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Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
The future format of competitive karate? (some thoughts and videos)

Hi All,

I was in a hotel at the weekend and while flicking through the channels waiting for the bath to run I came across a report on Russia Today on the Russian team’s success at a recent Kudo international championship. Every time I see this stuff I find myself totally engrossed by it and I started to wonder if this is the future for competitive karate generally?

For those who don’t know about Kudo (AKA Daidojuku) you can find out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daido_Juku

I wonder if the competitive format they use, or variations on it, will become more widely used in other quarters of the karate world and what effects that could have?

Essentially Kudo is a karate / judo mix, but I feel the type of competitive format they use has much more to offer the traditional karateka than the standard format of competitive karate does. While it can be argued that there is no need for any form of karate competition, if we are to have one I think it should not run contrary to karate itself.

Modern competitive karate has moved a long way from the combative art of karate that spawned it. Indeed, if it were not for the shared name you could make a good case for them being entirely separate and unrelated disciplines. The Kudo competitive format is closer to the traditional art (still different, but a lot closer).

Whereas modern competitive karate only utilises a very small proportion of karate techniques, this format utilises knees, elbows, head-butts, throws, locks, chokes, groundwork, etc. It would therefore seem to be an ideal format for the traditional karateka who also wants a competitive format that does not run contrary to core practises of the martial art of karate. It would also see more and more people return to the kata as a source of functional technique and hence the gap between kata and competition would also be reduced.

Whist this is “fighting” and not “self-protection” there is nevertheless a far greater crossover between the Kudo format and the physical aspects of self-protection than there is with the standard competitive format. Again, this would seem to make it a more suitable format for those who want to maintain the self-protection elements of karate and also engage in competition.

Another big plus is that, to my mind at least, the Kudo format is far more exciting to watch. A major downside for those who work so hard to reach a good competitive level is that no one outside of competitive karate cares. I hate to see such hard work, dedication and athleticism go unacknowledged.

Go to any standard karate competition and the only spectators are other karateka or the family and friends of those competing. If people want recognition and sponsorship then karate competition needs to attract the attention of the general public, possibly even television. I think something like the Kudo format could perhaps do that, whereas the standard format has had decades to do so with no success.

Another potential plus is that the Kudo format develops some of the skills needed for people to move into the professional mainstream world of MMA. Currently if you become a karate champion what do you do with that? It’s exactly the same with Judo. However, just as amateur boxing can lead to pro-boxing, the Kudo format would seem to be a good preparation for professional MMA. This would therefore potentially see skilled and dedicated fighters get some financial reward for all their efforts, especially as MMA continues to grow ever larger.

And while talking about MMA, there is no doubt that it is hugely popular with the general public and is here to stay. While the current competitive format is met with public apathy, I think that people may see the Kudo format and decide that this “karate thing” is something they would like to do (having the excitement of MMA but being safer due to head guards and other restrictions i.e. controlled punches only when on the floor, etc). Whether they compete or not, if something like this became the standard competitive format I feel we would attract more people to karate. Conversely, I have found the current competitive format is off-putting to people as it is very complex, difficult to understand (i.e. “why did the guy who was knocked down win?”) and it does not seem “real” to them.

All just some initial thoughts, but I’d be prepared to bet that this will indeed grow in popularity and that a competitive format along these lines could well become the standard competitive karate format given enough time as we see more and more return to wider ranging form of practise. I also think karate generally could benefit from that.

I’ve put a couple of clips below. One is a “show reel” where the Kudo competitions can be seen from 1:37 onward. Notice how much kata methods are in there among all the throws etc. The second clip is an actual bout.

So what do you think? The future of competitive karate?

