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The Three K's Of Karate

Written by Ben Lee

The Three K Ben Lee demonstrating Kata

In this article I will explain what the three k's of karate are and also the importance of each of the k's.

The three k's are:

So first of all we will discuss Kihon in detail.

Kihon is the foundation of your karate. It is a way of learning and practicing all of your basic techniques and combinations. From practicing kihon you will learn to move from stance to stance gracefully forward and backward, while performing a blocking or striking technique. Sometimes kihon can get repetitive which may seem like a bad thing but even the constant repetition is for a reason.

The reason for this is that if you repeat a technique over and over again it will eventually become muscle memory, so that your body will do the technique without your mind having to think about it. The technique will become automatic, just like you would automatically switch on a light switch in a dark room. Most of what you do in a dojo is always done for a reason, such as the shout from the instructor, which tells you when to perform your technique is there so that when you get more advanced, you start to pick up on the intention of your instructor to shout and therefore move just before he shouts. This means if you can pick up on the instructor's intention to shout you can pick up on an opponent's intention to attack.

Next I will discuss Kata.

Kata is where it all comes together, it is a pre- arranged set of movements designed to demonstrate the principals, techniques and movements of karate. Kata doesn't just teach striking and blocking techniques, it also teaches the throws, locks and sweeps of karate. Kata are practiced alone no partner is needed only a good imagination. You have to imagine an opponent is attacking and that you are blocking or doing what ever the movement in the kata may be. As my Sensei would say "when performing a good kata you should see ghosts but when a kata is mastered others will see your ghosts".

When performing a kata you should have a good idea of what the bunkai or application for each movement is, if you are just moving and chucking your arms about you might as well just be dancing. You have to know what the application for the movement you are doing is. Kata has other meaning as well as just fighting techniques in a pre arranged order, kata along with the right breathing is also a form of moving meditation designed to relax and empty your mind of all thought. I will go into kata training in more detail in my next article.

Finally I will discuss kumite.

Kumite or sparring is an important part of your karate training. There are many ways of training in sparring. I will stick to three: first Sanbon- kumite (three step sparring), then Ippon- kumite (one step sparring) and finally Jiyu- kumite(free sparring).

So Sparring is a great way to improve the effectiveness of your technique and find out what works and what would not work. Sanbon kumite is pre-arranged most of the time, and you only attack three times and your partner will block three times and counter on the last attack. Sanbon- kumite will give you a taste of ma-ai (space relationship) the distancing between you and your opponent and also timing , if your timing is wrong your block will be to late or to early causing it to fail. While performing sanbon- kumite the attacker must attack with feeling and aim for the opponent. It is no good throwing lazy techniques. Also it is a good idea to vary the speed of your attack, sometimes slow and sometimes fast. This will help the person who is blocking to develop timing and not get into a rhythm.

Next there is Ippon- kumite or one- step sparring. This is the same as three step sparring only there is one punch, you block and counter. The principals are the same as in three step kumite, distance, timing and attacking with intention. When practicing Ippon- kumite try to keep your mind clear, relax and let your body do your techniques from muscle memory.

Finally there is Jiyu-kumite or free sparring. In Jiyu- kumite nothing is pre-arranged, you act and react on your own. Free sparring is great for developing reflexes and learning when and where a technique fits in or works best. When free sparring don't concentrate on trying to win, think of not losing. Even if you lose, it is a good thing you have to look at where you went wrong and correct your mistake for next time.

These are the three K's of karate. I hope the information in this article as been of some help to you. Just remember all of the K's, Kihon, Kata and Kumite are all important aspects of your karate training. Don't neglect any of them. So for now train hard and good luck.

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