I train in and teach Kyokushin Karate. One of the things that I love about my style is the simplicity of it all. Yes you read correctly. At its core Kyokushin training consists of three main elements: (1) technique, (2) forms, and (3) sparring. These are sometimes referred to as the three “K’s” after the Japanese words for them: kihon (technique), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
Technique is everything in Karate. Some may disagree with that but without technique you can not gain perfection. Masutatsu Oyama, once said that after 1,000 repetitions one could say that one could perform a given technique. Only after 10,000 repetitions could one say that one had mastered it. Some students may think that they master certain move more quickly however the premise is correct. To many student rush their training, like a race to the black belt, of course they could not rush their training if they did not have a willing Sensei. Part of the mastery of technique in the martial arts is a mastery of self, which leads to perfection of form. If someone tells you they attained their black belt in 2 years (730 days) or 3 years (1095 days) ask how often they trained.
Kata is the synergy or technique and skill. Performed correctly the student will visualize his/her opponents for each move and execute each step with the appropriate power, speed and focus. Masutatsu Oyama was slightly more generous with forms; saying that after 1,000 repetitions one could say that one had mastered a given form. Since Kata is technique in motion and if we focus on technique first this statement makes sense. I equate Kata to dance or moving meditation, like either the movements must be fluid and natural, which can only be accomplished with a quiet mind. When we first begin to learn a Kata we must think to learn the succession of movements but with continued practice the moves should become instinctive, second nature. Only then can the Kata begin to flow as an expression perfect technique in motion. Many discount Kata because they don’t see the immediate benefit of performing Kata, yet those with patience learn from Kata, clarity of mind, new applications of old techniques, and gain muscle memory for most situations. Kata is the core of training the Martial Arts mind and sense.
Kumite or Sparring is the goal for some students and the bane of others. Regardless of your motivation for practicing the Martial Arts sparring is critical to maturing your skills. Some students and instructors believe in full-contact sparring from the beginning, if you are in the Military or live in DC then I would agree, but for most students this can lead to very bad habits and flinching. Like training in Kihon and Kata training that progresses is better. I prefer to start students sparring with defined rules, including light contact, defend only, hands only, or feet only. In this way students are provided a safe environment where familiarity and trust is built with themselves and their fellow students. Trust is important. Most students have day jobs or classes and are ill served with facial bruises or broken bones. Control of one self means having the ability to inflict equally a light strike or rib crushing blow. While students need to understand what it feels like to get hit and how to take a hit, they need to be ready for it both physically and mentally. Sparring should be frequent and fun.
These are my thoughts and experience with the 3 Ks, be flexible and adaptable in your training for tunnel vision is something you want in your opponent not yourself.