All the best,

Iain

Kudo Show Reel (Fights Start at 1:37)

 

Kudo Bout

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Hi Iain and everyone, this is a more extreme version of knock-down karate, you'll find as well as the Kudo fighters, a lot of Kyokushin, Ashihara and Enshin fighters like to take part in this type of competition. I definitely think that full contact kumite is definitely the way forward as its popularity grows replacing the points semi contact bouts that we have at the moment.

wayne williams
wayne williams's picture

Hey Iain, this is very close to the jikishin ju-jitsu competition format.  Head guards and gloves, semi-contact takedowns and throws. With the kumite it pauses at a completed throwing technique the contestants are stood up and it begins again. There are also different catagories to compete in so if your ground work is strong Ne-Waza kumite is a catagorie, Randori or random attacks is also a catagorie. Kata and weapons etc. For me the problem with this is its subjective. Someone is judging and using an opinion. I know there are judges in Boxing MMA etc but often it does not get that far, there is no mistaking who won an MMA bout when one of the guys is being woken up. It seems to me that safety in most karate has taken over the whole system. I dont want anyone injured, ofcourse but lets rough it up a little bit eh? So speaks a man well past competive kumite age. Lol :-)

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture

Iain,

I'm glad to see the competitve format changing. I remember back in the mid-70's how confusing competition was. In the dojo where I trained we always practiced continious fighting, much like in boxing, plus throws were allowed. However, when we attended point tournaments it was really frustrating because of the one-strike - one-point rule and the match stopping when you got hit.  Then, after the ref had established who had hit who the match continued but any advantage you'd gained previously had been lost because both contestants were made to stand in their respective corners, or on their marks in the ring.

I'd always been trained and still believe that sometimes you have to get hit to hit your opponent even harder. Also with non-stop fighting the fighters can establish a good rhythm of movement, plus its more taxing than the ole-point fighting. And most importantly, I feel, non-stop fighting forces one to use legit techniques, none of this tip of the glove action, or saftey chop flick which looks good but in truth all that has happened is you've let the glove slap your opponent.

Over here, where I live, continous fighting is becoming very popular on the tournament circuit and two camps are evolving. One that embraces continous fighting and the other which prefers point fighting. Ironically some point fighters are going so far as to say that continious fighting isn't traditional karate. Well, if that's the case then just call me thumper because I always use combinations on the bag.

Mike

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Black Tiger wrote:
I definitely think that full contact kumite is definitely the way forward as its popularity grows replacing the points semi contact bouts that we have at the moment.

Actually this format does make use of points and it not entirely full contact. Points can be scored for combinations to the head (whether or not it KOs people or knocks them down) and all punches to a floored opponent’s head must be controlled. Again, points are scored for such punches. A full set of rules can be found via the wikipedia page linked in my first post.

It’s also not just the contact levels for me, but the fact that such a wide range of techniques are allowed (throws, ground work, elbows, head buts) that makes it a more attractive alterative to the current points format. I also see the safety of the head-guard, certain contact restrictions etc to be a positive as it is likely to attract a greater number of participants.

wayne williams wrote:
Hey Iain, this is very close to the jikishin ju-jitsu competition format.

Interesting! Does anyone have any video links to that format in action?

michael rosenbaum wrote:
Ironically some point fighters are going so far as to say that continuous fighting isn't traditional karate.

Funny how quickly relatively new innovations become “more traditional” than that which has been around for longer :-)

All the best,

Iain

PASmith
PASmith's picture

 We at Shidokan do something similar but have retained the knockdown flavour so we don't punch to the head or wear hand protection. We have limited time clinching and groundwork, throws, sweeps, submissions etc.

We also (try) and compete using the full Shidokan format which is a round (or more) of knockdown, Thai rules and full MMA. A true test off fighting versatility.

I must say the Kudo rules look really interesting though. :)

I especially like the masks as you can go at it hammer and tongs while still looking OK at work the next day.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

If were talking about sport karate ever becoming 'popular' to the masses then we failed, give up..............

MMA beat karate to it, and by a huge margin!

Of course that doesn't make the formats being discussed bad, as IMO they are clearly very good for the right type of person, keep in mind most will not want to compete full contact full stop.

Ultimatly in terms of applicabile self defence skills, I have been guilty of not 'counting' semi contact points fights, yet I recall knocking several people over, a few out and several 'breaks' back in my semi contact days.......seemed effective then! Of course the rules are the rules and the enviroment is what it is.

lcpljones_dontpanic
lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi all

a few years back when i was training with Kyushin Ryu ju jutsu i took part in the Jikishin ju jutsu competition format and i much preferred this to the standard karate semi contacts points system of compettiton. i also remember some years back a chap by the name of Ross Ianacaro (apologies if the name is wrong) who brought out a system of ju jutsu competition((national ju jutsu kumite council, see;http://www.grappleandstrike.com/ ) which again looks a little similar to the Kudo format.

personally i have always preferred a fighting style with the least restrcitions so sport ju jutsu, kudo etc would appeal to me more than the standard semi contact points format. i think it would be better for karate generally for kudo or similar rules to be the norm or stanndard format for karate competition. however i foresee that there are far too many vested interests among all the associations and their little emperors to see one format such as kudo take over from the current situation.

