Black Tiger Shotokan Karate- Hara Kenkojuku Florida Martial Arts Dojo
We often get questions from prospective students regarding the level of fighting (kumite) we
do at the Dojo. All sparring in the Dojo is controlled and supervised. That said, Karate is a
contact sport and on occasion there is bound to be some light contact. Recently one of my
good friends and instructor in a local Dojo shared the following that I think best explains why
we train so hard in fighting: 'The more you sweat in peace, the less you will bleed in war'.
Meaning that the more you practice the better you will be in a conflict situation should one
ever occur, and the more likely you will be to come out of such a situation the victor with few
or any injuries.
Kumite does not have to be brutal, but it has to be realistic. Outside of the Dojo, we will not
have the luxury of negotiating 'rules of engagement'. When we train in the Dojo we
condition our minds and bodies to react in certain ways under certain circumstances. Since
Kumite is one of the disciplines we train in, then it stands to reason that we must train our
bodies to become accustomed to being attacked and on occasion having to experience contact,
and then reacting by counter attacking. Soon, contact is welcome, as well as inevitable. Just
as it is reasonable and probably inevitable to expect that at some point in our life we will
have to defend or protect ourselves from harm or attack.
Kata vs Kumite - is one more important than the other?
Recently we have taken part in discussions relating to Kumite and Kata. Some have asked
which is better? I think first we need to understand what each represents. There are many
instructors who say that Kata is unimportant in training for developing a competent Martial
Artist and many don't even teach Kata at all in their Dojo. Their argument is that most
techniques demonstrated in a Kata are seldom used in 'real' circumstances and that the
carefully arranged movements in Kata are inconsistent with real application.
Of course we totally disagree with that premise. Kata, in our opinion, is essential to training
because it consists of blocks, kicks and counter attacks that are first taught in basics (Kihon).
Kata is designed to ward off an imaginary opponent(s), using those basic techniques. But it
takes the concentration and imagination of a well trained student to bring reality to the Kata
In Kumite (sparring) those same blocks, kicks and counter attacks learned in Kihon and Kata
are used in a sparring situation. The countless hours of training, both in Kihon and Kata, result
in the effective use of those techniques when sparring. At our Dojo, hard contact in not
allowed or condoned. Likewise, face contact is also never allowed. It’s always been our
position that if a student needs this type of contact and training then he/she would be better off
in a full contact school situation.
Traditional Karate is an Art Form. In order to be fully proficient at it, both Kata and Kumite
are essential parts of training. Neither is better than the other because both are essential for
proficiency in Karate.
Random Things to Ponder
The following is a short verse...but it says a lot with a few words:
PROVERBS: 4:7 - Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And with
all your getting, also get understanding.
When we talk about Karate and Karate-do, this applies perfectly just as it does in
all ways of life.
Perez Sensei and I have been very fortunate to have had extraordinary Instructors and close
relationships with our many Senior Sempai. Personally, my one regret is that I did not spend
more time with my Sensei. But I consider myself also extremely fortunate to have had the
years that I did train with him and afterward a few good students over the years to carry
forward what I have learned.”
Peter Spence Sensei