For the Shotokan folks--adding full-contact to Shotokan?

Mitlov

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With MMA becoming increasingly popular, and with Lyoto Machida being (for some, including me) Shotokan's new poster-boy, are any other Shotokan karateka interested in incorporating more (or for that matter any) full-contact continuous kumite training into Shotokan? I'm not trying to replace light-contact point-stop kumite, which I understand has deep roots in ikken hisatsu and all that, but instead supplement it.

I understand that some dojos have inside-the-dojo jiyu kumite that can get quite physical (mine does not), but I see aggressive-but-still-somewhat cooperative jiyu kumite as fundamentally different than competitive sparring where you either (1) throw on a bit of protective gear so you don't kill each other (i.e., Kudo or Sanshou), or (2) restrict the target area so you don't kill each other (i.e., Kyokushin). I don't think it should be mandatory--some Shotokan karateka may be too old or too young or just plain not interested--but I think that sort of competition formally adopted into Shotokan could really benefit the art.

Lyoto Machida has complained that nobody recognizes knee strikes as karate, even though it's in the kata. That's partly because they have no use in competitive kumite under the current Shotokan rules. I think some form of full-contact continuous sparring would help Shotokan karateka explore the full range of techniques in kata.

Anyway, just some musings. What do other karateka say?
 

twendkata71

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Well for me I have trained at some Shotokan dojo where the sparring was mostly full contact, but with pads.
On a side note. Koei Kan dojo's do full contact kumite with bogu.
 

Grenadier

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With MMA becoming increasingly popular, and with Lyoto Machida being (for some, including me) Shotokan's new poster-boy,

I disagree on this. While he may be a hero to some who practice Shotokan Karate and follow the MMA games, the real poster boys are the usual names that are still around. Kanazawa Sensei, Okazaki Sensei, Mikami Sensei, etc., are still the faces of Shotokan Karate to this date.

Still, I guess it's a bit odd, referring to them as "poster boys," given their ages...

People who want to do MMA will do what they will. I doubt that many MMA training schools will want to incorporate Shotokan Karate into their programs, since it takes a decent amount of time to get the proficiencies. This is why most such schools focus on boxing and wrestling, since such arts take less time to learn, and the combination of those two arts can give your average competitor more than enough of a skillset for anyone wishing to engage in such competitions.

I don't think it should be mandatory--some Shotokan karateka may be too old or too young or just plain not interested--but I think that sort of competition formally adopted into Shotokan could really benefit the art.


Most of your people in a typical Shotokan dojo aren't going to want to engage in full contact, continuous sparring. For that matter, Funakoshi Sensei wasn't that much of a supporter of such actions. I doubt that the Shotokan Karate systems, regardless of whether they are ISKA, SKIF, or JKA, are going to change their ideals.

You're right, that if you drive everyone to engage in full contact fighting, you're going to lose a lot of people. If people want to do full contact fighting on a regular basis, then they should have looked for a style that practices things in such a way, such as the Kyokushinkai or Enshin systems.

Remember, though, I'm referring to your "typical" student in the dojo. Having a student like Lyoto Machida is certainly going to be the exception to the rule...
 

Daniel Sullivan

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With MMA becoming increasingly popular, and with Lyoto Machida being (for some, including me) Shotokan's new poster-boy, are any other Shotokan karateka interested in incorporating more (or for that matter any) full-contact continuous kumite training into Shotokan? I'm not trying to replace light-contact point-stop kumite, which I understand has deep roots in ikken hisatsu and all that, but instead supplement it.

I understand that some dojos have inside-the-dojo jiyu kumite that can get quite physical (mine does not), but I see aggressive-but-still-somewhat cooperative jiyu kumite as fundamentally different than competitive sparring where you either (1) throw on a bit of protective gear so you don't kill each other (i.e., Kudo or Sanshou), or (2) restrict the target area so you don't kill each other (i.e., Kyokushin). I don't think it should be mandatory--some Shotokan karateka may be too old or too young or just plain not interested--but I think that sort of competition formally adopted into Shotokan could really benefit the art.

