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OkamiBlack
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Joined: 04 Aug 2017
Posts: 5


PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:44 pm    Post subject: Existing in a karate club when I'm opposed to sports karate. Reply with quote

Hi.

Rant incoming. Asking for feedback.

Backstory: 14 years now teaching/training in current karate club. Sandan (3rd dan) rank. Started for self defence, fitness, confidence, discipline, to reach my black belt - much of the standard reasons.

I've dabbled in tournaments here and there along the way, probably inspired by the original Karate Kid film, which started my whole interest in martial arts to begin with so many years ago. I'm also a qualified judge/ref for my club and pretty good at it.

As the years have gone by, my distaste for sports karate and competitive martial arts leagues (MMA especially too...That's a WHOLE other thing for another day) has grown and grown. If it were up to me, there wouldn't be competition involved whatsoever. Hand to hand combat isn't designed for this, the pursuit for glory, medals, adulation. Even despite this, I have still enjoyed watching footage of the likes of Rafael Aghayev and Junior Leferve in action sometimes.

If people don't want to do tournaments in my club then fine, that's your choice. Some Sensei and students will encourage it strongly, some won't.
I am a traditionalist at heart and always have been. I want to learn the techniques so that I know I can fight. I just feel the priority people place in tournaments is too high. For some, it seems to be their ONLY priority. Yes, everyone DOES start and train for different reasons.

But point sparring is not a realistic reflection of combat, nor are many full contact comps like Kyokushin where you can kick to the head but not punch. The worst part is when fellow Sensei or students (Often the younger ones, preteens - early 20's) bring their point fighting style in dojo kumite, as if that's the only way they know how to fight...instead of separating them. I can't tell you how much I hate bouncing. Yes, of course, you want to be light on your feet and employ tai sabaki (footwork, angles) but again, it's just not combat. And I get frustrated. Not so visibily and outwardly, but it's bugging me. I see the excessive movement with needless, extraneous bouncing and changing feet and angles even when well out of combat range and thinking "What the Hell are you doing?" It is not a one size fits all approach either. There's streetwise self defence, dojo kumite, point fighting. You can't be the same amongst all three. I feel a lot of people don't know how to switch the tournament side of themselves "off".

Our club is holding it's biggest tournament event this weekend and I see friends posting about it all over social media. So much of me rolls my eyes, wants to feel sick. When I have promoted tournaments to students (As hierarchy will dictate) even in my growing disinterest, I have used to angle of confidence building and putting yourself under pressure for kata and kumite with opponents and a crowd. That's how I tried to "live with myself". But those things can be found in class anyway.

There's a part of me that wonders if I am just whining for nothing, like an old man yelling at a cloud (I'm mid 30's, not old). A part of me thinks of the saying "Shhh, let people enjoy things".

But at the same time, I think sports martial arts is diluting the strength, foundation, philosophy, etc of traditional karate and what it should be about in creating good, honourable people with strong values and morals, who have formidable and deadly skills that will hopefully never need to be used to real life...but they're there. To me, tournaments are just another revenue stream. That's my most cynical thought on it.

It's a distraction, a silly, frivolous aspect of the martial arts that feels so flashy, glossy and kind of narcissistic. It takes away from what it really means to be in a real situation where people are really hitting each other and trying to hurt each other. And even if the Karate style has a focus on safety in the dojo which (Unlike the stories of the wilder, tougher 1960's-70's era) it has to to some extent, it's still leagues closer to what real combat is like.

Then there's XMA, the worst of them all...routines that have no combat thought put into what happens in them, sloppy, full bore, one speed, showy crap.

Examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqQWN7X6FLU
Bloody Matt Mullins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG4kSydyp-U

Annnd then there's the habit of people in point fighting who upon scoring (Or trying extra hard to SELL the score) they turn their back to the opponent and draw out their kiai with this insincere yell that goes on for 10 seconds. It's absurd.

Ugh...I could probably rant more. I do value respect and being respectful but there's really no one in the club to talk to, I kind of have to bite my tongue. I just don't believe in martial arts competition and I know it's not going away. And like I said, sometimes I feel so frustrated and so over it but here I am, quietly irritated and stewing, which isn't good for me.

