendations are drawn from Best Karate by M. Nakayama.


1. Introduction

1. Do not rush into the kumite. The basic techniques, stances, moves and katas must be endlessly repeated so that they become reflexes and develop kime.

2. Karate is a physical and spiritual training. To progress, it is first necessary to control oneself physically and mentally. To become a good karateka does not mean just working on your body; you also have to improve your character and enhance your willpower, accuracy, spontaneity and self-control


2 Stances and guards

1. Fighting stances are often likened to a fudodachi or sanchin dachi. The knees are slightly bent, the weight of the body is distributed evenly over the two lower limbs and the heels do not touch the ground (you can slip a sheet of paper between the ground and the heels).

2. The guard is an important feature. Ideally it should protect the chin, ribs and plexus. The trunk is often in a slightly slanting position. The upper limbs must be relaxed.

3. Distance is a key element that must be experienced. The “right distance” is when you can reach the opponent in one step. This distance varies according to the technique used (feet, fists, etc.).


3 Gaze and mind-set

1. The gaze must be fixed, as though you were looking into the distance. You need to be able to see your entire opponent (not just the eyes or the top or bottom half of the body).

2. Stay alert and attentive (zanchin) with your body calm and relaxed but ready to act.

3. Avoid making confused and uncoordinated attacks.

4. When the decision to attack or counter-attack is taken, it must be done so with determination. Carry out a real attack.

5. In martial arts such as Zen, you have to be able to detach yourself and evacuate everything. In combat, you must not focus too much on your own or your opponent’s movements, otherwise you run the risk of losing spontaneity and reaction speed.

4 Seize the moment

It is essential to grasp the right time, moment and opportunity to carry out an attack. Several strategies can be adopted:

1. Sen-no-sen: at the start of your opponent’s attack, block and attack simultaneously. At this particular moment, your opponent’s mind will be focused on the attack and not on a possible defence.

2. Go-no-sen: when the opponent has exhausted his or her attack(s), he or she is often near to you and exhausted. To master this type of combat, you should remain focused on the idea of counter-attacking rather than blocking. You should also force the opponent to react by making him or her believe that there is an opportunity to take advantage of the attack to fight back. With this in mind, also remember the slip.

3. Create an opportunity:

  • Pretend that you are going to strike a blow. At this instant, your opponent will contract then relax. Make the most of the moment to attack immediately.
  • Feint in order, for example, to divert attention downwards before then attacking upwards.
  • Attack without stopping and, when your opponent’s position is weakened, make the decisive attack.
  • If your opponent’s attitude makes you step back, at that moment his or her body is often contracted and, therefore, slower. Make the most of the opportunity.
  • Make the most of any moment of inattention (a noise, cry, look, etc.).
  • Attack directly or after changing position as soon as the distance is right without giving anything away (without any backward movement) and by eliminating your opponent’s defences (for example with an osae uke to let down the guard).
  • Blocking with power can destabilise the opponent; make the most of this moment.
  • Unbalance the opponent, for example with a ashi barai, and attack straightaway.