Lyoto Machida has complained that nobody recognizes knee strikes as karate, even though it's in the kata. That's partly because they have no use in competitive kumite under the current Shotokan rules. I think some form of full-contact continuous sparring would help Shotokan karateka explore the full range of techniques in kata.

Anyway, just some musings. What do other karateka say?
Perhaps as a full contact class for those who are interested?

At this point, it would have to be an in school initiative; as Grenadier pointed out, the recognized Shotokan organizations are not going to change in this regard.

That being the case, the school would have to devise a set of rules to facilitate it.

Do participants pad up or limit the target area? Just for the record, UFC rules do limit the target area.

Are legal strikes expanded to include more or all of what is included in the kata, such as knee strikes and elbow strikes?

Those questions and certainly others would have to be answered and worked out.

Daniel
 
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Mitlov

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Grenadier--

I said Machida was a poster-boy for some, not for all. I think there's going to be a lot of interest and respect for Machida, his tai sabaki, and his training methods among 18-35 year old guys. In my experience, other karateka tend to look at him with a mix of idle curiosity and contempt.

Funakoshi Sensei wasn't that much of a supporter of such actions.

Funakoshi was opposed to ANY competitive sparring, regardless of whether it was light-contact or full-contact, point-stop or continuous. The JKA has ignored his views on competitive sparring since around the time of his death...why turn around now and say "Funakoshi wouldn't have approved of this particular form of kumite"?

You're right, that if you drive everyone to engage in full contact fighting, you're going to lose a lot of people. If people want to do full contact fighting on a regular basis, then they should have looked for a style that practices things in such a way, such as the Kyokushinkai or Enshin systems.

I never said I was going to drive everyone to do this. By supplementing shobu ippon kumite instead of replacing it, I meant that it would be available for Shotokan karateka who were so inclined, but not mandatory.

(If you're asking why I personally am training in Shotokan instead of Kyokushin and Enshin, the answer is simple, and not an uncommon one...Shotokan IS available where I live, whereas knockdown karate ISN'T).

Shotokan, more than other arts, tries to offer something for everyone. My question is, aren't "athletic sparring-oriented young men" one category of people to serve when you're trying to offer something for everyone? Particularly in organizations that restrict or ban free-sparring among kyu ranks, I feel that Shotokan sometimes feels more like "something for everyone...except those people who are interested in free-sparring with significant contact."

Daniel Sullivan--

That being the case, the school would have to devise a set of rules to facilitate it.

Do participants pad up or limit the target area? Just for the record, UFC rules do limit the target area.

Are legal strikes expanded to include more or all of what is included in the kata, such as knee strikes and elbow strikes?

I do know that the UFC limits target areas, and I would expect any sort of full-contact karate to do the same. No throat strikes, strikes to the back of the head, eye gouges, hits to the knee, and groin strikes are obvious starting points.

I certainly would like to see some knees and elbows from the clinch.

To prevent people from getting seriously hurt, I think some bogu would be appropriate. I'd suggest MMA gloves, a Kudo-style helmet, and perhaps (not sure on this last point) a Sanshou-style chest protector.
 

TigerCraneGuy

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While I do love Machida's style, I have since read an article about the Orange Grove dojo in South Africa, and how it's been doing full-contact fighting for a long time already. Apparently, these guys are hardcore, and the training is so rough that many opt to leave after witnessing the 'festivities'.

Don't do Shotokan, but I just thought this might interest you guys.

Regards,
TCG
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Back in the day most of the Shotokan guy's I knew were going full contact.
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Grenadier

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(If you're asking why I personally am training in Shotokan instead of Kyokushin and Enshin, the answer is simple, and not an uncommon one...Shotokan IS available where I live, whereas knockdown karate ISN'T).

Good enough reason, since you have to take what you can get. I was not aware that you didn't have any such schools in your area.

Shotokan, more than other arts, tries to offer something for everyone. My question is, aren't "athletic sparring-oriented young men" one category of people to serve when you're trying to offer something for everyone?

