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Wayne's picture
Point fighters getting punched in the face?

After watching footage of numerous point karate tournaments(mainly WKF, but some JKA), I noticed a lot of the competitors(even the top ones), seem to get hit very cleanly in the face quite a bit as if they are completely wide open, either seemingly running into a counter or not defending it at all.

  Why is that and what to do to avoid it when competing? 
Wayne's picture

Plenty of examples in this video…


Wastelander's picture

Many point fighters focus on counter-fighting, and their offense suffers as a result. Combine that with the fact that point fighting rules require you to pull your off-hand to a chambered position in order to score, and you have people leaving their heads wide open pretty often. They are also trained to expect the match to stop whenever there is a touch, so if they feel like they landed something, they often completely drop their guard, and get hit as a result. That's my experience and observations, anyway.

Chris Wissmann
Chris Wissmann's picture

I mentioned this in my blog about point-fighting and self-defense, too.

The two biggest reasons involve the emphasis on kicking.

Kicking forces competitors to stand back, where the threat of getting punched in the face is relatively small and the threat of getting kicked in the body is much greater. This encourages point fighters to carry their hands low so they can block kicks, especially against opponents who cannot effectively kick to the head. It becomes a big problem against flexible opponents or when opponents close the gap.

The other problem is a stationary head. You see this in all combat sports that allow kicking. Fighters tend to stand straight up because it positions their faces above where most opponents can easily reach them with their feet—dipping down to avoid punches can get you knocked cold against someone with decent kicking skills.

Watch how well Tracy Thomas avoids Bad Brad Hefton’s punches, but how it sets him up for a huge knockout:


Fighters mainly need to mind which hand positions best protect them within different distance relationships and adjust accordingly. Sometimes they can safely drop their hands, but when circumstances change, so must their guard positions.

I know Iain’s not a fan of holding your hands in a guard position, but if it takes away easy targets from an opponent or assailant, it can discourage attacks while giving you a relatively defensible position from which to launch your own.

Wayne's picture

I’m primarily self-defense focused nowadays, but used to spar(point style) a lot and competed some in my younger days. Some of the things I believe I’ve identified being possible reasons…

-Charging in/lunging in recklessly.

-Dropping the hands, especially the “hikite” hand.

-Rigid, upright posture.

-Standing directly in front of opponent, not using angles.

-dropping into long, low extended stances.

-staying in “the pocket” too long, “posing” to sell the point.

-going to the body, opponent subsequently coming over the top.

-offensive minded/focused on getting the point and not being focused enough on defense.

I did “3K karate” for a long time without any understanding of what I was doing, until I found Iain’s material. I have a lot of bad habits I’m still working on undoing.

An except from a Vice article I read recently…

“The rear hand is always dangling, the head is always high. Allow the hook and a retired Felix Trinidad can enter and be crowned the greatest karateka in the world. This is the reason that at any WKF or JKA kumite event there is always a grizzly knockout—chins are high in the air and hands are low for hikite to score points”