Eye Placement During Karate Kumite
There is, of course, the simple yet devious concept of blindsiding. This is to sneak attack, from the rear, by misdirection, or some other means. Assuming that you are going to have enough awareness to survive and avoid the blindside, what are you going to do?
Where are you going to focus your eyes when some mugger or thug wants to blindside you on the street? The other guy wants you to blink, to be unaware. You have to remain aware, and you have to figure out where to look, where to place your gaze, how to keep the visual line of perception open.
The first place I was told to place your eyes, when doing kenpo karate kumite, was on the chest. One was supposed to open up the gaze, see peripherally. In this manner one could use the eyes to perceive a larger area, and not be fooled by an attack from a smaller area, or vector.
The problem here is that when you look at the body you don’t see the human being, and it is the human being, after all that is attacking you, not the body. The body is just a meat machine, and, especially in the martial arts, it is being thrown by the human being. You must perceive the human being if you are going to see who is making the decisions as to how the body is going to be thrown at you.
One Kang Duk Won karate instructor told me to look at the body when doing kumite, and especially the Sticky Hands drill out of Wing Chun kung fu, because the eyes could fool you. I found this extremely interesting, and not good data. It was years before I figured out the error in this type of thought.
The error in looking at the body during freestyle or combat is that the eyes are the windows of a man’s soul. The soul is the human being, it is the soul, the being himself, that is making the decisions. If you look at the eyes long enough, cultivate the concept, through good, solid karate kata training, that you are looking for the source of the thought that is driving the action that is the attack, then you see the human being, and you see the thought behind the action.
In the martial arts, no matter if it is kang duk won or hung gar or Silat, there is no action without a thought behind it. Even a drunk behind the wheel, as unconscious as he can be, is making the decisions. And a fighter, even and especially an MMA fighter, honed to a technical perfection, is going to exude a stillness which, with a little practice, you can perceive the thought within.
So in martial arts, even and especially Mixed Martial Arts, you must look at the eyes if you wish to see what a fighter is thinking. You must look, and train yourself to keep looking, and not be distracted by anything, through all the phases of freestyle. This is the way to cultivate martial arts intuition and the sixth sense you are going to need should you ever have to fight for your life.
About the Author: Al Case has written such classical Martial Art Books as ‘Fixing MCMAP: how to Make the Marine Corps Martial Arts into a True Martial Art, and How to Create Kenpo Karate: The Real History.