Filip
Filip's picture

Hi,

I agree with the article above and share some past frustration with semi-contact competitions and its lack of popularity.  The last world championships in Tokyo were horrible.  Me explaining to my wife who likes K1.  `Yes, the guy who got hit and is on the floor is the new world champion because the other made exessive contact to a legal striking area...crying"

I wrote a similar article on kudo, which has been posted on the official kudo website.  You can find the English version here.

http://www.daidojuku.com/home/2011/TraditionalValueofKudo.pdf

lcpljones_dontpanic
lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi All

Having done some research on Kudo it is available in the UK if only at a limited level by contacting Sensei Lee Hasdell at mail@kudo-uk.com  or see website at http://www.kudo-uk.com/

Sensei Hasdell teaches the Kudo method and principles and runs small private monthly groups in the Milton Keynes and London areas.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Filip wrote:
I wrote a similar article on kudo, which has been posted on the official kudo website.  You can find the English version here.

http://www.daidojuku.com/home/2011/TraditionalValueofKudo.pdf

Great article! Thanks for sharing that. Those interested in this thread should definitely read Filip's article.

All the best,

Iain

Eric Forsythe
Eric Forsythe's picture

Like the look of it..

Does anyone know where you can get the helmets in the UK?

I have seen this site but 60 quid is steep:

http://www.alsgym.co.uk/super-safe-head-guard-p-262.html?osCsid=0e3e44373a4997a1e8c94cc8e9480587

Any help would be great.

All the best,

Eric

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Here are some more thoughts on Kudo from Peter Consterdine 9th dan (head of British Combat Association and British Combat Karate Association). Peter saw the above clips, and loved them! Below you can find his thoughts on this competitive format, some great fight and training videos, and news of a forthcoming open Kudo seminar on the 15th of May in the UK (I’ll be there and will forward the details when they are finalised). With Peter’s, the BCA’s and the BCKA’s support, this format may become mainstream quicker than we thought? :-)

All the best,

Iain


Message from Peter Consterdine 9th Dan:

I’VE SEEN THE LIGHT!

For years I’ve put my not inconsiderable brainpower(!!!!) into thinking about what would be the finest ‘Full Contact’ competition – and never came up with it. That is until Iain Abernethy sent me a video link to look at and it was the Kudo World Championships and this was my ‘light bulb’ moment. So much so that I’ve spent a large part of the past week going over as much footage as I can to analyse the elements of Kudo competition and I now ‘get it.’ It is simply fantastic.

Although on the world stage, Kudo has a history going back to the early 80s when its founder, former Kyukoshinkai world champion and Judo player, Master Takashi Azuma developed the format, it has only had a foothold in the UK for a few years. Originally, Master Azuma called it Daido Juko, changing the name to Kudo allowed it to be recognised as an official Japanese Cultural Budo sport.

However, this is under the watchful eye of one of Britain’s foremost MMA/Full Contact fighters and old friend of the BCA, Lee Hasdell. I’ve had a long conversation with Lee, after which I’ve been even more convinced that Kudo is as near to the perfect format for a fighting system as it’s possible to get and not just competitively, but as a real and practical combative system, if one trains for the complete range of permissible techniques, which (and because of the equipment) include head butts, elbows and knees to the head and a limited time on the ground and any throw you can make work. You’ll see this if you have a look at the Kudo videos I’ve linked at the end.

I feel within the BCA/BCKA population we have people who would shine at this format and I want to get a combined Kudo squad together and to this end I’ve arranged for Lee to come and do a seminar for us and we’ve pencilled in Sunday the 15th May.

The real beauty of Kudo is that it doesn’t prescribe any specific martial art – so whatever your background you could have a chance of making it work. I’m limiting the numbers for the seminar and keeping the cost down to £50. To get the chance to train with Lee is a fantastic opportunity in itself.

I’ll come back with more details and confirm the date.

