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Practice Control

Many Karate students engage in kumite, or sparring. However, very few students invest time and effort in developing control. Students should be required to develop a high degree of control before they are allowed to engage in free kumite.

A student should be able to punch the flesh without hitting the bone. That is relatively easy.

A student should be able to punch the skin, without hitting the flesh. That is pretty hard.

A student should be able to punch the hair on the arm without hitting the skin. That is pretty easy.

Hitting a gi without hitting the skin should be very easy.

When I strike a student, I usually do so with a loose fist and also hit with the flesh of my fingers between the knuckles and the first joints, rather than my knuckles. When I block, I tend to do so with the fleshy parts of my forearm, rather than the bones. When I strike with the elbow, I actually hit with the forearm or the back part of the upper arm.

My point is that I have many ways to avoid injuring students... and I practice control. Sometimes I practice hitting the surface of the leather pad on the makiwara (the surface skin of the leather). Still I miss sometimes. For certain techniques, I tend to demonstrate on one of my sons... just in case.

Another thing. When you hit from far away, it is harder to control the punch. It is easier to control a punch or strike that is thrown close. I tend to get in very close before I hit, and often apply joint locks or throws before or with a strike. Again, it is easier to control a short hit.

Practice control. When you can strike with surgical precision, it is a simple matter to change the focus to target that have a greater effect.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin