Anyone know why Karate tradtionally doesnt allow punches to the head?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Rat, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    It also depends what the martial art wants to see happen in fights.

    So if you want to see high kicking, because that is what you do, you allow high kicks in competition.

    This happens a bit with things like limiting ground time to promote throws but discourage ground work.

    There are even competitions that say you have to throw X amount of kicks per round.

    Otherwise I can see why head strikes bare knuckle are discouraged. People would come out of fights looking carved up.

    Most people I know who have done bare knuckle suggest it really isn't safer because people don't hit as hard.
     
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  2. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    The issue with that, and i think people can agree, is if they stop you from doing something useful/common in what the martial art is for. eg if they claim its for self defence and dont let you punch the face often in sparring. It just means literally anyone is going to sucker punch you as you forget head punches are a thing.


    Bareknuckles also gets a unsupringly big amount of flak. Its kind of amusing. If you dont have pillows protecting your hands you tend to choose targets better and wont just power punch somone in the forehead 10 times. (actually the same thing happens there, because people are used to pillows on their hands they power punch people in the forehead forgetting it can easily break your hand)

    See i used to apply boxing (with the gloves) logic to a heavy bag, you can see what is going to happen there, instead of what you should do bare handed on one and thats use it as more of a technique device, and that would have been down to my exposure to just seeing people in gloves whale (is that how its spelt i forgot) on it. Or those 60 year old iron body people break wood on their testicles. And we all know there are plenty of people who dictate that you can only do this that or the other, i have had the same issue with fitness things, instead of viewing it as do anything to burn calories and keep your body moving, you have to do this, or lift this amount without any prior lifting experience etc.

    Kind of a ramblily response.

    @Flying Crane Its a conditoning thing. If you build a habit into stopping fighting because you get punched in the face, its a issue if you want the thing for combat/self defence. I dont know how much the bunkai etc would mitigate it becoming a habit, but some places are sport focused and use self defence as a marketing ploy anyway. (and obviously this only applies to the ones that restrict head punches in sparring a lot)
     
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  3. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    See the issue with this response is thinking tradtional karate is the same as a tradtion IN karate.

    Now going back to my first post, the only bit that i would say is quite ambigious, is my annotation in my addendum. I use "tradtional/tradtionally" and that could be read as me meaning tradtional karate. That is the only part that i can see as being mis read to mean tradtional karate, not a tradtion IN karate.

    And then i correct that with the first sentence of my second post with stating i meant modern. (and by exenstion the ones that dont practise punching to the head in sparring)


    Now for your first reply about a flawed premise, what premise is flawed? I was not making a argument, i was asking a question as to why the karate that doesnt do head punches, doesnt do it.

    I am only replying to this to clear up some issues and because several people at least in part agreed with you at least in principle. So its closer to clearing it up for muiltiple persons and i also think my statement is being presented as more flawed than it actually is.


    (i probbly missed out on a dozen points i wanted to make in my re writings of this)
     
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  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    You need to take ownership of your own training. Practices in class have parameters which are often set for the sake of safety. If you cannot see the possibilities beyond those parameters, then the training has done you no good. You need to open your own eyes. You need to conduct your own practice to explore what is possible, beyond what is done in class. Showing up at class and following along is not enough. That only teaches you to follow instructions. It does not teach you how to own what you have learned.

    You need to take what you have learned and experiment with it outside of class, in your own practice. Class time gives you examples of what is possible, but is not the total of what you are allowed to do nor of what you must do. You have to figure that out for yourself.
     
  5. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    Yeah, control tells a lot about you. I mean I ate for years before competing....I never bit anyone's ear off in the ring.
     
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  6. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    The other way of looking at it, is that ruleset promote an emphasis on particular skills. I would argue that the answer isn’t to eliminate rules. Rather, it would be to encourage participation in more diverse rulesets.

    For example, a judoka could compete only in judo competitions, which would allow him/her to really hone throwing and pinning techniques, and defenses. He or she could also compete in BJJ Gi tournaments, to hone ground technique, submissions, and defenses. He could also compete in no-Gi tournaments, submission only tournaments, and a host of other rulesets, each focusing on different sides.

    And, if he wanted to be even more well rounded, he could train Sumo, wrestling, or another grappling art. And, if that’s not enough, he could train and compete in a striking art, like boxing, TKD, Savate, Kyokushin Karate, or Muay Thai. And if that’s not enough, there are various competitive rulesets up to and including MMA that synthesize all of this.

    sure, it’s true that the rulesets focus the training, and folks will “teach to the test.” But this isn’t an argument against the tests; it’s a commentary on the lack of imagination of those creating the tests. Simply put, if the test is inadequate, you don’t stop testing; the answer is to make the tests better.

    @Tony Dismukes is the perfect example of well rounded.
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    visualization can only take one so far, though.
     
  8. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    People said this before bare knuckle went mainstream.

    Now not so much.



    And the traditional sources for these kinds of statements haven't suddenly appeared and cleaned up in the bare knuckle circuits.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2020
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You seem to be proceeding from a false understanding on this. I've only a smattering of Karate training, and every place I trained (all 3) definitely taught punching to the head. That's all 30-40 years ago, so not some recent uptick in the practice.