I just wonder what others think and if anyone else feels the same way I do. Do you think tournaments have been a positive addition or a negative to the Karate world and why?
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singularity6
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Joined: 26 Jun 2017
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Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi OkamiBlack, and welcome to the forum!

Your post indicates that you have a lot of passion for martial arts, and I think you'll find that we all will have that in common.

While I can appreciate your stance on sport vs. tradition, I do not share the sentiment. Interestingly, I personally do not have any interest in competing, and I'm learning my martial art for most of the same reasons you are. You're correct that tournament sparring does now truly replicate real-life application, and it shouldn't. Sparring in this fashion provides many folks dynamic situations to practice their skills where the opponent is real and has the approximate skill level. Rules and points are there obviously for safety reasons, and to quantify a "winner" (it is a competition, after all.) Sure, this is hyper-realistic, but chances are, you won't be fighting with someone who's had significant martial arts training. The martial artist will likely have the upper edge in the conflict, should one happen (and the sparring, regardless of its superfluity, will pay off when it comes to nerves, initiative and reaction time.)

Regarding MMA and such: We get the occasional "new student" who wants to learn how to fight, and only to fight. The fact that we wear a uniform is a turn-off to these folks. (Some might still join for a time, with the mindset that our style and our teaching will help improve their game in some fashion.) I do not share their sentiment, but their sentiment does nothing to impact our school. We will continue on our path, and they will continue on their own.

Now when it comes to holding on to the "old traditions" of martial arts, I AM one of those people who wants to see that survive. I love that aspect of martial arts, and I continuously seek to expand my knowledge of the subject. However, if schools were to cling only to that old way of thinking, many wouldn't be around for long. I feel there's room for both types of schools - the old way, and those who cater more to the sport. In my opinion, opening up a bit to the sport could help the enrollment in traditional styles a bit. MMA fighters can't compete forever. Many may turn to a traditional school once their MMA career is over.
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sensei8
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to KF, OkamiBlack; glad that you're here!!

I, too, existed in a very traditional Okinawa Karate dojo forever and a day, where sport karate wasn't appreciated or wanted by both of our Soke and Dai-Soke.

Neither of them supported it. None of them wanted it. None of them wanted to ever hear about it. None of them could care less about it. None of them wanted their Student Body to partake of it. NEVER. EVER. They both were dead against sport karate; to them, sport karate was the bane of karate's existence.

However, neither of them ever once refused us for wanting to experience sport karate; better to have tried it, then to have never tried it at all. Neither of them ever retaliated against their Student Body by suspending them and/or expelling them for wanting to compete in sport karate. Again, they just didn't want to hear about our ventures and/or our journey into the world of sport karate.

What they understood was this. As being part of their Student Body, we were not owned by them; they couldn't tell us what to do because we are human beings, and not their property to do with as they'd like. This was equal towards both the children and adults of their Student Body!! And for us children, our parents/guardians/etc were the first and final authority over us, in and out of their dojo.

There was a small band of us teenager JBB's that formed a group called, The Weekend Warriors. We traveled up and down the state of California competing in many tournaments, both small as well as large, every weekend. Soke and Dai-Soke both knew of our little band of sport karate enthusiastic misfits, but they allowed us to continue as part of their Student Body. In time, they eased up their strictness across the board concerning sport karate, but very, very little...we took it...better than nothing.

In my own dojo's, I encourage sport karate among my Student Body, but just as long as Shindokan is their priority, and not becoming secondary. I encourage them to seek out open tournaments because Kumite against no one else but Shindokanists is a waste of time. The more different styles they face at these tournaments, the more well rounded they'll become. Kumite against those differences will hopefully open their eyes to expand beyond Shindokan.



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Last edited by sensei8 on Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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OkamiBlack
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Joined: 04 Aug 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses so far.

Today has been the last day of the big tournament event and with the black belt divisions on, Facebook has been awash with the grandiose posts and it has been trying. There's been a lot of sighing and grunting. I wish I didn't let this affect me so much.

Just to make a point from Singularity's post, I have to disagree with the concept that "chances are, you won't be fighting with someone who's had significant martial arts training". That used to be the general consensus I believe but with the growth of MMA...and TONS of guys coming through with massive egos, short fuses and disrespectful trash talk and none of the etiquette (Save for a small minority...at least in my exposure) I think the playing field has become very upset. I think the chances are of encountering a trained person with poor or nefarious intentions has risen dramatically in the last ten or so years.

