Wednesday, 15 April 2020


While 基本 (KIHON)—the training of the fundamentals—certainly “…is based on stationary and ido-kihon”, it must not end there if one wants to develop highly effective techniques.

This is the mistake of many so-called ‘traditionalists’ who limit their kihon practice to the classical techniques, extracted from the kata. This is, incomplete fundamental training as there are several other aspects that MUST BE TRAINED. So what specifically are these?

1.     自由組手の基本     (The fundamentals of jiyu kumite)

2.     インパクトトレーニング     (Impact training)

Let me explain both of these, as just practicing jiyu kumite techniques randomly in any way and arbitrarily ‘thumping things’ is not sufficient… 

1. 自由組手の基本     (The fundamentals of Jiyu kumite):

(a) The fundamentals of jiyu kumite, in the case of those who practice karate as bujutsu, are not techniques to win competitions (although they can be, if full contact competition or 'old school JKA shiai' is the aim). These kihonwaza are the techniques of ‘classical kihon’; nevertheless, they are executed in how you will use them in a real fight, so they are more natural in form. However, they fully express the biomechanical principles, tactical templates—such as tight and wide trajectories, and power of the classical movements. In fact, only by a strong and well-maintained base (in the ‘classical kihon’) can one execute effective jiyu kumite no kihon (which retains karate’s innate character of ichigekk-hisatsu: via the achievement of kime in each action).

(b) These fundamentals must be practiced not only in 自由一本組手 (Jiyu Ippon Kumite) and 自由組手 (Jiyu Kumite)—and their many variations, but also as 打ち込み (Uchikomi). 

Uchikomi in its most basic form is controlled impacts with maximum speed on a training partner. It looks dangerous, because it potentially is. However, even though the maai is exact (which, if not controlled, would severely hurt the training partner), and the speed/power is maximum: the waza connects but does not damage them. This is the epitome of 寸止め (Sundome). Just to confirm—THIS IS NOT SPORTS KARATE. The point of sundome is not at full extension, or penetration of the weapon. Therefore, if sundome is not adhered to, the percussive impact on the opponent will be at its maximum. Clearly, this is impossible, even for professional fighters: as this would result in an abundance on injurieswhich would be nothing more than nonsensical.

Accordingly, Uchikomi, while controlled, is rehearsal for hitting with maximum power, with the correct maai/distancing and so forth… Clearly though, all of this practice is also not enough. Full power impact must be made to create reliable weapons and to provide real feedback for advancement of effectiveness.

2. インパクトトレーニング  (Impact training):

In addition to the above methods, we must train our waza to be explosive and penetrating; that is, to be ‘reliable’. This requires hitting with the concerted intent to transmit destructive impact to the respective target. There are many aspects to this. Firstly, the type of technique and the optimal distancing for it. Secondly, the target and optimal weapon(s) to cause maximum damage. Thirdly, developing explosive speed and use of natural energy: body weight, gravity, ground power, forward momentum/propulsion and so on. In sum, one cannot only ‘hit the air’ , we must impact with our fighting techniques (on both static and moving targets with maximum concentration of power). Irrespective of one’s form, without this aspect, karate as a form of self-defense is unambiguously unreasonable. I have written about 'Air Karate' in the past, yet very few have changed their approach. This is an underpinning principle of the International Karate Shotokan. However, it is my hope that more groups around the world independently take up this mantle.

To conclude, impact training completes the full circle of kihon. While 'jiyu kumite no kihon' and 'impact training' intelligibly cannot exist independently, these practical aspects of fundamental training are utterly essential. Otherwise, KIHON IS NOT COMPLETED. Osu, André

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

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