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My Favourite Kumite Technique in Shotokan Karate

The question of finding a single favorite technique is a challenging one, as Kumite has broad applications in my life. Although the primary use of most martial arts is generally believed to be self-defense, they have many other benefits. Depending on the intent of the person, karate can be utilized in different ways, and it has various drills, each with a distinctive purpose and skill requirement.

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Kumite is one of the three primary branches of karate, the other two being kata and Kihon. The sections are interconnected, as kihon and kata focus on the basic form and perfecting the execution of separate moves alone, while Kumite is centered on using the first two in sparring matches. Beginner practices tend to be choreographed and conform to a strict format, while more advanced fighters are allowed increasing amounts of freedom. Jiyu Kumite or free sparring has little restriction compared to the other drill and is the most similar to a real self-defense scenario.

The word Kumite means “grappling hands” in Japanese, and the name is reflective of the fighting style. It is not uncommon to use well-thought-out moves that mitigate the power and speed of the opponent and even use these things against them. At the same time, karate has a plethora of techniques that allow people to cover their weaknesses and amplify their strengths. This makes this martial art appealing to a much wider audience, and is the main reason why I choose to practice it.

Although I have not chosen a specific technique as my favorite, I do have some preferences. At my age, there are certain limitations I have to cope with to maintain my health and stay safe. I tend to rely more on my arms and fists in a fight, leaving my legs with a supportive role. Training regularly still gives me a sufficient amount of physical activity, even though I might not give each part of my body an equal portion of the exercise.

Many people who learn karate-do it with the hope or intent to eventually reach a level of expertise high enough to compete with others professionally. These competitions are as much about defeating one’s opponent as they are about maintaining perfect form and performing complicated sequences of moves without a slip. I consider them to be the middle ground between the artistic side of martial arts and real-life combat. I cannot deny the fact that I admire the effort some put into achieving such excellence; however, I choose not to pursue this path.

My priorities lay in reaping the most practical benefits of doing karate – health and self-defense. As I have outlined earlier, I am satisfied with the first part as long as I exercise often enough. Protecting myself from potential attackers is more challenging as I lack the physical capability to win a fight without thinking. Consequently, I must consider my restricting factors and contrive a strategy that would allow me to stay safe and effective, should I find myself in a real confrontation.

Being an older person, I have to be cautious of any damage done to me and avoid it whenever possible. Even though I lead a relatively healthy lifestyle, I have to accept that my body is fragile and does not heal as quickly as it used to. It is also not abnormal for any person to do everything in their power to avoid long-lasting injuries such as a broken limb or a concussion. Considering all the points listed above, I have made a logical conclusion that my best strategy would be to end any fight as fast as possible. I am confident that I have the stamina to wear down some opponents, but I feel that it would bring unnecessary risks, which is an unwise route to take.

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As I do to have a particular technique I like to use most, I am going to describe the general plan for my fights. This is typically a defensive scenario, so I would likely start with a series of blocks, followed by counterattacks whenever an opportunity arises. My reactions are very swift, and since my opponent is hardly expecting this level of resistance, I can successfully deliver several hits without causing any significant damage. I plan to use the momentum I gain from this initial advantage to neutralize the attacker as soon as possible, thus, making the situation as safe as I can. In this aspect, my technique is reminiscent of aikido, modern martial art that aims to minimize injury and reduce violence.

One would be correct to assume that the element of surprise is not enough to win a fight, so I have outlined several useful ways to increase the force carried by my punches. This could help people who lack the sheer mass needed to deliver powerful hits without a proper technique, as well as those who wish to use their strength more effectively and be harder to outlast in a fight. The critical part of any attacking move is the weight involved in it. It is common knowledge that the more one’s body moves in unison with the limb that is going to deliver the blow, the more devastating it would be. Even amateurs sometimes know that moving their hips in the direction of the strike is preferable to remaining mostly motionless.

Although that method does have a positive effect, experts state that it can be taken further. By rotating both legs and pushing up with the one in the back, I can transfer more of my body’s weight into the punch. This is often referred to as “exploding,” but I prefer to think of it as supporting my fist rather than throwing it alone at a much heavier opponent. This basic concept of carrying this much of your weight in every blow is crucial to every martial art.

Another vital component of my technique is speed, which is achieved by relaxing my muscles and moving naturally. This might seem counterintuitive to newcomers; however, for most of the fight, my hands should be flexible. I have no choice but to tense my muscles when my fist reaches the target, but it is faster to keep my arms relaxed when I move them back to my body. It is also beneficial to synchronize the movement of my limbs naturally. The human brain is used to moving limbs in opposite directions, so it is only logical to bring one hand forward while retracting the other. Doing so will not only increase the speed of my attacks substantially but will also maintain the same power, as long as I follow the correct technique.

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