Emphasizing the Point

When in the ring learn to put emphasis on the technique you wish to score a point with. If you with to do a 3 move technique with the last move scoring the point, execute the first two moves in such a manner that it make the 3rd move stand out. For example, if you wish to score with a reverse punch then make the first 2 moves short and with 75 percent power and give all your power to the scoring technique. This makes it easy for the judge to see the point and leaves no room for doubt in the judges mind as to whether they should have given you a point for one of the first 2 moves. By emphasizing only one move of the set you make it "easy" for the official to award you the point. 3 strong moves only will cause a delay and confuse the official as to which move they should award the point for. Make it as easy for the judge as possible. 

Along the same lines do not do a second set of techniques immediately after you have already scored with the first one. If you do the 3 move technique as above, score with the third move as you planned and immediately execute a 2nd set of moves, that second set takes away from the emphasis on the point and makes it harder for the official to award you a point for the scoring move in the first set. In effect, it dilutes the point and may result in no point being called at all.

Show No Fear or Intimidation

When you are doing kumite, at no time show any fear or intimidation brought on by your opponent at any time during the tournament. Like wild animals, fear can be sensed. Any show of fear by yourself bolsters the confidence of your opponent and makes them stronger. They will not hesitate to attack you because they do not fear your offense. In their mind they have beaten you before the match has even started. If you fight with no fear, then your opponent then will have no choice but to respect your technique. They will not fight without thinking about being on the defensive when attacking. Fighting with no fear causes momentary hesitation in the opponent because now they are either more cautious or they now fear you because you show you are confident. You are confident in your technique, your training, and your strength. This confidence is demonstrated by not showing any fear of the opponent. Observation of small wild animals such as the wolverine shows you that fierceness can repel a much larger attacker. This is true with man as well. Show no fear or intimidation and your opponent will have no choice but to respect you.

Using the Jogai to Buy Time or to Get Points

Stepping out of ring during a match is called a jogai. The strategic use of the jogai during a tournament can have great influence as to the outcome when points are close or time is about to run out. In many tournaments, stepping out of the ring 2 times results in a half point penalty, a third time results in a full point penalty and a fourth results in a loss of the match. Losing a match by jogai is not common but the half point that may result from stepping out of the ring can mean the difference between a win and a loss if you are tied. Learn to drive the opponent out of the ring with a set of offensive set of moves if they are in position to step out of bounds. One way you can do this is by not giving up any of the ground of the ring to the opponent during a match. Do not try to move back unless absolutely necessary. Upon the start of the match take one or two steps forward. This immediately gives you a 4 foot or more advantage of the ring and moves your opponent that much closer to the boundry.

There are two other times when a jogai can be used to your advantage strategically. This is when you are marginally ahead on points and you are on a running clock (a clock that is not stopped for jogai). You can allow yourself to be driven out of the ring or move backwards. This causes the referee to stop the match, have you go back to your mark, and state that a jogai has taken place. This process usually takes 20 seconds or so. In a critical match this can use up the clock and insure your victory.

The other time that jogai can be used is if you are injured or extremely tired during a match. Often times a blow to the stomach can knock the wind out of you. The point will be awarded to your opponent but you have not got back your wind yet. By allowing yourself to go out of bounds buys you 20 seconds or so while the official stops the match and moves you back to the mark and announces the jogai. Do not do this if you already have jogais and additional ones will result in point penalties unless you are comfortably ahead and can afford the loss of the point.

I have seen competitors use the excuse of needing to check their equipment to buy time but I do not believe that this is good sportsmanship and do not recommend it.

Broken Rhythm

Utilizing broken rhythm while executing an offensive technique is an excellent way to create an opening in your opponent's defense. The opponent's natural defensive training will cause him or her to synchronize their movements with your own. If you move fast, they move fast. If you move slow, your opponent likewise will move slowly as well. By varying the rhythm of the delivery of the technique you are able to create momentary openings in the opponents defense. An example would be to execute a slow and deliberate oizuki (step in punch) to the face and immediately execute a fast reverse punch to the stomach. The opponents defense has slowed down to synchronize with your slow offense and then is not able to synchronize with the increase in speed in time to defend against the attack. The combination of the set may be fast-slow-fast, slow-fast or a combination thereof.

