Friday, July 1, 2016
Saddened By Today's U.S. Karate Fighters
My thoughts on Karate Fighters haven't been good over the past several years. In looking at my Karate style, Shidokan, for years we hosted national and international events featuring some of the top full contact (bare knuckle Karate) fighters. Events like the Sabaki Challenge, World Oyama Ultimate Challenge, Shidokan Open, etc. featured many of the same fighters competing at all of these events. A lot of fighters from the US and Canada (Norm Rivard, Tomaz Kucharezki, Moti Horenstein, Bo Medenica, Ralph Linares, etc.) would throw down at these and other international tournaments. As the Shidokan open transitioned from Karate only to Triathlon events, Karate fighters slowly faded from this new challenge to be replaced by kick boxers and mixed martial artists. These new fighters would put on a Gi, fight under bare knuckle, kickboxing and grappling. Whether they were black belts in Karate didn't matter. Karate groups started to separate and stay to themselves. Sabaki is primarily done by Enshin Karate fighters, World Oyama tournaments are primarily for World Oyama guys, etc. Karate groups stopped supporting each others tournaments. Their dojos focused less on full contact to get more students. This is cool, but gone are the days when instructors told students to fight and they fought. As an instructor I have been disappointed in the lack of commitment some of my so called fighters have displayed. Many young fighters say they want to fight, but get scarred and don't follow through as opposed to facing and overcoming fears. I promoted Karate, Boxing, and Kickboxing events. Boxers are always the easiest to work with. Reason is most guys who box are going to box. Whereas most people who take martial arts (i.e. Karate, Taekwondo) are not going to fight. In looking at Knockdown Karate in particular, it came about for Karate people who wanted to fight for real instead of in theory or in light contact. Now these styles have become like the non contact styles. I can go to Europe, Asia, South America, etc. and Karate fighters there will fight with no problem. American Karate fighters are different these days. The used to fight (kickboxing, bare knuckle, MMA, etc.) because the style was presented as a no nonsense practical style. Now if you want to fight, it's much easier to go the Boxing, Kickboxing, or MMA route, because they are the no non sense fighting outlets these days. I am not optimistic about contact Karate in the U.S. Every time I go to a Karate event abroad, I shake my head about what is going on here.