Be First! Initial Movement

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: karate
30 Oct 2007

In sport karate we have a saying – Be First! That means as far as a point karate standpoint – being first is everything. Let me explain, in the open tournaments I use to fight in from the eighties, the most points in two minutes, won the match. While it was true that sometimes some sloppy but effective techniques would ultimately win bouts. I think generally that a practitioner that can hit their opponent first would also win in the street.


“What?!” you may be thinking? A point karate practitioner that merely hits first for the point, be able to fight his way out of a paper bag? Let me explain. In a self-defense situation, one is defending against all manner of fighters. Some fighters are highly trained as a fringe group’s members might be but others have some form of beer muscle! Bullies try to prey on the weak members of humanity whereas most trained fighters don’t waste their heard-earned training on illegal activities. 


One time I was working the door at a bar and had to defend myself against six guys. These guys came into the bar after a hard days work and had been drinking. I tried to keep a couple of the younger members from entrance but quickly had to come to blows with the group!


I had to half flip out the grips of several guys and I tried the ploy “Fight like a man! One at a time.” The first big guy came at me and I defensively stepped back and allowed his punch to miss and counter punched to his face. I worked this ploy of using timing, movement and countering on the three biggest guys and then had a mass attack to defend against. 


I moved in half-circles, striking with initial movement whenever one of them came into my critical distance. My years of sport karate became useful because I could easily hit any of the bullies that happened to step into my critical distance, with initial movement.


Initial movement is when a fighter isolates every part of his or her body and starts moving the attacking part of the body first. There is no “flinching” to give away movement. The punch or kick should hit the mark before the attacker has a chance to react. If you flinch (like move your whole body in the beginning of the punch) the attacker also reacts – maybe in time to move or block. 


I came out of the mass attack just fine because of my years of sport karate training and skills such as be-first and critical-distance. Had I come against experience fighters and not beer muscle – years of sport karate would have put me in good stead but the fight would not have been nearly so easy. Luckily I also have with Chinese Kenpo Karate, self-defense techniques, semi to full contact sparring practice, and lots of mentors that have helped form this fighter over the years.


The mass attack came out ok because of practiced sparring methods. There were just three opponents left in a circle around me when the police drove up. I had fought them to the point they could not throw anything that would work against me. They were tired and could not hit me… and when they would commit – they would pay for it (I smacked them good)! 


American Kenpo Karate signed up two cops that week after they heard from the six guys that attacked me – how they could not do anything to me. So I say to you in parting – Be First!!!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Comments are closed.