Let me give you some insight from an instructor's point of view.

When you teach a class, 20% of your students are going to be so good, that they'll "get it," no matter how bad of an instructor one may be. 20% of your students will never "get it," no matter how good of an instructor one may be. The remaining 60% can "get it," but need help from the instructor.

If you catered to the top 20%, you're going to be helping a group that doesn't need much help, and that the bulk of your students aren't going to be getting as much help as they should be getting.

If you catered to the bottom 20%, then you may be able to bring a few out of that 20%, into the middle 60%, but what about the other middle 60% of people that you didn't cater?

That's why instructors will focus on the middle 60%, if they want their dojos to survive.

How does this relate to your situation? It's a bit of a stretch, but imagine this: how many of a dojo's populace will actually want to do full contact continual sparring? If, as in instructor, you introduce such things into a dojo, you'll certainly make a small percentage of people happy (the young, strong athletes who don't mind full contact), but what about the others?
 
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Mitlov

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Grenadier,

Thanks for the post. You asked about my situation. I train at a small dojo, about a half-dozen regulars. A couple would probably be happy if they only ever did kihon and kata. A few seem to have some interest in occasional light-contact shobu ippon kumite, but that's it. While I haven't gone around polling people, my understanding is that I'm the only one at the dojo right now who is inclined to throw on some gloves, a gumshield, a cup, and "throw down" from time to time with a training partner. On the other hand, I have a coworker and friend who said he would be interested in learning karate, but when he learned that we never really "threw down" (my words, not his, but his sentiment), he changed his mind.

You raise a fair point about class membership. You would lose some people, sure. On the other hand, you would gain others. Imagine a spectrum between boxing (appeals to a narrow segment of the population, but teaches useful fighting skills in a practical, quick-to-learn manner) and tai chi chuan (frequently a "martial" art in name only nowadays, teaching the body mechanics of fighting without ever really teaching fighting itself, but is user-friendly to people of all ages and fitness levels). I guess the two questions that come up when we're talking about class membership and the like are (1) where is Shotokan right now on that spectrum, and (2) where do we want it to be?

Personally, I would like to see it halfway in between (whereas I'd put knockdown karate at 3/4 of the way to boxing), though I feel that my current dojo is 3/4 of the way to tai chi. I would like to think that by staying halfway in between boxing and tai chi, Shotokan could attract more of the top 20% you describe, without alienating too many of the middle 60%.
 
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Mitlov

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Back in the day most of the Shotokan guy's I knew were going full contact.
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I've heard this a lot, though I'm too young to have experienced it first-hand. It seems to me, from what I've read, though, that karate started out as a fighting art in Okinawa, that Shotokan moved away from that sort of thing during Funakoshi's generation, that Shotokan moved back towards a lot of hard contact and athletic, aggressive young men from maybe the 60s to the 80s, and that Shotokan is now moving away from that again. I wonder if anything in particular has changed, or if these things just tend to ebb and flow like that?
 

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I've heard this a lot, though I'm too young to have experienced it first-hand. It seems to me, from what I've read, though, that karate started out as a fighting art in Okinawa, that Shotokan moved away from that sort of thing during Funakoshi's generation, that Shotokan moved back towards a lot of hard contact and athletic, aggressive young men from maybe the 60s to the 80s, and that Shotokan is now moving away from that again. I wonder if anything in particular has changed, or if these things just tend to ebb and flow like that?

I think the risk of litigation , and cost of insurance "softened" Karate in the 80s , the more i read the more i get the feeling that i'm lucky to be in the UK , as there's always somewhere fairly close by to "throwdown" , this seems less common in the US.
 

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I hate to dredge up an old thread, but I think this one is important. . .

I think that harder-than-light contact has been lost in most traditional styles, which is quite unfortunate.

I don't personally come from a Shotokan background, but I'd like to see all traditional styles--whether it's Karate, TKD or Kung Fu--move toward really STRIKING people. Personally, I'd vote for either a) full contact with gloves and headgear (and if necessary a chest protector), or b) maybe 70% contact to the body and 30% to the head with gloves and foot pads.

