One of the biggest differences between us and every other style is the way we approach tournament fighting. On the ‘open’ (open to all styles) tournament circuit, there is a ‘clique’ of people who compete in as many as two tournaments per weekend and who all know each other. When one of them wins or places highly, the word quickly spreads that (for instance) a 540o spinning kick is the necessary ingredient to win. The next week, suddenly all their forms have 540o kicks in them! Tradition has no value, all that matters to these people is the win. In truth, open tournaments are no longer a battle of the martial artists, but of the choreographers!
I want my students to think NASCAR! In NASCAR events, the competitors are in similar vehicles so you can tell who the best driveris, not which sponsor spent the most money on their car! Our approach is more like NASCAR than like Broadway. You can jazz the form up, but only in stylistic ways that do not change the essence of the Art. You can add little flourishes, but not a 540 degree kick, because 540o kicks are tactically and functionally STUPID! Why would I spin around one and a half times to kick you when I can do it twice as fast with no spin?
Worse yet, insurance companies have added another twist to this mess. Because tournaments must obtain insurance before any land-lord will rent a facility to you, and because insurance companies require there be no hitting to the face- guess what?- you’re not allowed to hit to the face! Imagine that. You’re fighting, but you’re not allowed to hit the nose, the teeth or any part of the jaw. In a real fight, you can bet your opponent will have no such qualms!
Maybe some of you saw our recent tournament where I was forced to disqualify our Black Belt Gary Schmidt for smashing the nose of his opponent from Magami. How many of you recall the beginning of the tournament where I clearly stated that we would be doing things differently? We would favor realistic, street-wise self-defense. I explained that anywhere on the head would be a target, as well as the groin (both off-limits in open tournament fighting). Evidently, I didn’t emphasize that we wouldbe hitting to the face strongly enough, because Magami’s girl charged straight in, leading with her face, (that’s what you can do in some in some silly insurance company’s idea of a fight). Well, Gary did what a realfighter would do in that situation— your opponent charges straight in, they get hit straight in the face! I don’t want to produce tournament fighters in my studio. They DO NOT hold up well in a real fight!
Another reason I don’t like the open tournament circuit is that their judges follow certain procedures that lead to inaccurate assessments of the action. For example, the judges have little flags they can wave; one for the red side and one for the white side. The trouble with this method is that majority rules, two out of three judges calling the same point make it so, even if the third judge saw something different. Ninety percent of the points called are actually clashes!
In our system, each judge is queried by the head judge as to what they saw. Then each judge actually demonstrates the kick or punch he is calling and points to the person who delivered it. Based on all this information, the head judge makes a real determination as to what probably did happen, actually judging instead of just counting up colored flags!
So, would you rather win trophies or be able to save your own life?
Which way sounds better to you?
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