I see a lot of schools adapt to current trends and adopting MMA, etc into their syllabuses in order to survive. I've been involved in the business/enrolment side of my club and understand the drop out rate. I understand the humble little schools where the instructors make no money either (Have a day job) and only teach for the love of it and will not bend to those changes. Sure, that can be romanticised as being pure and honourable but...isn't that what it is all about?

Businesses need tough decisions, innovation and adaptability (Ha...another martial arts trait) to work but where is that line? When do you realise you have "Sold out"?

As Sensei8 has talked about sparring people from other styles...I'm certainly in favour of that. I just don't think sports martial arts leagues is the field for it, especially when the approach and philosophy is so different to genuine, real Karate combat. I just don't see tournaments as any kind of accurate assessment of how one exponent compares to another or their true level of skill.

I do agree with the idea that at least, "Yes...you COULD do sports karate (And I cannot stop you), but that MUST be secondary to your primary dojo training". That's what I feel gets lost sometimes. I think some students/sensei need this to be stressed to them on a much stronger and more consistent level. That if this tournament aspect of martial arts is to exist, then don't make that your entire world, your priority. But...I know the club also likes to earn money too.

It's a philosophical adjustment I have to live with and I don't want it to affect my loyalty, motivation or interest in what I do. But I feel like I die inside a little every time the entry forms for the next round comes out to give out in class and I have to set time aside to train the students up who are looking to enter. I have to go against my feelings about sports karate being a waste of time and surpress that or lie while telling my students how great it is. Mind you, I've become more low key and conservative about it in recent years. "Eh, do it or don't do it".

I do worry about what this does to the arts. I do fear the detrimental effects competitive martial arts can have. I don't want to be bitter and resentful either. Still, it would be arrogant of me too, to dictate how things should be and that "I know better" against so many other people's wishes and goals...and for the fact that I don't run the club.

It's a tough thing to go through...and like I said, feeling kind of alone about it, not knowing who to talk to about this, save from the anonymous safety of a forum like this.
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singularity6
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Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're not alone! Again, I'm in it purely for the art (well, and physical/mental fitness.)

So, this is your own school? If so, I'd follow Sensei8's model. Train them in a traditional way. If they choose to take it elsewhere (say, some MMA ring and NOT abusing it on the streets,) then so be it. You may even be able to convince them that pumsae have a place in their training (which they do!)
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sensei8
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OkamiBlack wrote:
Thanks for the responses so far.

Today has been the last day of the big tournament event and with the black belt divisions on, Facebook has been awash with the grandiose posts and it has been trying. There's been a lot of sighing and grunting. I wish I didn't let this affect me so much.

Just to make a point from Singularity's post, I have to disagree with the concept that "chances are, you won't be fighting with someone who's had significant martial arts training". That used to be the general consensus I believe but with the growth of MMA...and TONS of guys coming through with massive egos, short fuses and disrespectful trash talk and none of the etiquette (Save for a small minority...at least in my exposure) I think the playing field has become very upset. I think the chances are of encountering a trained person with poor or nefarious intentions has risen dramatically in the last ten or so years.

I see a lot of schools adapt to current trends and adopting MMA, etc into their syllabuses in order to survive. I've been involved in the business/enrolment side of my club and understand the drop out rate. I understand the humble little schools where the instructors make no money either (Have a day job) and only teach for the love of it and will not bend to those changes. Sure, that can be romanticised as being pure and honourable but...isn't that what it is all about?

Businesses need tough decisions, innovation and adaptability (Ha...another martial arts trait) to work but where is that line? When do you realise you have "Sold out"?

As Sensei8 has talked about sparring people from other styles...I'm certainly in favour of that. I just don't think sports martial arts leagues is the field for it, especially when the approach and philosophy is so different to genuine, real Karate combat. I just don't see tournaments as any kind of accurate assessment of how one exponent compares to another or their true level of skill.

I do agree with the idea that at least, "Yes...you COULD do sports karate (And I cannot stop you), but that MUST be secondary to your primary dojo training". That's what I feel gets lost sometimes. I think some students/sensei need this to be stressed to them on a much stronger and more consistent level. That if this tournament aspect of martial arts is to exist, then don't make that your entire world, your priority. But...I know the club also likes to earn money too.

