Competitive Karate Works On The Street

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Competitive Karate Works On The Street

Post  Steve bungle on Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:28 am

Found Ian mccranors blog (anyone remember him?), a very thought provoking piece did i find in regards to traditional martials arts/self protection, well worth a read.

If like me, you have heard time and time again that the traditional karate competition fighter would get his/her arse kicked in a real fight you have probably felt a little wounded and somewhat disrespected, especially when the people talking like this are mainly the self defence wannabes whose idea of a real fight is to have a compliant partner performing a whole myriad of possible attacking scenarios.

What baffles me is that the majority of these self defence practitioners have never and will never engage in any form of sparring, believing that the only thing they need to know is how to be pre-emptive. They stand in front of their would be attacker/s and practise controlling them with dialogue and hand gestures, while positioning themselves to deliver the knock out that will finish the fight before it has even started. Don't get me wrong, I have and will continue to use a pre-emptive strike should I feel it is warranted.

So who am I to tell people how it works on the street? Well in spite of my good looks and youthful appearance I have actually been in the trenches. Am I master grappler or champion boxer? No, but I was working the door and putting people to sleep long before the UFC and cage fighting hit the UK TV screens and the term mixed martial arts was used to describe a group of muppets who couldn't handle the discipline and training regime of a traditional club, so they jumped ship and made up their own shit. I am not actually sure things have changed that much either.

As a young competition fighter I have to admit I was living a lie, although I was winning countless competitions and ruling the dojo when it came to sparring, I always found myself questioning how what I was doing would translate into a real fight. My ignorance at the age of eighteen had me thinking that surely it was just a question of not controlling my techniques?

Why was I living a lie? Because I was shit scared of real violence after seeing a bouncer get head butted and knocked out, followed by a major kick off that even the toughest guy would have crapped his pants over. I had decided that this wasn't a world I wanted any part of. Only a short while after this I had a conversation with an extremely talented boxer who told me he had done the doors for a while but couldn't handle it, that his bottle had gone a few times and he quit.

My life was about to change

It was a Monday evening at the karate club and we had a few new faces from a Taekwondo club in the class, I was excited to be sparring with some new blood, especially as theses lads brought a new dimension with them. I immediately found myself struggling to do what I do as these lads kept at kicking range pretty much the entire time while they slammed in what I remember as no control bombs. I was getting hurt. I was 19 years of age and had been involved in karate for almost 4 years but felt like a beginner again. When it was time to change partners I sat out, I couldn't take it anymore so I just watched while I licked my wounds. I can still remember to this day not wanting to get back in there but I was actually more afraid of being seen as bottling it that I was of anything else, so I was up again. It was only few seconds into the round when I realised that I was letting them fight 'their' fight and at kicking range, with the power they possessed, I had no chance so I had to adapt. I ran in close, something I had never done like this before, very scruffy and not karate at all (I thought) and landed a punch then a sweep and he was down. I then continued to adapt and call on things I had never even considered until now, I was even dropping head butts I was so close. It was strange, I had basically been cornered and felt like I was being bullied so I had to either adapt or just admit defeat. After turning the tables I couldn't wait for another round with another Taekwondo guy, and once again I dominated - I just ran in and basically ruffed him up.

After this session one of the guys told me he worked on the door at a pub/club just on the outskirts of Coventry, that they were going to be short handed for a two weeks while someone was on holiday and did I fancy covering for a fortnight. When I said yes I never imagined the fortnight would turn into 15 years. The next decade and half showed me something you can't see by reading a book or by watching a video. Sure, you can learn from other peoples experiences but you are really only watching the trailer to a movie, you may know the plot but you don't know the script. I was and still am, a traditional karateka.. well maybe not if you were to ask a real traditionalist. What I mean is I am a white gi karate guy who competed in what is recognised as WKF, WUKF and I can tell you without any doubt in my mind, that competition karate works in real fights.

