Fighting Spirit

by Sensei Jerry L. Williamson  

     The one aspect of martial arts I have had the most success in, is kumite or free fighting. There are many aspects or processes one's mind goes through when free fighting. The most important aspect is one's self-image. The competitor should always consider one's self a champion until proven otherwise. A champion must think like a champion. If a competitor has a low self-image or low self-esteem, he/she will not develop the fighting edge he/she needs to become a champion. The judges may not always go your way, but you must never give up. Learn from each and every encounter, whether it be defensively or offensively. Sometimes you may not win the match but you are still a winner if you can learn from each and every encounter. A true karate-ka must always show respect and courtesy to the judges and fellow competitors in order to have honor.

     The moment you step into the ring you must demonstrate confidence. Never look down when facing your opponent. and have good eye contact. If you look down, your opponent has the psychological edge over you. Bow and show courtesy to the center judge and your opponent, but keep your eyes on your opponent. It's best to have a calm clear frame of mind with no thought patterns or planned strategy. Maintain a constant defense at all times while being ready and capable to close the gap when the target area appears. Try never to telegraph your technique by looking at the area of your attack. Close the gap between yourself and your opponent by pushing with the reverse leg, not lifting the forward leg and telegraphing. Spring in and out of your opponents range. with your heels slightly raised, ready to attack. In order to have speed you must think speed. Imagine the technique going out and back never stopping. Once your opponent takes a step back, continue the attack until your opponent runs out of the ring or the center judge calls for break. Try to get around your opponent's defense by stepping one way and moving the other way or faint in one direction and throw your technique in the other direction. The objective is to score before your opponent can cover or move out of range.

     There are many fighting techniques one can learn, but learning when to throw the technique and when to move are the difficult parts. Success only comes to those who out think the opponent. This ability only comes through experience in the ring. Remember, courage is the fighting spirit of a martial artist along with  speed, technique and strength combined into flawless action.