Why does point fighting get so much disrespect

Kenpoguy123

Purple Belt
Joined
Oct 25, 2015
Messages
373
Reaction score
105
I mean yeah I know it's not a realistic form of fighting and you'd never fight in a street fight like you do in a point match and yes some of the scoring is stupid but really it's a good bit of fun that any age can do from kids to adults in their 60s. Not everyone wants to compete and get bloody and bruised and beaten. I personally really enjoy the aspect of point fighting where you've got to think of strategies and different techniques and not just running in swinging for the fences. Also in point tournaments you fight lots of different people and have to adapt your style each time as every fight is different and since your opponent will have seen your previous match they'll know what your main moves are so you have to keep thinking up new ideas.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,964
Reaction score
3,266
Location
Michigan
There is nothing especially wrong with it, not at all. It can be fun, and there are some valid martial arts aspects to it. I think there is some resistance to it on a number of different levels.

First, it has become largely a children's sport, where kids get trophies to please kids and satisfy parents, like soccer in the USA.

Second, it allows McDojos and crappy useless martial arts schools to seem to have an air of respectability, it validates garbage.

Third, some tournaments and circuits have become just another profit center, where students are required to attend, pay exorbitant fees, and win for the dojo as advertising.

Still, they can be fun. Some are good. You can learn some valuable lessons point sparring. Staying aware, planning, learning to move quickly and effectively, even facing fear. All good stuff.

I don't hate point sparring as much as the mockery it often becomes.
 

Hanzou

Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
6,691
Reaction score
1,260
Point fighting is god-awful, and a general hinderance to karate. It creates bad habits, and leads practitioners into a false sense of security.

There's literally no reason for point fighting to exist. There's kata competitions if you want "the kiddies" to compete without hurting themselves.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,964
Reaction score
3,414
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
There is a good reason that "point fighting" Karate had evolved into "full contact" Karate back in 1973. There is no reason to go back.

When I controlled and pulled my punch but my opponent didn't, that was the last day that I did my "point fight".

Instead of using "point fighting", I prefer to play full contact with body protection and head gear. When you run toward me with full speed and try to knock my head off, if I can use my side kick to hit on your chest to stop you, even if I can't hurt you with your chest protection, at least I know that my side kick is strong enough if I use it in street situation. By using "point fighting", I will always have a question mark in my head about my kicking power.

When I throw my opponent down, I can use 100% power. When I punch my opponent, I can't use 100% power (if my opponent doesn't have body protection on). That's the problem for the general striking art training. The more that I have trained the "point fight", the more that I may develop some false confidence.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,385
Reaction score
4,697
Location
England
There is a good reason that "point fighting" Karate had evolved into "full contact" Karate back in 1973. There is no reason to go back.

When I controlled and pulled my punch but my opponent didn't, that was the last day that I did my "point fight".

Instead of using "point fighting", I prefer to play full contact with body protection and head gear. When you run toward me with full speed and try to knock my head off, if I can use my side kick to hit on your chest to stop you, even if I can't hurt you with your chest protection, at least I know that my side kick is strong enough if I use it in street situation. By using "point fighting", I will always have a question mark in my head about my kicking power.

When I throw my opponent down, I can use 100% power. When I punch my opponent, I can't use 100% power (if my opponent doesn't have body protection on). That's the problem for the general striking art training. The more that I have trained the "point fight", the more that I may develop some false confidence.

I don't know what you mean by saying point fighting evolved into full contact fighting in 1973? As someone who was training karate then I can assure you that full contact was the norm in those days and points came a lot later.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,964
Reaction score
3,414
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I don't know what you mean by saying point fighting evolved into full contact fighting in 1973? As someone who was training karate then I can assure you that full contact was the norm in those days and points came a lot later.
I remember the "full contact" Karate started in US at the end of 1973. Later on, it evolved into "kick boxing". Before that there was only "point fighting". Even in "point fighting", there was no "face contact" in non-black belt division.

I still remember in one black belt level "point fighting" match, one guy used control punch on his opponent's face, the other guy turned his face, bitten on his own lips, and blood came out. His opponent was dis-qualified for that.

Whether or not the "point fighting" still existed after 1973, I'm not too sure. Most of my Karate friends started to train "full contact" after that.
 