Neither will satisfy the "full contact with no protective gear" crowd, but I think that both are superior to the sad situation which is permeating most traditional schools at this point.
 

Tez3

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There's plenty of full contact going on in traditional karate in clubs here that I know, there's still full contact competitions going on as well.
 

DerekMMA

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I completely agree that traditional Shotokan/the JKA should incorporate knockdown kumite. We are in an age where MMA is increasing in popularity and more practitioners are studying brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. Although Karate focuses much on spirtuality in addition to the physical exercise, I believe the JKA should offer something to the young people who are looking into MMA as well. This group may end up being a small percentage, but I see nothing wrong with that. Everyone would get a piece of the pie. The practitioners who are practicing for health, kata, kumite, or knockdown kumite will have their choice.

Many view traditional Karate-Do as weak and ineffective nowadays. Though no Sensei or organization has to prove these people wrong, I think it allows those who wish to train as Lyoto and Chinzo Machida do that opportunity. I for one have grown up practicing Karate. I'm 25 years old, but I would love nothing more than to engage in knockdown karate. I myself am the type who wants to take his body to the limit in a physical and spiritual sense. I also believe it would instill more confidence in a person who ends up in a confrontation on the street. In those situations you honestly need a killer instinct. Karate isn't viewed as having that killer instinct to go into a fight and actually coming out alive. Even Lyoto has shown that he does not have a killer instinct to finish matches as Shogun Rua or Jon Jones does. However, Karate has the potential to offer MMA fighters a lot in timing and footwork.

In my opinion, the JKA and everyone else needs to change or I fear Karate will truly become obsolete, or good only for the elderly. Just my opinion.
 

kbarrett

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I've always thought Shotokan did make contact when sparring, I've sparred with many Shotokan parctitioners in the past and we always made contact just not to the face, but back fists, ridge hands to the side of the head were allowed, but like any good sparring things happen, just bow and continue sparring. I think most MA don't allow face contact mainly becuase most people work, most employers don't want to see their employee with black eyes, busted lips, or bruised faces, thats my feeling on the subject.

Ken
 

Tez3

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I completely agree that traditional Shotokan/the JKA should incorporate knockdown kumite. We are in an age where MMA is increasing in popularity and more practitioners are studying brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. Although Karate focuses much on spirtuality in addition to the physical exercise, I believe the JKA should offer something to the young people who are looking into MMA as well. This group may end up being a small percentage, but I see nothing wrong with that. Everyone would get a piece of the pie. The practitioners who are practicing for health, kata, kumite, or knockdown kumite will have their choice.

Many view traditional Karate-Do as weak and ineffective nowadays. Though no Sensei or organization has to prove these people wrong, I think it allows those who wish to train as Lyoto and Chinzo Machida do that opportunity. I for one have grown up practicing Karate. I'm 25 years old, but I would love nothing more than to engage in knockdown karate. I myself am the type who wants to take his body to the limit in a physical and spiritual sense. I also believe it would instill more confidence in a person who ends up in a confrontation on the street. In those situations you honestly need a killer instinct. Karate isn't viewed as having that killer instinct to go into a fight and actually coming out alive. Even Lyoto has shown that he does not have a killer instinct to finish matches as Shogun Rua or Jon Jones does. However, Karate has the potential to offer MMA fighters a lot in timing and footwork.

In my opinion, the JKA and everyone else needs to change or I fear Karate will truly become obsolete, or good only for the elderly. Just my opinion.


Most MMA fighters I know come from a karate or TKD background, you are speaking as if MMA fighters have never done traditional arts. I'm not sure why MMA is dredged up everytime someone wants to make comments about TMA's being ineffective etc etc. MMA is what it says it is...MIXED MARTIAL arts, that is TMA's mixed together, do you think we know nothing about TMA's? karate offer MMA fighters alot? Der! I think we may know that already! please don't talk down to us, y9u are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs here I'm afraid.

