5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Wastelander's picture
"Random Attacks" Competitive Format

When discussing practical applications and training, we don't typically discuss karate competition, because the standard competitive formats for karate simply don't fit our idea of what karate is. That's why I was quite intrigued when this video came up in my Facebook feed today:


When I watched it, I was skeptical of the "random attacks" claim, since the competitors seemed to be teammates, so I checked out the website. Apparently, there are 40 "approved" attacks that this organization uses, and the referee picks one at random for the attacker to execute, which the defender then needs to deal with (without knowing what attack was chosen). Reaction time and technique effectiveness seem to be the key criteria for judging. I, personally, think this seems like a fun/interesting competitive format. Even more importantly, though, it will promote the practice of effective, practical karate, because if people want to win (and, let's face it, people like winning) they will have to explore and drill practical self defense techniques. It certainly has its flaws, as all things do, but from the looks of it, I think it's much better than the competitive formats we currently have in karate! What do you all think?

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

Looks like it has value as a training method and I like the idea of performing competitively in front of a crowd and judges to get a feeling of tension and nerves going. Of course, you have to see its limits too in that the attacks may not be known but are certianly not "surprise attacks", the opponent only gets one shot, no realistic lead up to the attack (e.g. dialogue, posturing) no multiple attackers etc. I also saw quite a bit of show-boating in the responses used, which seems at odds with the judging criteria of using "efficient" techniques.

I guess you can think about this in one of two lights. It could be made more useful and realistic as a self protection drill but then would lose the competitive appeal or you can keep the competitive aspect (and thus the psychological benefit of performing) and make concessions to the realism. Or I guess you could do both versions and reap all the benefits!

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

The stuff in the video just made it look like demo-style ippon kumite, with a mildy randomized element.

Th0mas's picture

...Slightly more relevant to self protection than team kata competitions. Problem is that like everything to do with performance competion, it is always about the spectical - the "hard-edge of reality" in this context is the score, not hospital... overtime it will become for pragmatic training the equivalent of the chocolate fire guard of team bunkai.  

Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture

I admire this format from a functionalist perspective because it creates a movement towards practically minded martial arts.  While I don't believe that this format provides competitors with a great metric against which to judge their actual ability to defend against unexpected violence (for reasons already mentioned), it does promote the idea that the martial arts are meant to deal with unexpected attacks in the quickest way possible (as opposed to sparring matches that can take 20 minutes.)  It also looks like a format where martial artists from all backgrounds can compete and have a blast!

On the other hand, I just took a look at the rules, and this format still seems very rigid and formalized (right down to the style of dress competitors may wear...which must be a gi.)  Attackers are also required to signal to their defenders if the technique will come from behind or occur with the defender lying on the ground.  If it is a ground technique, the attacker will perform a hip throw without the defender offering any resistance prior to actually beginning the technique.

It might be a fun and creative exercise to invent modifications to the format that might remove some of the rigidity or introduce a heightened level of realism.