Back in the mid-1970’s, my instructor, Dick Willett, urged me to go to open karate tournaments to supplement my fighting skill set. You see at open tourneys, they allowed full contact to the body and kiss contact to the head (in Brown and Black Belt levels). It was more realistic back then since groin shots were also open. That meant that a karateka could not stand in a open boxing stance that would be unrealistic in a real fight – but rather had to be aware that they were vulnerable to attacks low, mid-level and high.


I started sparring in the school in the white belt divisions (orange, purple, blue, and green) as a blue belt. The cool thing was there were no head shots – so one had to become good at body strikes (a valuable learning tool). I then went to tourneys in white, brown and eventually black belt levels. I was also bouncing at a local bar when I turned 21 (brown belt level for me). This was way before I learned boxing, kick boxing, or dabbled in BJJ – but I had wrestled in jr. high school.


So meandering to the premise of this article, I thought that the school sparring, and later tournament sparring put me in a good position for the many real fights I encountered working two years as a bouncer. At that time tournament point sparring (continuous sparring was only done at schools – not at open tournaments yet) put me in a perfect position to transition to a real fight for reasons that I will go into in this article, but alas I fear that karate tournaments of today, this is no longer the case.


I am not picking on any one organization but here are the rules for the World Karate Federation Tournaments.



And here is one match I found.



Full Story »

Under: karate
26 Jul 2009


Now that you have achieved your brown or black belt and have fought a few open tournaments, you have overcome the pre-fight jitters but want to start winning some matches. Yes you know all of the kicks and punches as well as the next guy or gal but you have not won a trophy yet? What can you do?


In this post I will go over what a tournament is and what knowledge you are expected to gain from fighting at these matches. I will speak to specific strategies that will help you improve you point fighting and I will note how to transition point fighting to self-defense.


You have heard me mention ways to improve you sparring from time to time but to date have not seen me in any of my tournament matches. Well today I have a blast from the past to share with you. Bob Whites Karate Studios has kindly furnished us with a tape of some old team competitions from Parker’s International Karate Tournaments! I’m not sure of the year but my best guess is about 1979 or 1980. Please have a look and then I will go over some strategies. I am wearing a black top and red gi bottoms.


Full Story »