one from one hundred

a tedious and unnecessarily detailed analysis of a single jiyu-kumite half-point

the following video is a short clip taken by a spectator at the "1 vs 100" kumite event held on the 1st anniversary of the club. there was a good turnout for the event, and the challengers ranged from white belts to fifth dans. we were privileged that sensei dave austin, 5th dan, was keen to support the event and help raise money for the smile train. an accomplished karateka of many years experience, sensei austin came ready to fight! watch the video and see if you can pick out all of the details that are discussed. in the detailed analysis, screen captures will show up enlarged when you hover the mouse over the small version (javascript should be enabled in your browser). a slow-motion version of the video follows at the end of the description.

normal speed video:

if you are interested in competition fighting, this is a neat example that contains some good and bad issues that once you learn to identify, you will see often. it is my hope that having the analysis from the point of view of someone who has fought (and lost) more fights than i remember, will give you a head-start on working out how you fight, how your opponent fights, and how to adapt and improve.

initial conflict, my attack

in the beginning, there is a brief informal acknowledgement that the point has begun, but dave is already light on his toes and moving well (capture 1). the relaxed stance, with a looseness in the hips, disguises small movements and gives nothing away to the opponent as to what techniques are likely to be used. he tests my response by edging into range (capture 2), a distance that makes him a threat.

my response is to move away to maintain the distance (capture 3). this move makes me waste energy and gives away information about my reactions. knowing that i have just been made to react, i decide to launch an attack rather than wait for his next move. on the next bounce, i draw my back foot in to set for a move forward, at the same time as using my forward hand to attempt to mask the shift (capture 4).

dave is already aware of the attack and is moving back preparing to defend. my reverse punch is short, but has him on the retreat (capture 5), and the combination is revealed as cover for ashi barai while his feet are moving and therefore vulnerable. this double attack can be useful for making people move their feet off the ground where the sweep can be effective. the sweep connects (capture 6).

unfortunately for me, while the sweep succeeds in moving dave's foot, is not good enough to take him off balance (capture 7) as he is able to recover the foot into a balanced stance. i follow in with oi-tsuki, but it is neatly blocked (capture 8) and dave immediately counters with gyaku-tsuki (capture 9). fortunately for me, having been put off balance and turned slightly by the sweep, the punch does not land. at this point i am still fully committed to moving forward, so rather than attempt to withdraw i continue the attack, throwing a kizami-mawashi-geri. this kick does appear to land (capture 10), but is not of sufficient commitment to count as a scoring point.

at this point, i have lost momentum (this is common to people used to competition fighting, since the area is limited), and the clash is almost over. as the foot lands from the kick, i begin to retreat; meanwhile dave throws two punches (capture 11) that are out of range and, realising the distance, switches to a head kick (capture 12). having already moved away, the encounter is over and, withm no points scored, (capture 13).

intermediate positioning

at this point after my failed attack, i do not want to let the initiative fall away from me, and so i attempt to stop the formation of rhythm with a shift and a feint forward (capture 14). again, my move forward is evaded and i can find no easy way in (capture 15). we return to stand-off. my plan at the moment is to not let dave take control of the fight, because i'm not confident i can defend his attack. at the same time, i want to show a variety of techniques, so as not to be predictable. dave makes a shift, looking for an entry, but does not attack over this great a distance (capture 16). my next move is to feint with the hands, covering the step in for mae-kizami-geri, but is easily defended (capture 17). in order to prevent or to defend the counter, i get my foot down quickly, and we both decide not to attack rather than risk losing (capture 18) .

sensei austin's attack

after this exchange, dave begins to attack first by sinking to gain tension - that is to say, potential propulsion - in his legs (capture 19). the initial attack is a kizami-tsuki, which i am able to block (capture 20), but at this point his back foot is already moving quickly in. here is where the knowledge dave picked up form his very first move will pay off.

see how committed the step in is , and how much ground is covered with the back foot (capture 21). maintaining contact with dave's front hand, i am now retreating swiftly as the sweep comes in. i am fast enough in retreat, looking for ground that will let me counterattack, that the sweep misses my front foot (capture 22).

unfortunately for me the sweep is deep enough to catch my other leg (capture 23). this throws me off balance as the foot withdraws, and my counterpunch misses (capture 24).

dave's punch is no less committed than the sweep, and lands well immediately after. score! (capture 25) dave's following punch is a tiny bit short due to my retreat (capture 26), which continues as dave breaks off the attack, having won (capture 27). dave is humble enough to confirm with me that the score was valid before he leaves.

useful lessons from this analysis

note that throughout the point, sensei austin has been able to conserve his energy, at the same time as making me expend mine, and the only attack he launched was successful. there are actually a lot of similarities between my attack and his; what is the essential difference that makes the difference between mine failing and his succeeding?

there are lots of important concepts applicable to jiyu-kumite that are illustrated in this point:

- relaxed, loose stance
- commitment in attack (compare actual distance moved)
- combinations of attacks to multiple levels
- swift withdrawal after attack
- not wasting techniques/energy
- mutual respect
- attempt to control fighting area
- attempt to control initiative

the video below is a slow version (one-quarter speed) of the same point; see if you can identify the moments of attack and withdrawal, rhythms in the interim parts, and pay close attention to the footwork. nothing works without appropriate footwork.

slow-motion video:

the stream of the '1 vs 100 event' this point is taken from is here

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