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Thread: Point Karate for self-defense?

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Cecil Burch View Post
    And the fact that there are only TWO succesful MMA fighters that have been named who have a karate based background pretty much indicates it does not apply across the board and is more down to outstanding athletes rather than the system itself. We are 25 years in with modern MMA, and only a tiny fraction of karate fighters have made a successful transition. That is not theory, but history.
    I think thatís likely a key important point as a friend of mine recently also pointed out.

    I think itís easy to conflate athletic ability with knowledge or sound tactics and vice-versa. Being the best fighter is not synonymous with being the best instructor. And it seems many people donít make the distinction, so itís fairly easy to manipulate opinions.

    If Iím being completely honest, I used to rely heavily on my athletic ability to prove that what I did and taught worked and was better than method X. Usually playing the contrarian a fair bit as well. My friends perspective was just because I could make something work, didnít equate to it being a good method in general or that there wasnít a better approach. The fact I left feeling a bit humbled, indicates I think he was probably right.

    Thanks for the replies.

  2. #22
    Iíve been watching a lot of videos from point tournaments and various karate class footage and am a bit surprised at what Iím seeing. Not at all similar to my experience in the late 80ís.

    Most competitions are essentially: manage distance, set up entry to score a point and then stop and try to sell it to the judges. Iím not seeing much actual purposeful disengagement, evasiveness or combinations that I expected I would.

    I trained in what the instructor labeled Shotokan for a few years in the late 80ís, but it was primarily at one school and we didnít compete with a one time exception. He incorporated scenario drills, was a former boxer in the navy, so that was integrated into it and we wrestled. His approach to sparring and the footwork we utilized doesnít really have all that much in common with what Iím seeing is apparently commonplace today.

    There is a guy named Iain Abernethy who has an interesting take on this subject from the articles and videos Iíve come across, and does a pretty good job at making the distinction between what occurs in consensual vs nonconsensual violence, as well as what elements of karate are actually relatively practical for self-defense. He seems to knows his karate history as well.

  3. #23
    #RESIST

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleLebowski View Post
    Ha! I agree with @Cecil Burch. Most TMA and point fighting sucks. It's why I never cared for them and, the last one I went to was 27 years ago to help a friend who opened a Dojo in CT. Oddly, although we didn't stay in touch as much as we have liked, we reconnected recently and both changed how we teach tremendously.

    PF and the Shivworks collective greatly influenced my transition from what my last teacher was doing to what I do now. I used to say that his school was the best of all the shitty schools, and now I just want to be a quality school doing quality work.
    Fairness leads to extinction much faster than harsh parameters.

  5. #25

    Machida etc

    Lyoto Machida started training Shotokan under his father, a master teacher, at the age of 3. Then he started sumo at age 8, and BJJ and boxing at 16.

    The chances of any random adult new student who shows up to the dojo 3x a week at best being able to use point karate skills like Machida is basically zero, because they won't have all the other childhood training, nor are they likely being trained by a master.

    Even Machida had problems after (if I'm remembering it right) one of his opponents brought in a high level point karate guy as a sparring partner (Rafael Aghayev I think?), just to figure out how to beat what had been up to then, Machida's elusive style.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Lester Polfus View Post
    I don't have the combatives credentials that many of the people on this forum have, but I really have to kind of challenge the idea of "controlling distance" in any context outside of some kind of combat sport. Every single violent encounter I've witnessed or been a part of in real life has collapsed to the closest range one party desired, which is usually pretty close.
    Thatís definitely a consideration, and one that would apply to any combat sport, MMA as well.

    Even if there are some self-defense scenarios(no matter how contrived), where long range karate style footwork is potentially applicable for self-defense, the environment must be considered.

    Sparring and matches take place on nice, smooth, clean and open spaces. Self-defense scenarios often do not.

    While not an actual defense encounter, I did learn this lesson 30 years ago through some impromptu sparring late one night in a Chicago 7-eleven. My opponent was using what I would best label a hybrid Muay-Thai style. Simply looking at us, it appeared a complete mismatch and I completely underestimated him, but my long range Shotokan footwork and mobility was next to useless in that confined space, as I couldnít keep him off of me. We then went outside in the parking lot where I had infinite space to maneuver and it was a completely different result. He couldnít touch me. So, environment plays heavily into the mix as well and you canít expect to have the space to move like you do in the dojo.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by BaiHu View Post
    Ha! I agree with @Cecil Burch. Most TMA and point fighting sucks. It's why I never cared for them and, the last one I went to was 27 years ago to help a friend who opened a Dojo in CT. Oddly, although we didn't stay in touch as much as we have liked, we reconnected recently and both changed how we teach tremendously.

