So we’re sending our students out to fight in another style of karate this coming December 2017. Every martial art has its own kumite (sparring) rules and this is of no exception. For example; Taekwondo competitions are point based and rewards speedy high kicks rather than punches. Sports karate competitions focus on speed and accuracy of technique and penalizes usage of extreme power. Our own style of Kyokushin, prides itself on knockout power. While certain branches of aikido do not have kumite competitions.
A decade back, individual martial arts often kept to themselves. If you were Taekwondo, you stuck with Taekwondo fraternity, from seminars to competitions. Those who learned multiple styles of martial arts were frowned upon or labelled traitors. However times change. With the advent of mixed martial arts, a fighter who cross trains has an added advantage. Cross training enables you to combine the forte of each martial art and use it to fortify your own arsenal of techniques. A word of caution however. If you are learning a striking martial art, it is foolhardy to learn another striking martial art. For example, if you were in one style of Karate and in the spirit of ‘kiasu’-ness (fear of losing out), you pick up another style of karate, thinking that mathematically it would ‘double’ up your skills. What results is a confusion of techniques especially if your foundation is not solid enough. The ideal cross training would be to first focus on having a solid core/foundation (karate for example) and then fortify your ground work with BJJ, for example; and your head movement with boxing. Most people are content with learning just one.
As martial arts evolve, the new generation of masters and instructors are more open towards this idea of cross training. A natural progression to that would be to cross-compete. Compete in another martial art tournament according to their rules. The goal of this practice is not to win, although that would be a preferred and pleasant outcome. Rather the purpose is to get a feel of fighting people outside your comfort zone.
When you train karate, your only exposure when you fight is against people who train karate too. The techniques are familiar, you fight people who are about the same build and stature. But when you compete in another martial art tournament, you force yourself out of your comfort zone. There is no predicting how the other guy is going to come at you although you can have a rough estimation based on his style. In doing so, you adapt and evolve your own fighting style to face different styles of fighters. Rather than freezing in the ring due to surprise/fear at facing the unknown, we train our students to be always prepared to overcome not only their opponents, but more importantly to overcome and even surpass themselves.
With this reason in mind, Kyokushin-kan Malaysia has sent its fighters to competitions such as Muay Thai and Taekwondo. Students learn the hard way that sometimes the leg is truly longer than the hand, that some martial arts have very different footwork and fighting distances; and it pays to guard your head. We sometimes lose terribly with scores so bad that Sensei cringes, but every lost is a gain of experience and assurance that we do not bring the same weakness back into the ring the next time around. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised at the devastating impact of our punches and we wonder naively why the opponent is gasping for breath after a single sita tsuki to the solar plexus.
Most old masters would shake their heads in negativity when invited to open martial art tournaments.
“We’re not ready, not enough training”
“Parents don’t want their kids to be injured”
“Their rules are not the same”
This is what most would say to give an easy out for themselves. But deep down, a small voice questions them.
“What if my martial art loses? Where will I put my face?”
“Will my students switch to other martial art?”
Shihan wants all our students to be ready, to face anybody, at anytime. Which is why, at every tournament opportunity, circumstances withstanding; we do our best to send representatives.
This December 17, we are sending 13 fighters to Malaysia Koshiki Karate Open Championship. A point-based karate system that allows full punches to the head. We will be encumbered by the thick bogu (vest), our vision and breathing will be encumbered by the head gear, but we will persevere and do the best we can.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there is no ego in martial arts. There is no ONE supreme martial art, but the martial art itself is defined by its practitioners.
PS: If anybody’s interested, please participate in this tournament. Hope to see you soon!