Training karate for years is not guaranteed to get you ready for The Ring. The main reason behind this is probably the fact that you are doing martial arts with somebody, while in the ring you are bringing the fight TO somebody.
The toughest of the many obstacles you will find on this road might be becoming more of a proactive instead of a reactive fighter.
This is why I have put together this list of things you should know if you decide to bring Karate into the ring.
Kata are an excellent way to develop good structure for delivering and receiving power, and to build up your core strength, focus and balance. The main purpose behind them is to develop the tools necessary to defend yourself against a larger and stronger enemy. Katas also have powerful meditational potential and are one of the best ways of developing and improving what is known as kei-ryoku power, which is essentially the ability to perform efficient explosive movements at shorter distances.
It’s important to remember that kata were designed as a response to common types of attack that the average person would through in a fit of rage. The biggest disadvantage of practicing kata, however, is that there is no physical opponent. Practicing without a reference point of your opponent is not really going to prepare you for a ring fight, as you will lack some essential skills such as timing and judging distance.
For instance, kata bunkai, the study of practical kata movement applications with a partner, is an excellent way to take your skills to a whole new level and develop good defensive tactics, but not all movements can be used in competition – some blows would be illegal, like shuto attacks to the neck, and certain blocks and strikes simply would not work well against a prepared opponent of an equal skill level.
Iain Abernethy, one of the leading experts on practical kata bunkai says that anyone who wants to improve their self-protection skills and wants to attain a deeper understanding of kata should try out bunkai, but we must understand that only certain concepts and strikes or kicks can be effectively used in competition.
Self-defense vs. Competition
Another thing that you should consider is the mindset. This part is very important. If you have been practicing karate exclusively with a self-defense mindset, that won’t be enough when you are inside the ropes or cage. This is a totally different environment and you will need to adapt to these new terms.
The attacker you would face in the street would have adrenaline and alcohol working in their favor, but very few are highly skilled and in good shape, whereas professional fighters tend to be in excellent shape and know what they are doing.
This is why adding new combat skills is an excellent way to improve and get ready for fights. Look for martial arts schools that have several MA programs under one roof so that you can easily train and learn multiple skills. For instance, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an excellent art that can get you ready for grappling and ground fighting, and they usually work with MMA fighters with a broader skill set.
There are some great Sydney Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools where you can meet and spar with people who come from different martial arts backgrounds, so that you can get comfortable at all ranges.
It’s all About Focusing on the Right Tools
Try to make both sparring and training inseparable parts of your training regime. Dive deep into it and try to meet new people and exchange experiences. If you stick to just one technique, chances are that you will be easily surprised and taken down in the ring. Once you decide to experience the fight you will have to update your tools.
Give MMA a try for instance. It is great way to put some extra pressure on yourself, since it is an intense form of physical conditioning and it combines techniques from several disciplines, including Brazilian jiu jitsu, wrestling, boxing and kickboxing. Keep in mind that fights will differ depending on the type of event and the rules a certain federation enforces.
For instance, more people have started getting into Kudo in Sydney, which is a full contact sport like MMA, but you are allowed to hold onto someone’s gi, the fights are more intense and dynamic and you only have a limited amount of time for ground work before the referee stands you up.
When it comes to your Karate skills, there is a great chance that you will mainly be using your powerful kicks and straight punch. So make sure to focus on practicing those. This is why I have mentioned sparring so many times throughout the article – learning how to judge distance and how to use it to your advantage can only be achieved with a real opponent.
Point sparring is out of the question if you want to transition into MMA, as you are likely to pick up some bad habits that will get you slammed on the canvas. The best thing to do is to spar with guys who are as good as or better than you.
As you can see, if you want to compete in a full contact fighting sport it’s not enough to be skilled at your art – you need to be able to quickly respond and adapt to situations where an opponent might not be sticking to a specific MA style. Always work on improving your technique by practicing, reading articles, watching YouTube videos and sparring with friends who are practicing some other MA.