80% mental

Anyone who has competed in anything will know how adrenaline can fuck you up, the build up to your turn to compete has a psychological effect that can have you quitting before you even get close to the fighting area. I have seen a good few people make the journey to a venue only to suddenly feel unwell and throw in the towel in the changing room. People who compete at high level competitions will be experiencing this rush and be familiarising themselves in how to override this onslaught. People who only practice set routines with willing, compliant partners may feel a little nervous at times but this nervousness doesn't come close. There is an underlying misconception that is prevalent within the self defence/self protection fraternity, perpetuated by those who have never had to deal with the real world of violence. Being a good fighter, a tough guy has nothing to do with making it work in the real world. A nuclear bomb will destroy an entire city, but before it can do that is has to be launched. Take away the launch system and it's just a pile of metal sitting in a silo. I know a lot of tough guys, some tremendous "fighters" who have confessed they would bottle it, if faced by a named thug or local gangster because they are very aware that it's not the fighting that worries them as much as the potential aftermath does.


As a competition fighter my intention was to give the referee what he/she wanted to see. I wasn't trying to impress anyone with my ability, the technique no matter how skilful and impressive wasn't going to get me a win unless it hit a scoring area in a manner that related to what the referee recognised as worthy of score. This very fact alone made many top competitors very frustrated as quite often 'at club level' competitions, many referees were substandard. I remember early on in my competition career I found myself losing to someone with very little ability but somehow the referee had seen something worth scoring so I was battling with the clock to catch up. I deliberately hit home with a front kick to the midsection with the intention of making him hit the deck, I didn't really care if it scored I just wanted to put him down, it not only worked, I was disqualified as he was stretchered off. I had been fighting a very un-skilled opponent but in the eyes of an even less skilled referee I was losing so I decided to end it. I had been playing by the rules but the rules where fucking with me. It was at this moment I started to look very closely at intention.

Why competition karate works on the street

I am/was a competition karate athlete "I am not a fighter". As a self confessed non-fighter I destroyed thugs, bullies and so called gangsters by hitting first, hitting hard and by not letting that inner voice control me. A street confrontation is not one dimensional, meaning that to equate every situation based on what a bouncer does on a night club door is to buy into the notion that banging someone who refuses to follow your instructions is what self defence is all about. I learnt what worked while working the doors because I had opportunity to practice and fail with real, no holds barred situations. Competition fighters already have the tools they just need to be prepared to hone them a little. It's like have a kitchen draw full of cutlery, most of it you are not going to use if all you are looking to do is boil an egg, if however you are looking to gut a turkey an egg splitter is going to be useless.

So do karate techniques work in the street, well do boxing techniques work in the street, or taekwondo? The simple answer is, if someone is hit on the jaw with the appropriate power then they are knocked out, it's doesn't matter what label is attached to it. The competition karateka has well beyond appropriate power, they have excellent fitness, agility, focus and great timing. They possess a disciplined well balanced stance and they are used to feeling that adrenaline rush. The only thing missing which is easily addressed is that they themselves are not accustomed to being scruffy and letting multiple techniques go as the nature of their sport calls for a clinical strike. They must also get used to taking multiple hits themselves.

I find it very amusing watching overweight, out of shape wannabe street fighters practising their line ups and striking the pads. I am sure some of these guys are real animals and have indeed decked their fair share of assailants. When I say assailants what I really mean is victims as a great many of these self defence, grappling, cage fighting, geezers are nothing more than frustrated bullies who have as much interest in self defence as I do. They proudly wear a Tap Out shirt because it makes them feel like they belong to something and the only reason they grapple is because they found out that's what those tough people on the telly do. You would never have never seen these type in a judo or wrestling class because these sports are not mainstream and don't have the thug image attached to them. The UFC is a factory floor topic and therefore a magnet for the egotistical, testosterone-filled meatheads whose every other word is 'choke' or 'arm bar'.

The heading of this article is Competitive Karate Works On The Street. This heading is no accident, it's intention was to have people take notice and to strike a nerve, to get into the head of the sport karate haters and to have the competitive fighter have a look at what was being written. Before we can even think about what the title is suggesting we first have to recognise what competitive karate is because there are so many different ideas about that.

Steve bungle

Number of posts : 83
Age : 51
Localisation : newport wales
Registration date : 2007-02-21

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