It's a philosophical adjustment I have to live with and I don't want it to affect my loyalty, motivation or interest in what I do. But I feel like I die inside a little every time the entry forms for the next round comes out to give out in class and I have to set time aside to train the students up who are looking to enter. I have to go against my feelings about sports karate being a waste of time and surpress that or lie while telling my students how great it is. Mind you, I've become more low key and conservative about it in recent years. "Eh, do it or don't do it".

I do worry about what this does to the arts. I do fear the detrimental effects competitive martial arts can have. I don't want to be bitter and resentful either. Still, it would be arrogant of me too, to dictate how things should be and that "I know better" against so many other people's wishes and goals...and for the fact that I don't run the club.

It's a tough thing to go through...and like I said, feeling kind of alone about it, not knowing who to talk to about this, save from the anonymous safety of a forum like this.

Very solid post; that is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out post.

Existing in a karate club when you're opposed to sports karate, must be quite of a challenge, from time to time, if not all of the time.

What's your exact impression of your CI??

Is the dojo geared one-hundred percent of the time towards sport karate, and nothing but sport karate??

Are you required to partake in sport karate, with no exceptions??

If the CI is more than qualified, then, if it was me, I'd simply remain there and just train. Setting aside any differences I might have concerning anything related to sport karate.

While I did partake in sport karate in my youth quite heavily, and throughout my MA journey up to the late 80's and early 90's, before finally walking away from it, I was, and still am, that staunched proponent of traditional Karate-do, without any reservation and/or ambiguity whatsoever.

In the dojo, and especially on the floor, tradition is paramount to the Nth degree. No conversations regarding sport karate because my dojo's have always been traditional across the board.

I learned to separate the two loves of my life, and not allowing either of them to become intertwined with one another. Tradition was pure; like my Soke and Dai-Soke, my dojo floor is sacred and holy ground, and in that, sport karate is the bane of the existence Karate-do.

Away from the sanctity of the floor, sport karate was live and well. Trained in it in secluded places with other kind minded enthusiastic MAist in preparation for up-coming tournaments. I did this all of the time up to retiring from sport karate. However, I still do play an important role in MA tournaments by volunteering as an Tournament Arbitrator, and occasional judge.

My love for both traditional and sport karate isn't an oxymoron, whatsoever. I keep them separate...I keep them at a far away distance from each other...I keep them biased from one another.

While I might be encouraging my Student Body to partake in sport karate, I don't allow those conversation on the floor. Want to discuss that aspect, it has to be done in either my office or in the lobby or in the retail area or away from the dojo, but never ever on the floor.

I believe that you can co-exist in the dojo you're attending currently. Let them do what they want to do, which is sport karate, while you do what you want to do, which is traditional Karate-do.

Does it have to be a Catch-22 thing?? Does it have be feel like you're caught behind the 8-Ball??

Your CI is the key to you co-existing in that dojo. Without him supporting you separately from the others, there is no future there for you, or at least, very difficult to attain.




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JR 137
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, OkamiBlack. It seems you have some extensive experience in karate and have some valuable insight into things. You may want to go to the introductions section of the forum and properly introduce yourself and give us some background information.

Regarding your current thread...

I'm not a fan of sport karate for a lot of the reasons you mention. My biggest issues with it are the stop-start nature, and the use of techniques tailored to point fighting that would be ineffective at best in a true fighting/self defense situation. These combined with the obnoxious "gamesmanship" (to keep it polite) make point fighting unwatchable for me.

I competed in a few AAU tournaments in my early 20s. The school I was at wasn't a sport karate school (we were a Kyokushin offshoot), but our sensei encouraged us to participate as a way to get experience fighting different people, under a different rule set, and to experience the pressure competition brings. It was a way to change things up. We competed in a local tournament, then qualified for a regional tournament. If we won that, we'd qualify for a national tournament. Several of us qualified for the national tournament (including me 3 times), but none of us went - we didn't have the time, money, nor motivation to travel from NY to Florida for a point fighting tournament. It just wasn't a priority.