    PF and the Shivworks collective greatly influenced my transition from what my last teacher was doing to what I do now. I used to say that his school was the best of all the shitty schools, and now I just want to be a quality school doing quality work.
    I assume youíre some sort of authority on this subject matter since you were tagged, so maybe you could offer a little more insight.

    Iím not an authority in point-fighting, but I did work with some of the best JKA and WUKO(now WKF) for awhile in the early 90ís. IIRC, the sparring methodology was heavily influenced from kendo and fencing, and an old Shotokan adage was something along the lines of treating your hands and feet as knives, so they sparred with the mentality of not getting touched. That seems rather unique, so I donít see a necessarily good comparison with other other striking arts. And as such, the consideration being entertaining the idea that there just might perhaps be at least some specific element that theyíve developed to a higher degree than anyone else.

    I would also venture to say the vast majority of point fighters have very little interest in full contact or MMA, so to conclude thereís absolutely nothing at all to be learned from something because we donít see it in the UFC seems shortsighted to me. Thereís usually multiple factors that determine those things, including the rules, and itís not like MMA hasnít been in constant flux since itís inception in regards to what we see being used effectively.

    Itís easy to be dismissive, but Iíve learned time and time again not to do so. I recall a time when a cocky looking group of Brazilians where taking out ads in magazines wanting to prove the efficiency of their style. Most people dismissed them at the time. I did so as well and even after my first encounter with the art, but that has more to do with individuals.

    I sort of see BJJ following a path similar to karate. Commercialization and mainstreaming the art into a watered down sport has turned it into something completely different from what it was three decades ago. Many or maybe most schools are teaching methods that arenít all that relevant to self-defense, but that doesnít mean certain elements that could be useful arenít being developed by the confines of the sport. Same with karate or any other system adapted into a sport.

    I have nothing to sell, nor am I promoting or defending sport karate or any particular style. I left all that silliness behind long ago. More just along the lines of a thought experiment.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister X View Post
    I assume youíre some sort of authority on this subject matter since you were tagged, so maybe you could offer a little more insight.

    Iím not an authority in point-fighting, but I did work with some of the best JKA and WUKO(now WKF) for awhile in the early 90ís. IIRC, the sparring methodology was heavily influenced from kendo and fencing, and an old Shotokan adage was something along the lines of treating your hands and feet as knives, so they sparred with the mentality of not getting touched. That seems rather unique, so I donít see a necessarily good comparison with other other striking arts. And as such, the consideration being entertaining the idea that there just might perhaps be at least some specific element that theyíve developed to a higher degree than anyone else.

    I would also venture to say the vast majority of point fighters have very little interest in full contact or MMA, so to conclude thereís absolutely nothing at all to be learned from something because we donít see it in the UFC seems shortsighted to me. Thereís usually multiple factors that determine those things, including the rules, and itís not like MMA hasnít been in constant flux since itís inception in regards to what we see being used effectively.

    Itís easy to be dismissive, but Iíve learned time and time again not to do so. I recall a time when a cocky looking group of Brazilians where taking out ads in magazines wanting to prove the efficiency of their style. Most people dismissed them at the time. I did so as well and even after my first encounter with the art, but that has more to do with individuals.

    I sort of see BJJ following a path similar to karate. Commercialization and mainstreaming the art into a watered down sport has turned it into something completely different from what it was three decades ago. Many or maybe most schools are teaching methods that arenít all that relevant to self-defense, but that doesnít mean certain elements that could be useful arenít being developed by the confines of the sport. Same with karate or any other system adapted into a sport.

    I have nothing to sell, nor am I promoting or defending sport karate or any particular style. I left all that silliness behind long ago. More just along the lines of a thought experiment.
    I can't tell if I was tagged tongue in cheek or to a different extent. We can ask @LittleLebowski for his exact thought process. I just figured I'd roll with the fact that he might just want my opinion since I run a TMA school.

    You're fencing analogy is right on. I think all sports have to have rules, even if it's just to make it easier for people to watch, understand, and bet on.