Last edited:

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
10,177
Reaction score
4,121
Location
New York
There is a good reason that "point fighting" Karate had evolved into "full contact" Karate back in 1973. There is no reason to go back.
Also not sure what you're talking about here, but since I wasn't alive in the 70's I can't really argue either way. However, Kyokushin Karate was developed in the early 60's, and as far as I know Kyokushin has always been full contact.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
10,177
Reaction score
4,121
Location
New York
To the comments about whether or not point fighting is useful:
A bit of background on me. I started off doing almost only point fighting. This is how my original dojo was, and until I was around 13, I was only allowed to do either point fighting or self-defense situations, but those were very different than conventional sparring. After 13, they started to mix it up and we started doing contact fighting, but lightly and with equipment. I left that studio at 16, went to a different kempo place run by two professional kickboxers and took combined classes, then went on to another dojo (kenpo/judo but most people had previous experience) that had full contact mma classes. I currently am back at my original dojo, where as adults we still do both.

Now, with all that said. I dislike point fighting. Not for any of the reasons others might say, I just dont like it as much as I do contact. However, I am incredibly grateful that I learned pointfighting first. It taught me the basics of fighting, how to gauge distance or trick an opponent, and a lot of other useful stuff. It was ingrained in my muscle memory, and when I switched to kickboxing, I had to resist that muscle memory a tiny bit. I definitely did have bad habits, and discovered that very early on. However, after a couple months (and remember, this was after I had only done point sparring for 8 years), all the 'bad habits' that I developed were basically gone, and I was able to think about the fight differently then my opponents. I was way ahead of the other kickboxers in terms of abilities, and one of the instructors would have me pair up with him each class because we were basically on par with each other skillwise. When I went to college I ended up teaching striking once a week at the gym because the owner/head instructor liked my fighting style.

Overall, point sparring gave me a distinct advantage that made me a lot better than I would have been otherwise, because it taught me different tactics that I have learned to adapt to contact fighting. I'm doing it again know in order to work on my basics without worrying about everything you need to worry about in a fight, in order to hopefully improve my striking game. It doesn't deserve the bad rap it has, and the only reason it has it, IMO, is that people aren't willing to let it go when they're sparring with different rules, so they don't know how to adapt and keep what's useful. The crossed out part, along with what Bill said in an earlier post, are likely why it is disrespected the way that it is.
 
Last edited:

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,964
Reaction score
3,266
Location
Michigan
To the comments about whether or not point fighting is useful:
A bit of background on me. I started off doing almost only point fighting. This is how my original dojo was, and until I was around 13, I was only allowed to do either point fighting or self-defense situations, but those were very different than conventional sparring. After 13, they started to mix it up and we started doing contact fighting, but lightly and with equipment. I left that studio at 16, went to a different kempo place run by two professional kickboxers and took combined classes, then went on to another dojo (kenpo/judo but most people had previous experience) that had full contact mma classes. I currently am back at my original dojo, where as adults we still do both.

Now, with all that said. I dislike point fighting. Not for any of the reasons others might say, I just dont like it as much as I do contact. However, I am incredibly grateful that I learned pointfighting first. It taught me the basics of fighting, how to gauge distance or trick an opponent, and a lot of other useful stuff. It was ingrained in my muscle memory, and when I switched to kickboxing, I had to resist that muscle memory a tiny bit. I definitely did have bad habits, and discovered that very early on. However, after a couple months (and remember, this was after I had only done point sparring for 8 years), all the 'bad habits' that I developed were basically gone, and I was able to think about the fight differently then my opponents. I was way ahead of the other kickboxers in terms of abilities, and one of the instructors would have me pair up with him each class because we were basically on par with each other skillwise. When I went to college I ended up teaching striking once a week at the gym because the owner/head instructor liked my fighting style.

Overall, point sparring gave me a distinct advantage that made me a lot better than I would have been otherwise, because it taught me different tactics that I have learned to adapt to contact fighting. I'm doing it again know in order to work on my basics without worrying about everything you need to worry about in a fight, in order to hopefully improve my striking game. It doesn't deserve the bad rap it has, and the only reason it has it, IMO, is that people aren't willing to let it go when they're sparring with different rules, so they don't know how to adapt and keep what's useful.

I agree with all your points but the last one. I gave some very valid reasons. Do you deny any of them?
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
12,121
Reaction score
9,044
Location
Maui
At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, "point fighting" used to be both words by definition. A couple of decades ago it became just "points". I haven't seen any actual fighting in it since then.

I went to a tournament about five years ago. I thought I was on Mars.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
10,177
Reaction score
4,121
Location
New York
I agree with all your points but the last one. I gave some very valid reasons. Do you deny any of them?
Hmm, I had missed your post when scrolling through somehow. I would agree with that, but with the caveat that there are two different types of point sparring: "legitimate" point sparring, which uses point fighting as a way to teach/focus on actual fighting skills and tactics without having to concern yourself with whether or not you will get hit/hurt, and "illegitimate" point sparring which if they have tournaments its generally vs. people from the same style/franchise to maintain their air of legitimacy.
I consider these two things separate, so when I'm thinking about point sparring having an unfair rap, it doesn't occur to me that others don't make the same distinction. That's almost definitely not the case, so for the "illegitimate" point fighting all your reasons are valid.
 

jks9199

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
22,668
Reaction score
2,921
Location
Northern VA
Done right, point/middle style fighting is a great exercise. You learn to deliver your techniques, at speed, with an opponent. It's a chess game. Points, if working that way, are given for techniques that, had you landed with power and focus, would have done significant damage to your opponent. Clashes, unclean, blind, unfocused techniques didn't score. It isn't non-contact -- it's controlled contact. Full contact SHOULDN'T look very different -- except in the results of "points."

Unfortunately, it's not done "right" very often. Most tournaments devolved to non-contact, unrealistic flails to see who can land a technique first. Focus and balance are sacrificed to manage to get something in, and there's often not even lip service paid to functionality.

And that's without even getting into things like "tournaments" run as a promotions for a school -- whose students somehow seem to be most of the winners.... or trophies taller than the competitors and so many divisions that it's damn near impossible not to "win."
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,964
Reaction score
3,414
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
In Texas, the full contact has to follow the boxing guideline and 16 oz boxing gloves is a must. Some Karate tournament sponsors may either have problem to buy the proper insurance, or don't feel like to be controlled by the boxing committee, the "point fighting" Karate tournament can still be popular.

Old saying said, "fighting should be like your shirt is catching on fire". IMO, the "point fighting" may not give you enough "fear" (to be knocked out). It's like when a soldier has seen blood, he will become a good soldier. When a fighter has the experience to be almost knocked out, he will become a good fighter.
 
Last edited:

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,648
Reaction score
4,333
I mean yeah I know it's not a realistic form of fighting and you'd never fight in a street fight like you do in a point match and yes some of the scoring is stupid but really it's a good bit of fun that any age can do from kids to adults in their 60s. Not everyone wants to compete and get bloody and bruised and beaten. I personally really enjoy the aspect of point fighting where you've got to think of strategies and different techniques and not just running in swinging for the fences. Also in point tournaments you fight lots of different people and have to adapt your style each time as every fight is different and since your opponent will have seen your previous match they'll know what your main moves are so you have to keep thinking up new ideas.
I don't think people disrespect point sparring as much as they understand that it develops bad habits and bad application of techniques. Some point sparring just ends up looking like an advanced game of tag. The excessive bouncing that is done in some point sparring and leaving the leg out after kicking are really bad habits that a martial artist should never do, but you see it a lot in point sparring. The other bad habit is stopping the attack after landing one punch or one kick. Point sparring also uses techniques that don't have significant power. By significant power I mean, that even if the technique was thrown full force a person would be able to easily absorb the attack and counter with something much more powerful.

Raymond Daniels went pro, and in sometimes you can see bad point sparring habits pop up in his professional matches.
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,648
Reaction score
4,333
Point fighting should really be like light sparring with the use of techniques. It shouldn't end after contact is made It should be continuous and controlled.

I mean yeah I know it's not a realistic form of fighting and you'd never fight in a street fight like you do in a point match
Here lies the problem. If you would never use the techniques in a real fight then why use it in point sparring. It seems to defeat the purpose of learning a martial art technique.
 

hoshin1600

Senior Master
Joined
May 16, 2014
Messages
3,045
Reaction score
1,527
Some of you need to take a step back, keep your macho attitudes in check and remember that the biggest demographic for martial arts are children. As an adult yeah I like full contact, as a parent, i don't want my five year old coming home with injuries. Children break things far more easily and can cause permanent damage. Case in point my nephew broke his forearm with a radial fracture. 5 pins and a cost of few grand out of pocket is not something I want to deal with. His arm will never be the same.
That being said the next point is many children do not have the emotional capacity to deal with contact sparring. At least at first, over time maybe but they need stepping stones to get there. If you put them under stressful situations like contact sparring before they are ready they will quit. Can't keep a karate dojo open these days without a kids program.
Third point, some people just don't want contact. That's their choice,,, live with it.....in car sales there is a saying "there is an **** for every seat" shouldn't be any different in martial arts. If you don't like it , don't do it..simple
 
Last edited:

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,385
Reaction score
4,697
Location
England
I remember the "full contact" Karate started in US at the end of 1973. Later on, it evolved into "kick boxing". Before that there was only "point fighting". Even in "point fighting", there was no "face contact" in non-black belt division.