Killer instinct my ****...you do realise MMA is a competitive sport you know, like boxing? Why would you need to display a 'killer instinct' in a competition, the aim is to win not kill or even disable your opponent, you do this with skill and techniques not brute force and ignorance.

Karate will not become obsolete nor for the elderly. It does have much to offer and many MMA people already know this. Perhaps your MMA is boxing and wrestling but most peoples isn't, it's TMA's mixed together to make a good competitive fighting system.
 

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Most MMA fighters I know come from a karate or TKD background, you are speaking as if MMA fighters have never done traditional arts. I'm not sure why MMA is dredged up everytime someone wants to make comments about TMA's being ineffective etc etc. MMA is what it says it is...MIXED MARTIAL arts, that is TMA's mixed together, do you think we know nothing about TMA's? karate offer MMA fighters alot? Der! I think we may know that already! please don't talk down to us, y9u are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs here I'm afraid.

Killer instinct my ****...you do realise MMA is a competitive sport you know, like boxing? Why would you need to display a 'killer instinct' in a competition, the aim is to win not kill or even disable your opponent, you do this with skill and techniques not brute force and ignorance.

Karate will not become obsolete nor for the elderly. It does have much to offer and many MMA people already know this. Perhaps your MMA is boxing and wrestling but most peoples isn't, it's TMA's mixed together to make a good competitive fighting system.
Killer Instinct is a kind of slang used in Boxing/Kickboxing/MMA for People who know when to go in to finish someone off. Im not sure if thats the context He was using it in but.

As regard to the overall statement; All I have to say is, Kickboxing is based on Karate. Most MMA teaches Kickboxing.
Traditional Martial Arts are completely functional. The problem is that alot of People confuse TMAs to People claiming to teach a Traditional System, and People teaching it poorly.
 

Tez3

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Killer Instinct is a kind of slang used in Boxing/Kickboxing/MMA for People who know when to go in to finish someone off. Im not sure if thats the context He was using it in but.

As regard to the overall statement; All I have to say is, Kickboxing is based on Karate. Most MMA teaches Kickboxing.
Traditional Martial Arts are completely functional. The problem is that alot of People confuse TMAs to People claiming to teach a Traditional System, and People teaching it poorly.

No kidding? Imagine all those years I have in MMA etc and not know that....yeah that's sarcastic because it's just a naff way of trying to sell a fighter or slag him off, basically a meaningless expression. It's used by armchair fans, along with 'kill him', 'war' and 'stand up'. An indication of ignorance. Learning karate will not give you a 'killer instinct'. if you win your fight, you win, you don't need more than that.

As I said many fighters here come from a karate/TKD background, their standup reflects that.
 

Cyriacus

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No kidding? Imagine all those years I have in MMA etc and not know that....yeah that's sarcastic because it's just a naff way of trying to sell a fighter or slag him off, basically a meaningless expression. It's used by armchair fans, along with 'kill him', 'war' and 'stand up'. An indication of ignorance. Learning karate will not give you a 'killer instinct'. if you win your fight, you win, you don't need more than that.

As I said many fighters here come from a karate/TKD background, their standup reflects that.
I misinterprited You, My mistake.
 

Tez3

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I misinterprited You, My mistake.

No worries!

Here at least MMAers are trying very hard to promote their sport as what it is ...martial arts. In the early days it was all blood and 'killing machines', it got publicity but to our mind the wrong sort now we are trying to show people it's not 'cage fighting' it's martial arts. If someone tells you here they are a cage fighter, they're not. :)
DerekMMA's post is indicative of the lack of knowledge many have where MMA is concerned, sorry Derek not getting at you but thinking that karate isn't part of MMA is mistaken. I've not found either that karate emcompasses spirituality, it's a training system for fighting and self defence as far as most people are concerened. In Derek's post he said you needed killer instincts to defend yourself and because theres's no karate in MMA theres little killer instinct, I think this is hardly the case, I think perhaps Derek may need to have anohter look at karate and MMA tbh.
 
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