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Kumite Tactics

by Seiji Nishimura

Sensei Seiji Nishimura coached the Japanese National Team that competed in the 1994 International Goodwill Championships. A distinguished athlete himself, Sensei Nishimura earned the title of Kumite World Champion in the 1982 World Championships held in Taiwan. Sensei Nishimura is a Wado-Ryu Practitioner and teaches at Fukuoka University in Japan

A Japanese word meaning, "empty" (Kara) and "hand" (te). It is a system of attack and defense that uses all parts of the body (hands, feet, elbows, fingers, etc.) to kick, punch, chop, butt or any other move that is effective in defending yourself. Many of the movements have been analyzed and geometrically calculated so that whatever the action, a block or a punch, it is the maximum the human body can achieve. One quickly learns that it is not the size and strength alone that win, rather speed and knowledge that are the deciding factors in who will emerge victorious in physical combat.

Mental Attitude

When fighting in Kumite, you must have confidence at all times.
Confidence develops from constant practice. Overcome your flaws, sharpening your techniques in which after years of practice you will achieve a state where you can perform your best at all times. Your confidence will also come from having self-control and most important, a strong desire to win. Especially in an international tournament, prepare yourself for the rules, a large audience, and for the referees so you can relax and face your opponent. This requires a strong mind, which does not necessarily come with experience. It requires an ability to judge your opponent without mistake and by having faith in yourself. Practicing like the others will not accomplish anything. You have to develop your own technique, which fits you, eventually to create your own style of Karate.

Tactic #1:
When your opponent is attacking, coming within range is your chance!

It is unavoidable not to have your protection weaken when attacking. Therefore, take advantage of that and counter at the moment. Always stay one step ahead of your opponent. Know your distance and timing. Note: Never wait for your opponent to attack. You must move forward, forcing your opponent to attack or you'll never have the opportunity to counter. Don't block to retreat and then counter; block to counter immediately or your timing won't be right!

Tactic #2:
Attack with high speed aggressively and persistently!

Single techniques are easily "read" by your opponent. Therefore, use feints and sweeps and attacks without pause until the referee stops you. Attacking from the side is effective especially against a larger opponent. Note: It is very important to maintain your opponent within your range. Intimidate him with speed and spirit, using your aggressive attack to weaken his guard so you can attack him from within.

Tactic #3:
Use your footwork to prevent your opponent's speciality!

Moving into your technique from a stationary position predicts your movement for your opponent. If you're moving, you can move smoothly into your technique without losing any valuable time. For these reasons, it is very important to develop footwork that's fit for you. Next, know your opponent's best technique so you can prevent his using it. You can do this either by having a strong guard around the region of attack (if his specialty is upper kick, constantly protect your upper body); or lure him into using that technique, and counter when he attacks. By making your opponent's favorite technique useless, you will have destroyed his fighting potential. When you can manipulate your opponent, by moving one step ahead of him, you will always win.

Note: Footwork requires strong leg muscles and stability. When attacking persistently, it is most effective to use a combination of Jodan and Chudan.

Tactic #4:
Make your body memorize the basic attacking pattern!

Create a basic attacking pattern, which is most effective for you. Keep practicing that pattern so it will occur spontaneously. Note: For use during tournaments, you need not know so many patterns. If you can add a few techniques to your pattern as the situation demands, you will need to know 5 to 10 patterns to be a champion.

Tactic #5:

Never pass up opportunities to take advantage of your opponent's error! It is very important to score whenever youropponent makes an error. If your opponent blunders his sweep and you don't make a move, you are only thinking about how to block or retreat. You have to have more confidence and concentration. Even a well-trained opponent makes one or two mistakes in a match so you have to take advantage of that. As a matter of fact, one who can create a situation in which his opponent blunders, will be the champion.

Note: It is common to see participants who start aggressively and soon tire during the last half of the match. It is absolutely necessary to have enough stamina to be able to move with full power during all three minutes of your match