    I think you're probably getting this from sparring rules in some organizations (like Kyokushin). Sparring rules don't necessarily represent what is taught (unless the school/instructor focuses only on what's useful for that competition format).
     
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  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, the term is pretty vague. Which tradition? Whatever is done today (even if it's brand new) will become "traditional" if it sticks around long enough. I think most folks who use the term have a pretty clear concept (though maybe not a hard-and-fast definition) in mind, but it's probably not the same concept from person to person.
     
  11. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    it seems to be at least partly a pejorative term, id not heard it before i came on here, its just seems to lump all the eastern ma in one ''semi useless..'' pigeon hole
     
  12. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    I've been in a lot of Karate schools, mostly in New England, Californian, Hawaii and Florida, but in other places as well. I've been in more dojos that do allow contact to the head as opposed to those that do not. Control is the key. Heck, even in boxing gyms, nobody is trying to kill each other, or knock each other out. There are exceptions, sure, but they are just that, exceptions.

    I think the reason some schools do not allow head contact is that's the way they were originally taught by somebody else. And I think part of it goes to the old joke, "How many Karate teachers does it take to change a light bulb?"

    Answer - "Change? You want to change something? Nooooo!"

    I'm actually horrified when I read about broken cheekbones requiring surgery that came from dojo sparring. I don't even know what to say to that. For forty years we had head contact in sparring, but never had anything remotely close to something like that. Black eyes, sure, some broken noses, cracked ribs, but fighting is a contact sport. To me, the KEY is teaching people control. And control isn't some mamby pamby way of hitting lightly. Proper control teaches how to hit as lightly or as heavily as you want, as your current level of skill allows.

    My kids classes always had head contact. And there weren't any injuries to speak of. And, yes, their parents were there watching. We were always very careful with kids. I'm sure everyone here is, too. When one of the kids got a bloody nose we would all rush over and excitedly say "what color is it, what color is it?!?! They'd look and say "red?" We'd all cheer, address the bleeding and tell them "red is good. If it ever comes out chartreuse or orange that's not good." This, of course, would usually lead to them asking "What's chartreuse?"

    To which we'd reply, "That's your homework for tonight, next class you tell us what it is." And in the course of about twenty seconds the kid really didn't care about blood coming out of their nose. Or ever again for that matter. If it happened again, they'd say, "It's red, coach, I'm good!" And the parents? They loved it.

    We allowed groin contact as well. The way we looked at it was, if you were going to be throwing head kicks, you damn well better know how to protect your groin while you were doing it. Wearing a cup under your uniform was mandatory in every single class. If you didn't want to do that, that was okay too, just train some place else, no worries.

    Heck, back in the day the majority of point tournaments we went to allowed groin contact as scoring a point.

    To us, throwing a punch to the head and pulling it before it connected was the equivalent of learning to shoot a gun and purposely missing the target.

    And to reiterate, the injuries in our school were far lower than other schools. Especially the ones that didn't allow head contact. I believe the reason for that was in those schools head and face contact was accidental. It's very difficult to control accidents.
     
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  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    From some, it is. But not always. I consider what I teach to be TMA, though many in more traditional arts would disagree.
     
  14. Duss D Gnutz

    Duss D Gnutz White Belt

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    Are you guys really using jodan zukis in your katas to refute the OP's assertion that karate dojos generally don't allow head contact?

    Anyway... if I had to guess, the reason why karate generally doesn't allow it is because most dojos wouldn't be able keep their doors open if they did. Think of karate's target market: people who are either there to learn self defense, or for reasons not directly related to fighting.

    Very few people choose karate with the intent of becoming a "trained fighter." Those with that intent are the ones willing to take hits to the head, and they're likely going to look at boxing, Muay Thai, etc - a martial art whose end goal is to create "trained fighters."
     
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  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    My training for striking mostly was learning not to make contact. It took me years to unlearn bad habits from that. So now I teach with contact, including to the head, from the beginning.
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    @Duss D Gnutz, any idea what you disliked about this reasonably moderate statement?
     
  17. Duss D Gnutz

    Duss D Gnutz White Belt

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    It was an accident. I undid it.
     
  18. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    There’s also the accepted falsehood that Kyokushin guys don’t strike to the head. The ONLY time they don’t strike to the head is when preparing to compete in a Kyokushin tournament.

    Every other time they’ll take your, or each other’s, head off with punches.
     
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  19. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well yes and no, being punched in the head on a regular basis is bad, i dont think thats a debatable statement, if your good enough at an art so that doesnt happen very often, then its fine to run with that, but the other guy is getting damaged so its far from rosy for him

    i dont think its the hardest thing in the world to practice with control but then ramp that up if you need to actually hit someone full force

    its possible to make a case that this leaves you with some degree of vulnerability, and that may be so, but its risk and reward, inevitable brain damage against a little loss of punching efficiency, seem a fair trade off

    i met a guy whilst training the other day, who had fought national competitions at MT, he was clearly extremely fit for someone in their 40s, but had also clearly had his mental facilities degraded by this, he was showing me his numerous scars from being hit with elbows. i had no doubt he could beat me up if he took a dislike to me, which fortunately he didn't, still think i got the better end of this deal ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
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  20. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Yep most do have it. Kyokushin is the only one that I know of that doesn’t allow punches to the head but they still do it in training just not competition123
     

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