„Karate art and sport competition” Jadwiga Skurska
Practising Far East styles of fighting became a very common phenomenon. One of them is karate that arose as a mixture of traditional fighting coming from Okinawa and Japanese traditions of budo. Karate is being practised by thousands of people round the world. People at different age practise it. There are children, youngsters, adults and older people among them. Karate became a tool to create and maintain fitness and strong character. It became the way to lead the life.
The great karate masters always stressed that you cannot be an expert in fighting if you do not strive for perfection not only in a physical sense but also in psychical and mental ones. When, in the twenties of the 20th century, the master Gichin Funakoshi was introducing the Okinawa style of fighting on Japanese islands it was to be a tool to shape characters and fitness of young Japanese people. Modelling such features of character as persistence, humility, kindness, modesty and creating stable emotions were an integral part of the process of training. The main idea of karate is achieving skills, which enable to prevent situations of direct physical confrontations with other people.
Part of people who practise it, young people in particular, can find a lot of pleasure in sport competition. It is a new field of activity in karate in comparison with the ancient fighting coming from Okinawa and China. Kumite is one of the forms of competitions in which competitors fight according to strict rules. Kumite came to existence after karate had been introduced to Japan. It was influenced by a traditional Japanese way of fighting known as kendo. Most of later karate masters previously had been kendo masters. Samuraias’ swords gave place to bamboo ones in kendo.
In karate arms and legs took the role of swords. Mastery in using karate techniques is being measured by the technique, which is able to put the opponent out of action definitely in the shortest time. It is the idea of a finishing blow. Such a technique has to be directed at a definite point with maximum force both in physical and psychical meaning. Such explosive concentration of all physical, psychical and mental powers at one point is called kime. Masatoshi Nakayama, Gichina Funakoshi’s desciple, writes in his book "Best karate"that:"Kime is the essence of the karate techniques. You can achieve kime while blowing, kicking or blocking. Techniques that lack kime cannot, in any case, be treated as true karate, does not matter how similar they may look. Sport competition cannot be an exception." This idea has to be obligatory if sport competition is to have the spirit of true karate. Kendo fighters have defenders, while karate fighters are not protected that way, so no contact is possible. The question is how to cope with the idea of the finishing blow and the rules of safety? Everything depends on establishing definite rules.