Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finalization! The theme of Oliva Sensei's Kumite Seminar

Richard here, with my take on the Oliva Seminar!

l-r David (Seiritsu foreign student), myself, Oliva Sensei, Lawrence, Wessel (Seiritsu student)

These are the 5 steps to executing a precise technique written in Japanese - explained below the pictures.

When an attacker comes in, one single technique to score. When they stay still, double techniques. When they move back, multiple techniques, the best being 3 point skills.

This picture Carl has explained about all the things a fighter needs to take into account.

I won't repeat what Carl has written, but I want to point out the main theme of the seminar.

Scoring a point. Properly. With finalization. Of which there are 5 stages and 7 distances possible.
For every technique thrown, it needs 5 stages to be scored.
1. Observation. From a safe distance, the fighter observes the opponent and all the other aspects of the match (time, score, refs, coach, etc) and makes a choice.

2. Preparation. the technique with an approach, including a feint, a misdirection, an irregular tempo, all to throw off the opponent of the incoming attack.

3. Execution. Good execution of the attack without damage.

4. Retraction. Quick retraction of the technique to cleanly demonstrate control.

5. Finalization. Return to a safe distance or push foward to a safe position, both from which the fighter can attack again.

The morning session was divided up into 3 one-hour segments. 1) Reviewing what is a scoring point. 2) Defensive tactics. 3) Combination tactics.

The most interesting part was watching one person stand up still in hachiji daichi and their partner throw a full speed gyaku tsuki at their stomach with the level of control needed for a jodan head punch (uniform touch only, no actual body contact) and see Sensei decide if the technique could have scored or not. For most people, especially Japanese fighters used to just diving forward, steps 4 and 5 were weak. Either the students were hitting too hard meaning too much contact from not controlling their technique. Or they were over extended. Or they didn't complete - finalize! - properly with a clean retraction and back to a place of safety. Or they didn't use their whole body torquing in and out of the technique.

Torimasen. No point. It amazed me at the seminar how many techniques he said would not score in the WKF system, so much I was skeptical at first of this one part of his teaching. But when I spent the full 4 days at the WKF Worlds, I felt a moment of enlightment, wow, I think I get what he meant, because for me the thing that stands out the most at the tournament was how much torimasen was given by judges. Soooo many techniques did not score because the fighter did not use their complete body and follow the 5 steps above. It was perfect to have the tournament right after the seminar to really see what he was talking about.

Fully precise techniques adapted to the WKF rules.

The best defense is using both arms, one rising the other dropping, while twisting the torso and sliding out of the way but in a position to counter. The drills Carl wrote about standing at the wall were designed around this.

Brain. Heart. Body. Different fighters utilizes different aspects to fight, none are better than the other, but each are good to know as to whom you face and how to change one's own behaviour.

Sensei defined distance was defined as one full zenkutsu dachi length or longer between fighters was long, a little less than was medium, and half or less was short.
There are 7 distances: very short, short, short medium, medium, long medium, long, very long.

A fighter who mainly fights with his heart uses his muscles next and brain last. They like to score in the first 30secs of the match always at a short distance. They only go forward and they have little control. Their rhythm is the same and they want to push to the other side of the mat. They don't listen to their coach. According to Oliva Sensei, a typical Japanese or Asian fighter.

A fighter who mainly fights with his body, then brain and then heart likes to score in the middle 1 min or so of the match. They like a medium distance, very good with leg skills, their tempo is smoother, up and down, good foot work and they like the center of the ring. Oliva Sensei said he sees type of fighter most often in African countries.

A fighter who uses their brain first followed by heart and lastly body likes to score in the last 3osecs of the match, they use a long distance, they can move in various directions, their tempo is irregular, and they like to fight in their side of the ring, if not moving all around it. Oliva Sensei said he sees this type of fighter mainly in Europe.

(I had this goofy thought about why there were there so many Europeans in the finals at the WKF champs. Maybe it's because of the stereotype white people can't dance, they're movements are all quirky and irregular! While not good for the dance floor, this is maybe great for kumite as no one can time their rhythm hence expect their attack, perhaps maybe even getting frustrated and a headache from watching them move all herky-jerky...)

Now these are just his observations and of course there was a variety of types he said.
What he did stress, much of this over dinner at night, was that most people forget parts of the 5 steps of scoring a point, so it is like trying to drive a car with one wheel. All the wheels of course need to be working together.

A long attack requires a short defense turning the body and slipping to the side.
A short attack requires a long defense slipping to the side to gain distance.

Attacking is done pushing off the back leg and defending it done pushing off the lead leg as one twists off the linear line.

A beginner fighter needs to work on the 5 steps straight through from one of the 7 distances.
An intermediate fighter makes their tempo irregular, provides false information to the opponent to cause them to make a mistake like dropping a guard or throwing an attack, and then the fighter executes their own precise attack, with their recovery normally setting up the next technique.

Another way to look at this is first training the 5 steps, then developing irregular movements in the 5 steps to throw off the opponent, then finally being able to alter the 5 steps for winning the championships, but he didn't talk much about this stage. He said of the 5 steps he really only taught 3 (execution) and 4 (retraction) as to learn his whole system would take 2 weeks of study 2x a year for 3 years if we did the homework he leaves us.

It sort of reminds me of the long term athlete development 'LTAD' of training to train, training to complete and then training to win.

Well, Gekkan Karatedo, one of the 2 most popular karate magazines in Japan (the other being JKfan magazine) sent a reporter to the seminar who stayed for the afternoon and took many photos, lots of notes and interviewed Sensei, then more pictures of him punching me!

What we plan to do is organize a seminar series between Shiramizu in the Kanto area (Tokyo) then have some friends in other dojos around Japan host seminars so that we can bring Sensei over for 1 to 2 weeks next year.

He also kindly gave me his huge kumite system textbook, written in Spanish! After listening to Mr. Estevan Perez spewing off Spanish instructions to the many Spanish speakers at the worlds, I feel like I need to learn Spanish, in a hurry.
More soon!


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