I still remember in one black belt level "point fighting" match, one guy used control punch on his opponent's face, the other guy turned his face, bitten on his own lips, and blood came out. His opponent was dis-qualified for that.

Whether or not the "point fighting" still existed after 1973, I'm not too sure. Most of my Karate friends started to train "full contact" after that.

I think you have it backwards quite honestly, full contact first then points fighting. I wonder if you are thinking about kick boxing becoming popular? Nothing much happened in 1973 in karate that there was this sudden switch, karate comps were full contact from the early sixties at the very least.

I have to disagree with the idea that martial arts is children focussed, at least if it is, it's only in the States, it's still a very adult pursuit elsewhere. We do have a fair amount of children but the majority of students are adults outside the US. Many places don't take children at all.

I do think there's a lot of posturing going on about points sparring, like the arguments about KO each other in training. There's disrespect from many about how others train in many cases, I can't see why it matters to people so much that they have to be 'right'.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,964
Reaction score
3,266
Location
Michigan
I have to disagree with the idea that martial arts is children focussed, at least if it is, it's only in the States, it's still a very adult pursuit elsewhere. We do have a fair amount of children but the majority of students are adults outside the US. Many places don't take children at all.

My only experience with tournaments is in the US. It's nearly all children. There are often adult divisions, but they are run long after the kids have finished up and gone home, and they are much, much, smaller.

While the point sparring does give some value to the furtherance in martial arts training, it also creates and reinforces bad habits, many of which have been noted here. The bouncing, the leaping head tap, stopping after a point is scored, hanging the leg or punch out after delivering a technique, etc. Yes, point sparring allows techniques to be practiced - BAD TECHNIQUES. Some good techniques, but far more basic garbage. I'm not putting down point-sparring for that, because it doesn't have to be that way. The issues are absolutely to be laid at the feet of the many McDojos and the bogus associations that are organized for the purpose of legitimizing each other's garbage instruction. There's too much junk being taught, and point-sparring tournaments are proof of it.

Again, nothing wrong with point-sparring, per se. It is what it has been allowed to become, not the actual sparring itself. I've also seen well-run tournaments with good solid techniques being required for a point to be scored. It can be done. But it means the McDojos cannot be allowed to participate.
 

Andrew Green

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 1, 2004
Messages
8,627
Reaction score
450
Location
Winnipeg MB
It can be done. But it means the McDojos cannot be allowed to participate.

I hope you mean they will choose not to as they will lose. If you have to ban people with bad technique for a tournament to work that seems a little odd. If the rules allow someone with bad technique to win by taking advantage of the rules its a problem with the rules and the winning techniques are actually "good" for that set of rules.

Which is really the problem most people have with point fighting. It lets people do some really, really dumb things outside of the context of the rules. That Men's Final match posted above clearly shows that. The one guy consistently turned his back and ran out of the ring after his shot, which he gets away with because the ref stops the action. Try that in a continous format and you'll get beat up quick. But given the rules he's working under, it works. Even if he's more likely to hurt himself then the other guy doing it, it works in those rules.

In a point fighting environment someone with what most people would consider good technique, power and tactics can lose to someone doing really stupid crap that exploits the rules, but scores points under them. But the unfortunate reality is that stupid crap is kinda smart given the rules.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
14,964
Reaction score
3,266
Location
Michigan
I hope you mean they will choose not to as they will lose. If you have to ban people with bad technique for a tournament to work that seems a little odd. If the rules allow someone with bad technique to win by taking advantage of the rules its a problem with the rules and the winning techniques are actually "good" for that set of rules.

Which is really the problem most people have with point fighting. It lets people do some really, really dumb things outside of the context of the rules. That Men's Final match posted above clearly shows that. The one guy consistently turned his back and ran out of the ring after his shot, which he gets away with because the ref stops the action. Try that in a continous format and you'll get beat up quick. But given the rules he's working under, it works. Even if he's more likely to hurt himself then the other guy doing it, it works in those rules.

In a point fighting environment someone with what most people would consider good technique, power and tactics can lose to someone doing really stupid crap that exploits the rules, but scores points under them. But the unfortunate reality is that stupid crap is kinda smart given the rules.

The associations and tournament circuits that currently allow poor technique in point-sparring are not going to change their rules; they have no interest in doing so. This is because it would be against their own values. They gather together to promote that junk and give legitimacy to their own terrible training. So they're not likely to ban what they teach themselves.
 
Top