Ippon Karate-do

by Arijit Chakraborty
(Kolkata, India)

In Tokyo with Kamiyanagi Shihan 9th dan WSKF President

In Tokyo with Kamiyanagi Shihan 9th dan WSKF President

The essence of karatedo is Ippon waza, one single decisive technique. There is no scope or opportunity for a second strike - that is the underlying meaning.

As senior instructors of karate do, we are familiar with the concept of ‘ikken hissatsu’. It means – to kill or destroy with one blow. This is an age old maxim of traditional karate do. In the olden days, karatekas actually put them into practice by:

1. Daily serious Makiwara training
2. Frequent practice of Tamashiwara or breaking techniques.

In kumite practice or in a real encounter, there is little scope for a combination technique. By kumite, I mean actual BUDO-KUMITE, specially the strong and tough JKA Style kumite. A single Kizami zuki or a mae geri or a Gyaku zuki decided the match and still does. Old JKA karatekas who are reading this will surely agree with me. Senior Masters like Sensei Nakayama of Shotokan, Sensei Higaonna of Goju ryu, Sensei Mabuni of Shitoryu, Sensei Suzuki of Wadoryu all stressed upon acquiring an explosive technique - a sure dependable, devastating outburst of power, capable of causing extensive damage on the target So these great Masters insisted on simple basic techniques, they urged students to practice fundamental techniques more and more, until they became second nature. And at the time of requirement, would explode out naturally on the target.

Master Funakoshi often reminded students saying that ‘If you solely put all your power, timing, strength and mental fortitude in a technique, there is almost no need for a second technique.. if you need it, it shows your first technique was not committed enough’ I was fortunate enough to have trained under Sensei Mikio Yahara and Sensei Pemba Tamang formerly of JKA, both these renowned Senseis ingrained within us that karate is about Ippon-Waza, one serious strike or kick is the decider. In fact, Sensei Yahara later made this Maxim, the motto of KWF, his organization.

In today’s world of tournaments, championships etc. serious karatedo has taken a back seat. Students and instructors are interested more in state and national camps, championships, certificates and gradings. To stop this negative influence, hard daily Makiwara training, development of focus, i.e. KIME, development of KIAI, aiming towards better Tamashiwari performance, and forging an uncompromising , relentless frame of mind i.e. FUDOSHIN , a mind which is calm yet strong, relaxed yet alert , should now be our focus area. Karate do is not about 8 rounds of bouts, it is only a competitive aspect of karate to make it more interesting, popular and attractive to young students. But karatedo has a much deeper implication.

Karate do was, is and should be a MARTIAL ART. A karate ka should develop him/herself into a weapon, powerhouse, an avalanche of strength and fortitude. This is the reason why Masters like Funakoshi, Nakayama, Enoeda, Kanazawa, Tanaka, Yamaguchi, Yahara, Suzuki, Mabuni, Kasuya, Osaka et al have said that competition and combination techniques are important in their own place but we must not forget the BUDO aspect of karate because karate is a martial art and not merely a sporting event.

During training, all traditional masters, especially JKA Instructors under many of whom I personally trained, stress on ‘more in, more in ‘i.e. mental target should be beyond the physical tangible target. They teach us to have full commitment in our single technique. This is the essence of IPPON- KARATE DO. As Funakoshi Sensei said, ‘When you block, block like a mountain, when you attack, attack like fire’.

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