Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Thought/Technique Archive

Technique of the Week (January 8th, 2007)

From Tamir Sensei-Shihan
Ueshiro Suntree YMCA Dojo
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA

Thought for the week

Kata Training with Yakusoku Kumite

Please review Chapter VI “On Kumite” in The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, by Master Shoshin Nagamine.

He writes on page 252 “…prearranged Kumite must be practiced as a life-or-death match, but never with the intention of harming the fellow practitioner.” On page 102 he writes “Karate training should center on kata.” … “Students of karate-do should be determined to set kata at the heart and center of karate-do and practice kumite as supplementary training.” Master Nagamine’s reference to Kumite (sparring) is Yakusoku (pre-arranged) Kumite.

About 90% of the pages in Master Nagamine’s book focus on kata. Similarily, 90% of our training should focus on kata. Kata provides us the ultimate "weapons" arsenal of stances, movements, shifting and techniques to use in a life or death match. The challenge is to automatically choose and apply (without thought) the right weapons out of this arsenal, to disable an aggressive opponent. Kata repetition and deliberate polishing is that which programs these weapons into our motor skills for instinctive (automatic) use. While doing kata we can achieve the ultimate training of disabling and/or killing the imaginary opponent. In kumite we cannot. In kumite we must not harm our training partner. However, kumite training supplements kata training, especially in learning ma-ai (distance) and in learning the bunkai (application) of the techniques which we practice in kata.

Take any kata and dissect it. Apply any of it's block-strike combinations with a training partner in a pre-arranged Yakusoku Kumite fashion, back and fourth. Also practice these regularly with a makiwara and heavy bag. This practice effectively expands our critical kata training into the kumite realm. There are many combinations to practice from kata. Emphasize training time on your favorite kata, and on your favorite techniques from that kata. Program these weapons into your instinctive motor skills, should you ever need them.

As a supplement to the above, review page 44 in Hanshi Scaglione’s Red Book. Hanshi provides us with some essential thoughts on kumite. He writes “Improper practice, as in jyu-kumite [tournament sparring], will dull the natural reflex and response to a threatening punch or kick.” … “Kata must be our primary means of training...”.

Keep training kata and pre-arranged kumite … with joy & vigor!

Hanshi, Domo Arigato Gozaimasu for your continued guidance and leadership.

Tamir Sensei-Shihan
Ueshiro Suntree YMCA Dojo
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA