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Anf's picture
Training a bit more rough

I'd like to incorporate gradually increasing realism into my training. I have a number of obstacles in the way of that, and would greatly appreciate any thoughts or advice about it.

I train at a very friendly club, which I love. Our training rules are light contact in sparring, with no locks or throws in free sparring, and no punches to the face or strikes of any kind below belt height.

In one step sparring, which is basically choreographed specific attack, specific defence and counter, we are allowed to aim for the face, sweep legs, lock and throw etc but only to the preplanned sequence.

within the one step, we're allowed some minor variation. Basically we're allowed to experiment a bit. Some of us do so. Some of us agree to resist fully when someone is attempting to take us down, so that they must find a way to make it work while being ready to defend from surprise attacks etc. Some prefer to stick to the exact simplified technique with a compliant partner. I tend to work with people who, like me, want to make it work and play with it a bit, so I'm kind of ok on that front.

What I'm less ok with is that I seem to bust too easily. I'd like to be more forceful, and train with partners who also want to be more forceful, but I bruise too easy and frequently injure muscles as it is. I'd like to find a way to kind of toughen up a bit so I can take knocks and such without being mildly injured for weeks.

I'd also like to play a bit with the principles that we use in forms and one step sparring, to experiment with applications and putting things together to see what works etc, but we don't really do that in our club and I don't want to change clubs just because of one shortcoming (as I see it, others may not see it as a shortcoming).

Any thoughts?

Chris R
Chris R's picture

I think that full contact sparring is what you are looking for. I know many karate people have no interest in doing this so it might be hard for you to find anyone willing to give it a try, but if you want to test your techniques and get tougher then this is the best way that I've been exposed to. The key thing is to build up over time; you should start off lightly under professional supervision and go from there. Getting the opportunity to spar full contact was life changing for me in terms of my martial arts training, though this was not offered to me through karate.

If you can't get any sparring partners, or if you don't want to spar full contact, then I would suggest trying to get the most out of your non-sparring training. Here are some things that I think might help:

1. If you want to get tougher, there's a couple of things you can do. Firstly, try to partner with bigger and stronger people over time. If you get hurt easily you might have to start off with people your own size, but eventually you should aim to partner with people who are heavier and stronger than yourself. Secondly you can encourage some contact. For example if you throw a reverse punch to the body in one of your drills that is supposed to stop in front of the target, you could encourage some light contact instead of no contact so you can work on some body conditioning. Lastly, try hitting something other than the air. Getting hold of a bag or even pads to hit can be extremely helpful. As well as improving technique etc, it will help with conditioning and toughness. Don't damage yourself though; use proper protective gear and build up gradually.  

2. In terms of realism, your best bet is to try to get partners who are willing to let you try stuff out on them. During the lessons you should always do as the instructor says, but if you get a chance before or after the lesson or some other time, try to get somebody to do some bunkai/kata application practice with you. Basically try to perform as many repetitions of the realistic stuff as you can. More repetitions re-inforces these skills and will make you better at the realistic side of training.

Hopefully you can use some of that information.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
Anf's picture

Thanks. Good advice. I need to find a training partner with similar personal goals to me. There's not really anyone at my club or in my circle of friends that's up for it. I do have good fun when my kung fu brother comes to visit. Our mock rumbles are always fun, because training in different styles, we always manage to surprise each other. We really exposes each others weaknesses which is really useful, and then we have a good chat and slow motion repeats of what we did at various points in our fights, so we can each see how each other's techniques worked. Unfortunately though he lives far away so I don't get to spare with him very often.