3 YouTube Videos

1. Kudo Trainings

 

2. Kudodaido juku Worlds 2009

 

3. Japan v Russia 2009-2010

Peter Consterdine

Ryan Danks
Ryan Danks's picture

I hope this becomes REALLY mainstream. Living over here in the South Western US means I miss out on all the good karate stuff. Las Vegas only has MMA schools and "ninja daycares" anymore.

If you guys get this to blow up, I'm going to make it my goal to come compete in a tournament in 2012. 

Filip
Filip's picture

Hi all,

I just had my first Kudo grading this Sunday.  A bit of Kudo Kihon (Which is really well thought through)... and a whole hour of sparring with the super safe helmets and mouth piece.  Jaw still hurts and ears are still ringing but the face untouched.smiley.   Very nice to be able to spar so freely.

Eric Forsythe
Eric Forsythe's picture

Filip wrote:

Hi all,

I just had my first Kudo grading this Sunday.  A bit of Kudo Kihon (Which is really well thought through)... and a whole hour of sparring with the super safe helmets and mouth piece.  Jaw still hurts and ears are still ringing but the face untouched.smiley.   Very nice to be able to spar so freely.

Hi Filip,

Sorry to butt in.  Just was wandering what the kihons consisted of, the sparring format (like it looks like in the attached video clips) etc.  I have booked on to the Kudo seminar with Lee Hasdell so was looking an idea as to what to expect.  Can you only get the helmets from Japan or is there anywhere else that you know of that does them, I found a site Al's Gym that look something similar?  Hope the grading went well.  All the best, Eric
Filip
Filip's picture

Hi Eric,

Here comes Kihon Keiko:

Punch (everything is repeated 10 times)

- Left Jab - left jab chudan - right straight  - right straight chudan - left hook - ............ chudan - right hook - ............ chudan - left uppercut  - ............. chudan - right uppercut - ............. chudan - Hizi-uchi (, elbow on one count right-left) Kicks (first 4 reps slow, then written number full speed; between different kicks small rest) - Mae-geri (right 10, left 10, right-left 10) - hiza-geri (holding belt, knee up to the chest 10; holding opponent's head, straight knee kick 10; continuos knee kick (jumping) 10) - Yoko-geri (Yoko-keage (stretching your legs by raising right-left leg sideways as high as you can) 10, Yoko-geri right-left 20) - Mawashi-geri (holding belt right-left 10, guarding you head right-left 20) - Ushiro-geri and Kansetsu-geri (Ushiro-geri 30, Kansetsu-geri sideways 10, Kansetsu-geri front 20) - Ashi-barai and Kinteki-geri (ashi-barai 30, Kinteki-geri 30) This all should take less than 20 minutes, and is also a great warm up for the rest of the class. Sparring has all kinds of formats. Mas-spar: is light continous sparring without the helmets.  You shouldn't get damaged from it but get the chance to try out many things. Sparring in stand up grappling:  knees, elbos, headbutts and throws.  No punches and kicks Kyokyushi like sparring Ground grappling And Kudo sparring at all different levels of intensity.  The clips shown are of World Championships.  Sparring in class shouldn't be like a competition fight.  (but op to the trainees.  I had black belts swinging for my head at the honbu in Tokyo) As far as I know, the helmets can only be bought from the Honbu. They are expensive but the best headgear I have tried on. You don't want the plastic shield to break in your face on a cheaper version. cheers, Filip
Eric Forsythe
Eric Forsythe's picture

Thanks very much Filip.

I have bought the book and the DVD with which to work from.

Thanks again Filip, very helpful.

All the best,

Eric

JWT
JWT's picture

Eric Forsythe wrote:
Can you only get the helmets from Japan or is there anywhere else that you know of that does them, I found a site Al's Gym that look something similar?

 Hope the grading went well.  All the best, Eric

I have one of the Al's Gym helmets.  I personally don't rate them.  There is no decent padding to the top of the head, the ties at the top frequently come undone and for most face strieks the design takes all the force thorugh the chin.  To get a better product you can either spend a lot more money and get a Spartan helmet or a lot less and buy a Blitz cage helmet - both in my opinion will provide better all round protection.

Filip
Filip's picture

Hi JWT,

Any links for those helmets?