    This is such a wormhole to go down, because "sport fighting" is as old as man. At what point did we start valuing human life enough that we wanted our troops to be in shape but not have the best killed off in ridiculous matches to satisfy the public or our simple curiosity?

    I also agree with your POV on where bjj is going down a similar path to over commercialization. I've heard that from several of my bjj guys. I think the thing that bjj has going for it is realistic tournaments as compared to most TMA tournaments.

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    Last edited by BaiHu; 10-21-2022 at 10:13 AM.
    Fairness leads to extinction much faster than harsh parameters.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by BaiHu View Post
    This is such a wormhole to go down,

    Yep. Iíve been involved in the martial arts going on four decades now, so sometimes playing around with ideas considered novelty or at the fringes adds some much needed spice. I havenít done a kata since 1992, but I do find the Bunkai material some instructors are putting out very interesting nonetheless. Even if practical self-defense is the primary focus, I think there can be value in taking a walk around less explored territory.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister X View Post

    I sort of see BJJ following a path similar to karate. Commercialization and mainstreaming the art into a watered down sport has turned it into something completely different from what it was three decades ago. Many or maybe most schools are teaching methods that arenít all that relevant to self-defense, but that doesnít mean certain elements that could be useful arenít being developed by the confines of the sport. Same with karate or any other system adapted into a sport..
    I get the point you're trying to make, but as a practitioner of both, the difference between BJJ and karate is more than just "they were effective self defense systems until the money stepped in."

    There are quite a few alternatives to Karate if you want to learn a striking art. Boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Lethwei, Savate, JKD, Kung fu, etc...and most of them, if trained with some degree of intensity, resistance and "aliveness" (to paraphrase Matt Thornton) will begin to look very similar.

    All airplanes look similar for a reason: that shit flies.


    Many striking martial arts seem to want to be their own special thing. The curse of that line of thinking is the curse that killed Karate as a viable foundation for self defense (for me personally) and doomed it to be the ghost of what it once was and the specter of being a "useful add on"

    You may see some bouncy outside movement from kickboxers that looks "karate-esque" (and some karetekas did use karate as the basis for Kickboxing like Bill "superfoot" Wallace) but I don't know that Karate has evolved in the way that BJJ has.

    I still haven't seen a karate tournament in which karetekas used the techniques of other striking arts like hard leg kicks, or use of the teep instead of a traditional front snap kick.


    There are a few alternatives to BJJ, but nearly none that give a focus on being able to win a full intensity contest from your back...even catch wrestling has provisions for a "tech fall" if you can hold someone on their back for a degree of time.

    BJJ was somewhat revolutionary and remains evolutionary.

    Revolutionary in that it was clearly a highly developed system of winning fights from a disadvantage (i.e. the bottom position) and evolutionary in that a lot of catch wrestling, Judo, and Sambo techniques were incorporated and subsumed into the overall meta of BJJ.

    I would go so far as to say there's almost nothing you can learn from another grappling system that you cannot also learn from BJJ.

    Leglocks, the double wrist lock, open guard, twisters, cradles, cross body rides, strength training, body lock takedowns and....these are all things that you might not have seen in the BJJ of 30 years ago, but rather you'd see them in wrestling, Sambo, or (some types) of Judo.

    But they have been incorporated by the most successful BJJ teams today and you will subsequently see them in both BJJ tournaments and full contact MMA contests.

    It is simply a matter of ruleset.

    It's my opinion that MMA training seems to be an excellent foundation for self protection solely on the basis that it evolves so frequently to keep up with trends.

    The only problem is that's hard on the body. And it takes shitloads of time.

    The best MMA competitors today may not even be ranked in BJJ, Judo, wrestling or boxing...but they'd send a high level practitioner of any of those arts to the land of wind and ghosts if it came down to a fight. Granted that may not be an actual self defense scenario with "no rules" (incorrect BTW there are rules to self defense) but being a better and more well rounded fighter is often just better in general because it allows one to leverage their experience in a way that applies to the rules at hand.


    How all of this can be made to apply to self defense is hard for me to know...I am certainly no expert, but more efficient and effective defensive techniques can and really must evolve over time. It's why guys like Paul, Craig, Cecil and others do what they do.

    The best way to win a fight need not be some woebegone heyday of the past.

    I don't think it is.

    But I do think karate is still cool. I do like using some of it in stand up sparring.

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