Tag Archives: martial arts fighting method

There is No First Strike in Karate

Hitting First in Karate

There is no first strike in Karate is an old saying. It s also, as plain as it seems, very misunderstood. To explain it people always say things like, ‘you have to let the other guy strike first,’ or, ‘we believe in non-aggressive behavior,’ or something like that. So here is the truth about ‘there is no first strike in Karate.’

Let’s say you’re driving your car home from work every day, and you learn what the community driving patterns are. There’s always a traffic jam at the Main Street light. Kids let out of school late onThursday on 4th street. If you turn left at Town street it is one way with almost no lights.

In other words, you learn to ‘know’ what the driving patterns are in your town, and you adjust your driving to take advantage of those patterns. In the martial arts, such as Karate, or for that matter, Taekwondo or Aikido or whatever, the same holds true.

You face enough students you learn that a shoulder dip presages a kick; a blink is an attempt to hide an attack; a subtle breathing inwards is a prep for a rushing attack. In other words, you learn to ‘know’ what your opponent is going to do.

The beginner, of course, doesn’t know anything. But he faces enough people, pays attention long enough, and these fighting patterns become obvious, and he learns to ‘know’ his opponent.

There are many things that can get in the way of learning to know your opponent. If you let emotion cloud your perceptions then you can’t see clearly enough to ‘know’ your opponent. If you study a system that believes in fighting, instead of developing awareness, you won’t ‘know’ your opponent. If you practice a system that preaches things like ‘adrenaline dumping,’ then you won’t learn to ‘know’ your opponent.

Things like emotion, the joy of combat, using adrenaline in your strategy and practice, these things all interfere with looking at what is happening, and being able to learn to know your opponent.

You see to know somebody you have to look at them, and the looking must not be distracted, and that means cultivating a stillness within, a stillness without such things as emotion or other errant thoughts or occurrences in the awareness.

If you learn how to achieve stillness within, which is to say if you learn to pay attention without being distracted, by emotion, by other things, then you look, and you learn to know.

Now, let me ask you a question: if you can look at your opponent, and if you ‘know’ that he is going to attack, would you striking first really be a first strike?

I hope you see the obviousness of the answer. But if you don’t, then simply continue with your practice. Look at your opponent, learn how to recognize, and to act, upon the twitches, the broken breathing pattern, the dip of the shoulder or the turn of the hip, and you will learn how to know your opponent, and then there will be no first strike in Karate.

The author has near 50 years of karate training. You can tap into his knowledge, learn how to know your opponent, by checking out the books and video courses he has written/produced. His website is MonsterMartialArts.com

Where do You Focus Your Eyes in Combat!

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?


american karate

Very Powerful American Karate Style

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.