For part two of trying to find a ruleset for sport that will allow a training program that requires minimum alteration in focus from sport to self defense. Last time I talked about how take downs, throws, and ground fighting is necessary for both karate sport fighting, and self defense training. Today we’ll discuss the stand up training. Today all sport/competitive sparring for karate a has very limited number of allowable strikes for an art that has a seemingly endless number of strikes available.

First I’ll start by saying for the sport rule set what I have always referred to as the ‘gentleman rules’ will be the basis of what is not allowed. What I mean by that is the things we grew up thinking were unfair in a fight in elementary, or what would be called a cheap shot by those judging a self defense situation from the safety of the sidelines. Eye pokes/gouges, groin shots, fish hooks, etc. will all be disallowed for the competitive ruleset. One of the biggest divergences from other striking rule sets I would make would be to allow open handed strikes, that includes palm strikes, as well as shuto-uchi strikes. Elbow strikes and knees are prominent in karate kata, but are often banned in karate fighting competitions, I disagree. For Goju Ryu they are very important and must be allowed.

A strike that I would also allow that I have not seen in other prominent striking arts or their competition would be the kokan-uke as an offensive technique or even the jodan-uke as an offensive technique. I believe that these are very effective uses of the techniques both for self defense, and for sport, and their inclusion I think will help give the competitive side a distinct and individual style from other full contact fighting competition styles like Muay Thai, or Kickboxing.

This is controversial in the MMA world now, particularly the UFC, but for a karate based ruleset I believe the kansetsu-geri is a requirement. For those who are not familiar with the Japanese terminology, a kansestu-geri is a kick to a joint, almost always targeting the knee (as kicking the elbow would be a very situational strategy for example) typically in the form of a low side thrust kick just above the joint, just below it, or from behind if you can manage to get behind your opponent during the stand up fight.

Standing grappling is a major part of karate as well, and it’s importance to self defense can be seen in the PPCT and MACH training that is often required by security personnel, police officers, and military personnel, and that will be part 3.