If you’re going to master Kumite, you’d better know how to fight inside and out.
Growing up in a small outport, when the spring ice started breaking up and got too ‘slobby’ to go ice panning on, we were constantly reminded: ‘Mind yourself around the ice! Keep your distance!’ Otherwise meaning stay off the ice for fear of mother’s wrath!
In Karate, keeping your distance is fundamental to the Art – Maai, or engagement distance as Jesse Enkamp refers to it, is fundamental in competitive Karate. Staying right on the peripheral edge of where you need to be to engage your opponent is critical. Stray slightly inside this edge and you’re in the combat zone; slip slightly outside this edge and you limit your attack possibilities. A concept from Kendo, correct Maai is life or death – no different than engaging a knife attacker.
Having said that, enter Tuidi, an Okinawan term for fighting techniques used in close. We Shotokan people never want anyone to get too close to us or to grab us in an altercation, but in case someone does, you have to have a few tools in your toolbox. After all, if we look at Kata, every move is an engagement move: attacks and destructive defenses, the stuff that happens when you cross the invisible combat line.
Seizing someone’s neck, an arm lock and break, or dislocating an opponent’s shoulder aren’t pretty, but neither is losing a real battle. We need to get to know our Tuidi.
Once again, Karate imitates life: fundamentally most important is what happens on the inside.