Our sensei held a specific additional class on Saturday afternoon for anyone who wanted to compete. We trained for a solid 2.5-3 hours. No one was forced to go to that class nor stay once they started. We'd typically start about 10 weeks before the first tournament.

I completely empathize with your frustration, but I think you're forgetting some by-products of competition, and most importantly preparing for competition.

At 40 years old, I decided to compete in my current organization's tournament last year. I initially did it because my then 5 and 3 year old daughters wanted to see me compete. After much internal debate, I decided to do it. The actual competition, while it went pretty well, wasn't close to being the highlight. Training for competition gave me a sense of urgency in my training. I didn't train for point fighting specifically; I figured I'd fight the way I do in the dojo and the points will take care of itself. We did point fighting during a specific tournament class that my CI added to the schedule, it that was the extent of it. I didn't train nor compete to the rules; I fought by the rules if that makes any sense. During training, I was forced to address my weaknesses. There was no "I'll start to get in shape tomorrow" "I'll work on that next week" etc. My weaknesses needed to be address appropriately, honestly, and immediately. I only had about 3 months. My cardio, hand speed, timing, footwork, and kicking all improved quite a bit. And I didn't practice throwing that stupid backfist/reverse punch combo that's the bread and butter of point fighting, nor anything remotely resembling stuff like that. I think that hurt my point fighting a bit, but I don't care; I got better. I was basically taking my regular training up several notches.

Same for kata. Our kata must be performed from the syllabus and exactly as described by the syllabus. There's no altering kata to make it look prettier, flashy, dramatic, etc. Basically, it's to be performed as if the head of our organization is testing you on it.

And I forgot to mention - if you do the ridiculousness of yelling and putting your arm up after you think you scored a point, you'll be penalized. Do it again, and you'll be disqualified.

I had a great time at our tournament last year. It was great meeting the people in my organization. I'm pretty sure I'm going to compete again in it this October. If I don't actually compete, I'll train like I'm going to.

I guess it all comes down to why you're competing, how you're preparing, and how the tournament is run.

Here's a link to the thread I started about last year's tournament...
https://www.karateforums.com/tourney-coming-up-vt49646.html
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OkamiBlack
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll get onto the intro soon. Thanks again.

So no, this is not my club, I am a minnow in a bigger environment. I did for for the club for some years and know how the business side works but for a number of reasons, including a dissatisfaction with the business side, I resigned 5 years ago to concentrate on other goals and keep my involvement with the club solely for what it was meant for...training and teaching Karate.

The CI (And founder) is...a nice guy but nearly 70, had some health issues and is effectively retired save for occasional appearances, drop ins and seminars. The Assistant CI is really who runs the club day to day and it seems, has the most influence in the direction and vision on how things ago. Some decisions I don't agree with but on the whole, I do look up to him. He's very fast, very good at what he does.

He has a previous solid track record of competing but I do think he is more traditionally focused than anything, which I appreciate. One of his strongest qualities is in bunkai. He treks to Japan frequently for training and keeping the essence of the old form of Karate in there. The syllabus has changed from time to time (Going for a certain level might mean performing more or less of the techniques to grade than before the change) but there's never been any new additions in all my time, no new katas or new foreign elements from other styles and forms. It has stayed true to the lineage that it came from.

And tournaments are optional. And though he lives interstate anyway and see him only a few times a year, the Assistant CI himself really doesn't talk about tournaments himself that much. It's just more of a culture that has developed and grown by some of the seniors under him and then the more "susceptible" lower instructors and student base that make it such a "thing", than anyone else.

The club has run tournaments since it's inception over 30 yrs ago from the founder himself. It has always been there and left to the decision of the individual if they want to participate or not.

It has been much of my fault for looking at social media over the weekend, knowing that friends, some people I'm close to and peers will go bananas over the event for the second half of last week. I should have tried to stay more away from it.

I DO have a gripe about sports martial arts but I think it's presence that creeps into the dojo, the priority that is takes for some...THAT'S my biggest problem than all. That's what gets my goat more than anything because I don't want it near me and don't want it to infect and reduce the traditionalism of the club in any way. The Assistant CI would never alter things to make it that way knowingly, but being such a large club, you can't control everyone. For as much as the club (Thankfully) really does work hard on promoting itself as one that revolves around good values, characters, respect, discipline, tradition, etc...you're going to have a few mavericks and bad eggs and occasionally they get around and try to do their own thing, incorporate things from outside our system or...just want to do tournament stuff and nothing else.