Attack When the Opponent Relaxes Their Defense

Along similar lines to the broken rhythm strategy is the technique of attacking an opponent immediately after they relax after a fake attack. The fake causes the opponent to tense up and get into a defensive posture. When the realization that a threatening attack did not materialize, the opponent will show a sign of relaxing their defense, especially if you relax right after your fake. As the opponent starts to relax after the fake the opportune time to attack materializes. The opponent is not able to immediately raise their defensive shield at the same time as they are relaxing that shield. Timing is key in this technique. Properly executed this technique is very difficult to defend against

Overwhelming the Opponent With Offense

One strategy that can be used to score on your opponent is to overwhelm your opponent with multiple offensive techniques. This strategy does not allow the opponent to easily counter punch or kick as they are constantly on the defensive blocking your attacks and are driven off balance. In addition, your forward momentum combined with the movement backward by the opponent makes it very difficult for the opponent to reverse this momentum and counter attack. It is not easy to block every single attack that is thrown and eventually one of the attacks will find their mark. When using this strategy it is important to stop your attack immediately after a point is scored. To continue the attack makes it difficult for the officials to call the point and any additional moves dilutes the point and the focused intention that you may be trying to get the judges to see and award a point on. Initiate your attack with explosive force so that your opponent is caught off guard and unable to set up an adequate defense or maintain a distance that will protect them.

When to Make Contact in a No Contact Tournament

There are times when making contact in a no contact tournament can be put toward a strategic advantage in your favor. At times you will encounter an over aggressive opponent that does not know how to defend themselves and instead utilize a continual attack as their best fighting strategy. This type of person is a dangerous opponent for several reasons. One, with repeated, multiple attacks it is not always possible to block every attack that is delivered. Eventually you will get scored on. Two, repeated attacks delivered will full force are difficult to control and may result in injury on your part. The solution to this is to make your opponent respect your power and technique by making contact. Good strong abdominal contact will slow the opponent down. A good face punch that is not so hard that it causes you to be disqualified is also good. This strategy will create doubt in the opponent and a slight hesitation in the delivery of their attack the next time they execute a series of offensive techniques. This slight hesitation is all that is necessary for you to start your own offensive set of moves or for you to counter punch or kick the attacker.

Attack, Defense, Recovery

One of the times when a competitor is most vulnerable is when they attack, especially after the last move in a technique is performed. The reason for this is that during the attack your limbs are used for offense and cannot easily be used for defense at the same time. In essence, when you attack you are open to counter attack. It is because of this that it is important to minimize the exposure time during and after attack and to immediately prepare for a defense and then recover by returning to your guard position and move out of your opponent's range. An example would be to execute a reverse punch, upon the retraction of the punch use the lead hand to defend your face as you move back out of range. This minimizes your exposure time during the offense and immediately puts you in a defensive position after the attack.

Focus on Your Opponent's Weakness

When facing off with your opponent try to detect a weakness and capitalize on that weakness by executing a technique that can exploit that shortcoming. The weakness may be one of physical stature in which case you are a taller opponent with longer limbs fighting a shorter opponent with shorter limbs. By utilizing a technique such as the kezami (jab), you are able to punch yet still be out of range of the opponents reverse punch counter attack. Weakness can be a mental one as well. If your opponent seems impatient and anxious you can be sure they will not wait to attack and will come in at the first opportunity. Your advantage is now that you know the opponent will come in to attack. Merely wait with your hand and mind ready to deliver an immediate counter attack upon the first sign of incoming movement. Apparent injury can be used to your advantage as well. If the opponent looks like they have an injury to the arm, attack from the direction that the injured limb is on. The same for an injury to the eye. Come in and attack from the direction on the side of the bad eye as well as to the side of the head with the handicapped vision. This will maximize your effectiveness by capitalizing on the weakness of the opponent.

Injury Avoidance

Avoiding injury is an important part of being able to compete. With multiple matches involved, it is not only the best fighter that wins but also the best conditioned, the smartest, and the fighter that has sustained the least amount of injuries in the previous matches. For this reason it is most important you learn to avoid injuries not only delivered by your opponent, but more importantly, injuries that are sustained by yourself in the course of delivering an attack. For example, if you execute multiple kicks in the early matches and your feet are not heavily conditioned, it is easy to injure a foot or toe. The injured foot now impedes not only any future attacks with that foot but also impedes your footwork and overall body movement ability. Likewise if you already have an injured or weak hand or shoulder, do not utilize this body part in techniques in early matches unless absolutely necessary. Re-injury or injuring the same body part worse is a very likely event. As far as injury avoidance from your opponent, be well aware of your opponent's effective fighting range and work outside of the range especially if your opponent is prone to be an attacker as opposed to a counter puncher. 

Tournament Strategies Part 2