The nature of all techniques in traditional Japanese karate are to take out the opponent as quickly as possible, ideally with a single finishing blow or ichigeki-hissho. This is the best way in a self-defense situation, but is hardly the case in an organized fight or duel. Keep in mind that a fighter is someone who is training to win a fight. For example think of an amateur or professional boxer. Everything they do in their training is to win their upcoming bout or string of bouts. Compare this to a karateka practicing kihon, kata and kumite in a dojo, none of which directly/perfectly translates to a boxing ring or MMA cage. What is the karateka going to do in a boxing ring? How about in a MMA bout? Are they going to charge in with a combination of kizami zuki and gyaku zuki? How about demonstrate a kata for their opponent then ask if they want to see the "practical" applications?
I’m proud not to be a fighter, and never wish to be one. However, I constantly hone my techniques to stop an attacker with a single devastating blow. To me, this is the physical meaning of “Karate-do ni sente nashi (There is no first attack in karate-do)”. Understanding and practicing karate in this way will send you in the right direction insofar as self-defense is concerned. If your desire is to become a ‘fighter’ you’d be much better doing another martial art, or at least cross training in one (or several)! But remember it won’t stop there! If you want to be a fighter, just training is not enough! You’ll have to get in fights, because needless to say, that’s what a fighter does, they fight. Either in organized competitions, on the street or both. Like I said before, I’m proud not to be a fighter!
© André Bertel, Japan 2009.