Filip

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Does one have to practice Traditional Kata as with Kyokushin for this awesome style or is it more freestyle with the "Kickboxing" likened basics/combinations similar to Ashihara/Enshin Kihons

Also does the British Combat Association and British Combat Karate Association cover this type of kumite in the Insurance as a lot of NGB's Full Contact Knockdown Kumite isn't covered under their insurance. I know when I shopped around, as soon as I mentioned Kyokushin style sparring they said sorry they don't cover that.

Thanks

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Black Tiger wrote:

as soon as I mentioned Kyokushin style sparring they said sorry they don't cover that.

Which is ironic really as taking out face punches makes it tough but comparatively safe.

In 32 years of coaching, including champions and spirit prize winners we've never made a claim.   By contrast when we did the old WUKO rules there was blood spilt most nights.

I love the look of Kudo and hope it does really well in the UK.

Gary

Tau
Tau's picture

I've refereed fights that included Kudo fighters. It may be just one club rather than the style that's the problem but I've never come across a group of such poor sportspeople and outright blatant cheats. To be clear this was a Kickboxing competition with semi-contact (including children) all day and then a more formal full contact show in the evening. Adults, children, semi- and full contact, they were all the same. Illegal techniques, no respect for the fighters, continuing to try to strike at the opponent around the intervening referee. As I said, it may be just one club that's guilty but I know that I wouldn't want to ever be involved with Kudo on any level again.

Eric Forsythe
Eric Forsythe's picture

Thanks JWT - ended up getting a few helmets of ebay. Not great but do the job for what we use them for, I'll check out the other helmets you suggest.

"Does one have to practice Traditional Kata as with Kyokushin for this awesome style or is it more freestyle with the "Kickboxing" likened basics/combinations similar to Ashihara/Enshin Kihons"

As far as I understand, there are no kata in Kudo but someone who trains in a dedicated Kudo club would be a better person to speak to.

All the best,

Eric

JWT
JWT's picture

Filip wrote:

Hi JWT,

Any links for those helmets?

Filip

Hopefully not breaking any rules here:

http://www.spartantraininggear.com/store.php 

http://www.blitzsport.com/Grilled-Head-Guard?sc=9&category=45  (significant discounts if you have an account)

Helmets in action:

JWT
JWT's picture

Eric Forsythe wrote:

Thanks JWT - ended up getting a few helmets of ebay. Not great but do the job for what we use them for, I'll check out the other helmets you suggest.

"Does one have to practice Traditional Kata as with Kyokushin for this awesome style or is it more freestyle with the "Kickboxing" likened basics/combinations similar to Ashihara/Enshin Kihons"

As far as I understand, there are no kata in Kudo but someone who trains in a dedicated Kudo club would be a better person to speak to.

All the best,

Eric

Sorry I was so slow in spotting this.

Damian Laszuk
Damian Laszuk's picture

Hello everyone. Again I have problem with responding to Your posts Iain... I would very much like to write something, but after reading everything You wrote I have little to say. And the bits of doubts I might have are destroyed when You answer other peoples questions. After reading You post, and comments I am again stunned with the simmilarity of our thoughts, and oppinions. I Have watched Kudo for sometime and I think that It really is the best ballanced formula between the freedom of fight, and safety of competitors. What goes with this is the best balance between atractivnes for spectators, and fighters, so it shows great possibilities in getting the attention and sposors for the sport of Karate. Moreover [again, as You said it] it is very close to the core and purpose of Karate. Now I am even more convinced to host a tournament based on kudo rules :D

Mitch
Mitch's picture

I like the idea of Kudo a lot, but I was also very much a fan of the Enshin format (still taught in Loughborough by Gary Chamberlain here on the forum) when I trained in that. It seemed to provide a great challenge over different ranges without leaving anyone too bashed up at the end of dojo sparring. The option to grab made a huge difference for me.

Gary's excellent tuition may have had something to do with it too :)

Kudo-style helmets are available in the UK through Playwell if that helps anyone, though I don't think these are the same quality as the proper SuperSafe helmets used in Kudo :)

Mitch

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

That's kind of you to say Mitch.

The Enshin format is designed to be tough but (relatively) safe.  Although people regularly get knocked down or out in tournaments we obviously take safety seriously in training.

All competition is a compromise between safety on the one hand and challenge on the other.  Few want to pay for brain damage.

Gary

EDIT:  Short clip ...