I know one case of the many state run tournament squads that has relaxed the rules where you can train when you please instead of being required every week to keep your spot...but also it used to be that you were required to still do X amount of regular classes a week so that your kihon and focus towards that stays sound. This too has been relaxed in this case.

That doesn't mean to say that tournament minded people are insidious either . But I kind of feel that some of them would belong more in other clubs given their focus.

There's been a lot going on and for me recently to think about with my own motivation, some lapses of it, goals and some personal things and setbacks and that's also because Karate has been such a massive part of my life and the stability that I depend on if life gets tough. I feel protective of it and wanting it to be a certain way. I should learn to not be too fearful or frustrated at something that I consciously try to minimise my involvement in anyway and hold that hope that the traditional mentality stays strong for the majority.

If anything, it feels cathartic and good to be able to get this off my chest and know that others can see and agree with some of my point of view. It's quite a help. Thanks again.
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Nidan Melbourne
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Existing in a karate club when I'm opposed to sports kar Reply with quote

OkamiBlack wrote:
Hi.

Rant incoming. Asking for feedback.

Backstory: 14 years now teaching/training in current karate club. Sandan (3rd dan) rank. Started for self defence, fitness, confidence, discipline, to reach my black belt - much of the standard reasons.

I've dabbled in tournaments here and there along the way, probably inspired by the original Karate Kid film, which started my whole interest in martial arts to begin with so many years ago. I'm also a qualified judge/ref for my club and pretty good at it.

As the years have gone by, my distaste for sports karate and competitive martial arts leagues (MMA especially too...That's a WHOLE other thing for another day) has grown and grown. If it were up to me, there wouldn't be competition involved whatsoever. Hand to hand combat isn't designed for this, the pursuit for glory, medals, adulation. Even despite this, I have still enjoyed watching footage of the likes of Rafael Aghayev and Junior Leferve in action sometimes.

If people don't want to do tournaments in my club then fine, that's your choice. Some Sensei and students will encourage it strongly, some won't.
I am a traditionalist at heart and always have been. I want to learn the techniques so that I know I can fight. I just feel the priority people place in tournaments is too high. For some, it seems to be their ONLY priority. Yes, everyone DOES start and train for different reasons.

But point sparring is not a realistic reflection of combat, nor are many full contact comps like Kyokushin where you can kick to the head but not punch. The worst part is when fellow Sensei or students (Often the younger ones, preteens - early 20's) bring their point fighting style in dojo kumite, as if that's the only way they know how to fight...instead of separating them. I can't tell you how much I hate bouncing. Yes, of course, you want to be light on your feet and employ tai sabaki (footwork, angles) but again, it's just not combat. And I get frustrated. Not so visibily and outwardly, but it's bugging me. I see the excessive movement with needless, extraneous bouncing and changing feet and angles even when well out of combat range and thinking "What the Hell are you doing?" It is not a one size fits all approach either. There's streetwise self defence, dojo kumite, point fighting. You can't be the same amongst all three. I feel a lot of people don't know how to switch the tournament side of themselves "off".

Our club is holding it's biggest tournament event this weekend and I see friends posting about it all over social media. So much of me rolls my eyes, wants to feel sick. When I have promoted tournaments to students (As hierarchy will dictate) even in my growing disinterest, I have used to angle of confidence building and putting yourself under pressure for kata and kumite with opponents and a crowd. That's how I tried to "live with myself". But those things can be found in class anyway.

There's a part of me that wonders if I am just whining for nothing, like an old man yelling at a cloud (I'm mid 30's, not old). A part of me thinks of the saying "Shhh, let people enjoy things".

But at the same time, I think sports martial arts is diluting the strength, foundation, philosophy, etc of traditional karate and what it should be about in creating good, honourable people with strong values and morals, who have formidable and deadly skills that will hopefully never need to be used to real life...but they're there. To me, tournaments are just another revenue stream. That's my most cynical thought on it.

