I have trained in martial arts for a couple of years now, and the place I train we do multiple martial arts including Bushidokan Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Boxing/Kickboxing, and Ronin Goshin Jutsu (which is a street self defense and weapons disarming/tactics art). I hesitate to say that we do MMA because, although we incorporate what we learn from each art into the others, we train in each Separate art as opposed to one "mixed bag" art, which I feel has become synonymous with MMA (no offense if you train MMA, I'm just making a point to further expand upon my question). I really enjoy watching and learning from other arts as I feel that each has its own strengths and weaknesses and alot of them compliment each other nicely. I hold no art form above another or think that one is superior for any particular reason. That being said, I have a question. As we do incorporate what we learn from each art into the others and as we have an emphasis on kickboxing (at least for the sport side of our training), one thing that we are told on a very regular basis and that is pounded into our head over and over and over again is "Keep your hands up!". Protect your head at all times (I'm speaking mostly about sport training, but even in street self defense situations where we use mainly karate strikes, unless of course there is a weapon or something involved and you have to resort to other means, as street situations require an extreme level of adaptability). But for the most part we always keep our hands up. Now, we do katas and such and I understand that certain techniques have specific hand movements that accompany them, but when we are training on a bag or shadow boxing or sparring, its Always hands at temples if not being thrown, and directly back afterwards. So my question is, and of course I only know what I've seen and learned from observation so forgive my ignorance, how come when I watch alot of sparring videos or demos the hands seem to be more worried about the next strike then protection. Specifically I seem to see this alot in TKD. Now don't get me wrong, I really respect you TKD guys, you have some of the most amazing kicks I've seen (and felt, lol) and some of the best fighters I know train in that art, but it seems that the hand protecting the head is just not common place among the sport. Same with alot of karate matches I see (although I know that with karate they keep the stance at a position as to keep there head hopefully out of reach and there hand cocked and ready to deliver a strike, and maybe its the same with TKD and similar arts). I understand that these are primarily point fighting systems and so maybe the hands are felt more necessary for balance than protection, but when we train our kicks (which are mostly karate kicks), we are still told to always keep our hands up and to force ourselves to learn to keep our balance during our techniques while staying protected. It seems to me that when you throw kicks in the traditional manner during sparring or competition, you are leaving an opportunity for your opponent to step in and crown the kick and get a free head shot if you are not protected. We had a TKD guy from Texas come up and spar with us the other day and, although he had amazing kicks and literally kicked my butt (he was damn good), it seemed to me that if I could get around his kicks and get in close I would have an open target (that only happened about once the whole time because he was so quick, but had I been a better fighter or had better timing I think that could have left him fairly vulnerable). So I'm not trying to poke holes in anybodies system and I didn't mean to call out Karate and TKD specifically, those are just the sports I've seen the most of, but I would really like to know what you guys think about this. Is it just a balance thing, and do you think it really adds more power? And if so, does it add enough more power to the extent that it makes up for leaving an opening for your opponent? Thanks for your replies!!!