It is often said that competition Kumite in recent years has distorted the true core of the martial art. In other words, we often see techniques that are far from being well executed but they are fast and on target, and hence effective in the point system. This fact proposes a very interesting question, in competition which is more important: to reach the target regardless of the trajectory of the technique, or is the trajectory as important as reaching the target itself.
This is a complex and tricky question, because when you think about it, by weighing the trajectory vs the target, we´re leaving out very important issues on the judgement system. However, many competitors and referees think this way, it doesn´t matter how well or bad you kick or punch, if it’s on target, then it’s a point.
I disagree with that statement. I truly believe to my core that with that mindset, the kumite we´ll see in competition in ten years is going to be a soulless karate, in other words and to make a more graphic example, it will be like eating without being able to flavor anything.
I have often said that I´ve been lucky to train with many great instructors. But when that great instructor writes something you should pay special attention because that doesn´t happen often. So this time I want to share a concept that of the Japanese Archery called Yaiki. I first came around this word in 2011 in Tokyo, but just recently my Sensei Hitoshi Kasuya wrote about it and it´s worth reading it. It illustrates and adds to the discussion. This word basically summarizes the entire point.
There is a word “YAIKI” in Japanese Archery. It means the moment of arrows. Even if an arrow hits the target, we can see if the way of hitting it is bad or not. You might think that if the arrow hits the target, the way of hitting is not so important. However, if the arrow has bad “YAIKI , the arrow can hit the target, but cannot go through an armour or board.
This can be applied to the techniques of KARATE. First class Karate Player’s techniques make people shudder by their speed, power, and control. Immature players can play with speed, but lack something. Though they might get points, not to improve their techniques with thorough going practices. This is same as bad YAIKI, which lacks something essential in martial arts.
In sports, getting points tends to be considered important. Actually, many Karate instructors teach players how to “win” the match. However, although Karate has an aspect of Sports, It is yet based on the concept of BUDO, martial arts.
Karate is not about winning, the way of winning and the process of challenging a match is most important. In this process, players learn many things, not only technique but also mental toughness. Doping issues and illegal acts by judges and players in Olympic games are a warped aspect of the doctrine of winning.