It's a distraction, a silly, frivolous aspect of the martial arts that feels so flashy, glossy and kind of narcissistic. It takes away from what it really means to be in a real situation where people are really hitting each other and trying to hurt each other. And even if the Karate style has a focus on safety in the dojo which (Unlike the stories of the wilder, tougher 1960's-70's era) it has to to some extent, it's still leagues closer to what real combat is like.

Then there's XMA, the worst of them all...routines that have no combat thought put into what happens in them, sloppy, full bore, one speed, showy crap.

Examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqQWN7X6FLU
Bloody Matt Mullins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG4kSydyp-U

Annnd then there's the habit of people in point fighting who upon scoring (Or trying extra hard to SELL the score) they turn their back to the opponent and draw out their kiai with this insincere yell that goes on for 10 seconds. It's absurd.

Ugh...I could probably rant more. I do value respect and being respectful but there's really no one in the club to talk to, I kind of have to bite my tongue. I just don't believe in martial arts competition and I know it's not going away. And like I said, sometimes I feel so frustrated and so over it but here I am, quietly irritated and stewing, which isn't good for me.

I just wonder what others think and if anyone else feels the same way I do. Do you think tournaments have been a positive addition or a negative to the Karate world and why?


Welcome to the forum.

Point Sparring is only one part of the whole part, even if it is not a realistic form of combat for Self-Defence. As some parts of it, like the lightness on the feet, agility and reaction time.

At Dojos it is the job of the Chief Instructor (CI) to do different types of Kumite, and not just solely one type. At my dojo we do several different types, with each to teach us different ways of fighting. Be it Full Contact, Point, Light Contact etc.

At my dojo we build up the types of sparring, over time so everyone is able to learn the skills required and also by the time they are adults and at Black Belt Level, you are able to do full contact.

Why do you ask? Because it would be considered dangerous if we allowed 10 Year Olds doing Full Contact Sparring that don't understand how to adjust with their partners and also how to do certain skills/techniques with safety.

As I saw one dojo (they are no longer open), that only allowed full contact sparring with no restrictions to location of where people are able to strike. And the Sensei's logic was that it will prepare the students for a Self-Defence Situation. What happened? People got injured and law suits happened (which all got settled through Mediation).
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And our classes incorporate different types of kumite too...ippon, randori, jyu. For the majority, like kyu grades, it'll be at a non contact level. Higher grades allow for more.

I'm not implying because I hate point fighting that I'm asking for the other extreme of full contact. That's a huge leap. Of course there has to be training to build a student's confidence and understanding of range and control. Actually, regrettably I see a lot of student's thrown into sparring in their earliest experiences without the rules being clearly defined or instruction on how kumite works...by starting off with drills, shadow sparring, basic stuff first. Hell, sometimes I find higher grades unaware of rules that I thought were commonly known until I bring them up. "What do you mean I can't do hook kicks under brown belt?"

But I don't think the start / stop tag method of points is the way to do it. Where combinations hardly really get a place because the ref will quickly halt the bout at the earliest sign of a score. Footwork, agility, speed...all can still be worked on through the usual kumite methods in the dojo.

Plus, think of how Karate is represented and misrepresented. It's coming to the Olympics in a few years. (Waste of time) The whole world is going to see a skewed, small perspective of a much larger canvass of what we do. Which actually leads me to wonder something. I honestly have not been following the Karate/Olympics campaign much but I guess point fighting will be the main format right? Assuming that is the case...martial arts clubs often look to capitalize on whatever publicity they can to boost enrollments, take advantage of the peak interest generated by the exposure it gets on TV, etc.

Movies, sporting events, etc...it happens. I joined another Karate style as a child right after I saw The Karate Kid...yeah, because as an impressionable 5 yr old I thought winning a big tournament and having Elizabeth Shue as my girlfriend was 100% appealing. So you're going to have people, lots of kids probably, take interest in Karate after watching the Olympics. Nothing inherently bad about that. But if it IS point fighting, then that is what they will expect. What happens when they get to whatever dojo they choose? Disappointment that they don't get to jump into sparring right away and they have to stand there, doing basics...possibly become disinterested and drop out? Hopefully instead they fall in love with it no matter how simple their start is. Or, perhaps will their chosen dojo compromise on tradition and skew more towards competition and a sports karate focus to weave into beginner's training, expecting a wave of post Olympics sign ups? Just some thoughts to throw out there.
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