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Kihon, Kata & Kumite…

Kihon waza

Kihon waza are basic techniques, including methods of standing and moving (tachi waza), punching (tsuki waza), striking (uchi waza), kicking (geri waza), defense (uke waza), joint attacks (kansetsu waza), and throwing and falling (nage waza, ukemi waza). Like all complex motor skills, karatedo techniques are learned through careful coaching and constant repetition. The goal is to be able to execute any technique spontaneously, with correct form, speed, and power.*

Correct kihon waza are essential to the effective use of karatedo for self-defense. Proper body mechanics, breathing, and focus can enable even small people to strike with disabling force. But this is the result of hard work. If performed incorrectly, karate techniques can be more dangerous to the person doing them than to an assailant. Karate training involves constant, repetitive practice of kihon waza, both individually and with partners.*


Kata are the essence of karatedo. These sequences of rearranged attacks and defenses have sometimes been compared to dance because of their dynamic grace. Yet it may be more accurate to describe kata as “textbooks” of karatedo. Many kata are known to be almost 200 years old, and some are probably older. They date from the period of Okinawan history when karate training was conducted in secret, without written records. To transmit their knowledge of combat techniques, the old masters created kata encoding the skills, knowledge, and mental states necessary for effective application of karate. Students must learn and practice kata constantly. Achievement of kyu and dan rankings can depend on learning kata and performing them correctly. Bunkai, or interpretations of kata, are drills in which kata movements are analyzed and applied with training partners. This two-person practice creates an understanding of the combative applications of kata. Kata Breakdown can also aid the student with the ‘Feeling’ of the techniques in kata. As with the realization of application within the technique, the intent behind the technique will develop.*


Kumite, or sparring, is an essential aspect of karatedo training, providing a kind of laboratory setting in which the functional value of techniques can be tested and refined. Kumite training also develops spirit, humility, and courtesy. Kumite training ranges from simple two-person drills, to interpretation of complex kata movements, to jiyu kumite (free sparring). Ordinarily, protective equipment (Hand/Forearm & Instep/Shin pads) is used. To preserve the realism of techniques without excessive risk of injury, punches, kicks, and strikes are focused short of actual contact. In addition to non-contact (tsundome) kumite, advanced students also practice bogu kumite, contact sparring. In all forms of kumite, mutual respect and safety are mandatory. Kumite training in True Vision does not focus on sport competition, though members can be permitted to compete in tournaments (shiai). Tournament sparring can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but pursued in isolation, it can lead to ineffective techniques and unrealistic attitudes. In traditional karatedo, the purpose of kumite is not to win trophies, but to acquire the skills and maturity needed to survive a real-life crisis. Serious kumite training tends to develop compassion and consciousness of the frailty of living beings. In the dojo, aggression and egotism are not qualities to be encouraged but obstacles to overcome.*

*Borrowed from one of the many sites I’ve surfed dedicated to BUDO and BUSHIDO…

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