kumite

From the archives, an old mailing list post.

From: Tom Swiss <xxx@xxxxx.xxxxxxxx.net>
To: sabaki@xxxxxxxxxxxx.com
Subject: Re: kumite
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2001 11:50:51 -0400

Our good friend Matt Henderson <musubi@mindspring.com> had a long and
thought provoking post on kumite and other stuff a few days back, and I've
finally got some time to sit down and say a few things about it.

On "Repeating Variations of Human Violence":

I really, really like Matt's concept of "Repeating Variations of Human
Violence" as opposed to certain other terms we've mentioned lately.

"Variations". Yep. That there is a key idea. For example, a punch, a
push, a grab, all variations on the same theme. Understand that theme and
you can handle a lot of different situations. It's like music - once you
know the 12 bar blues progression, you understand not just old school
Robert Johnson stuff, but also "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog", a lot
of surf guitar pieces, and so on.

"Repeating". Uh-huh. If you've seen one heated exchange of words move
to a pushing match move to a flurry punches to a break to more heated words
as those invovoled are separated (very often it's two guys being stopped
from fighting by much saner female companions) , you've seen 90% of bar
fights. You can almost see the script they're following. It's deja vu all
over again. Know the script - for a bar fight, for a mugging, for a
domestic violence situation, any of the fundamental situations - and it's
like being able to predict the future.

And "human". Very, very human. Violence motivated by the human
condition, by ego, by desire, sometimes just by plain stupidity. You've got
to understand that human part, because we're all in this together. What
drives the aggressor? Know that, and you can stop the violence before it
starts - both the outer physical violence, and the inner violence that
we're all subject to.

"Repeating Variations of Human Violence". From hunter-gatherers
roaming the savannas of Africa to gang-bangers roaming the streets of
Baltimore, the human mind hasn't fundamentally changed. Motivations for
violence haven't changed, the human body's offensive and defensive
capabilties haven't changed. Even the advance in weaponry from stone knives
to semi-automatic handguns hasn't changed the basics of human violence.
It's all variations on the same dark theme.

On jiyu kumite:

We Seido folks come out of the Kyokushin lineage, so of course jiyu
kumite is pretty important to our training. But it is only a training tool,
not a 100% simulation of real combat...a lot of the good stuff is illegal,
because otherwise you break your training partners and have no one left to
play with.

Is jiyu kumite _necessary_? Matt lays out a whole bunch of other
exercises and drills that can substitute. So if you don't like jiyu kumite
for some reason, yes, you could do yakusoku kumite, plus impact
conditioning drills, plus timing and distancing drills... Used properly,
jiyu kumite is just a bunch of other drills all rolled into one.

The benefits of jiyu kumite, as I see it, are

- great tool for working on distancing, timing, angles, and fakes

- great tool for learning how to take getting hit and still keep
functioning

- great tool for building confidence, responsibility, mental
alertness, and (most importantly) emotional control

- fun!

I think that point about "emotional control" may be the most
important, though I don't know if I'm describing it right. Let me give an
example: a few months ago we had some students testing for brown belt. This
requires - in addition to all the requirements of kata, kihon, drills,
etcetera - 30 minutes of kumite, in 15 two minute rounds.

The way promotion kumite works at our dojo is this: the candidates go
pretty much only against black belts, or maybe senior brown belts if it's a
big promotion with a lot of candidates. The senior's job is to push the
candidate, keep them moving, not let them slack through it but not beat the
heck out of them...unless the candidate wants to go for more contact. If
the candidate hits hard, during promotion kumite the senior is allowed and
expected to give back as good as they get. (Within the limits of safety
regulations and the supervision of our sensei, of course.)

We had one candidate who started to get into trouble during the
kumite. Maybe he hadn't done enough stamina training, maybe he wasn't
mentally prepared, whatever. But he was starting to get upset. So he
started hitting harder. So he started getting hit harder in return.

I had a match with him about three-quarters of the way through. I kept
the pressure on him, and I could see he was getting more and more
frustrated. Finally, I stopped and said to him, "I'm not your opponent.
That part of you inside, that wants to get angry, that wants to quit?
_That's_ your opponent."

He got it. You could almost see his eyes light up as he understood.
This was not about beating me, or anyone else; it was about dealing with
himself. He finished the rest of the kumite, and the rest of the promotion,
with much more centeredness, and I think his whole training has deepened
since then.

I don't know if he could have been brought to see the point quite as
clearly without the environment of kumite. Fighting the opponent is a very
direct metaphor for fighting your self, your ego.

===Tom Swiss/tms(at)infamous.net===http://www.infamous.net==="Born to die"===
"What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?" - Nick Lowe
"If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die." "Then I die. But I will not go down
easily, and I will not go down alone." -- Kosh and Sheridan, _Babylon 5_

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