The Impact of Competition on Modern Shotokan Karate
4th Dan Lesson Thesis – Adam Cockfield
There are many reasons given by Karateka as to why they started training, the ability to learn
how to defend oneself is high on the list, along with general physical fitness, discipline and
also the fun aspect. The draw of the competitive side of Karate isn’t generally very high on
the list, yet very quickly we find ourselves thrust into the competition environment,
especially younger Karateka, to ‘test’ our newly developed Karate skills. Competition then
very quickly becomes the focus for the majority of Karateka, it gives us a goal to focus our
training around, it provides us with a challenge both with ourselves and our peers and the
competitive aspect allows talented Karateka to shine providing that boost to the ego that
keeps us always striving to get better.
Sport Karate also provides us with many valuable lessons firstly it teaches something that is
almost impossible to teach in any other manner, courage, which is a hugely important
characteristic in any Martial Artist. It trains a Karateka’s ability to react to being attacked,
rather than rely on pre-rehearsed Kumite routines, Funokoshi understood this point when he
said “composure during tumultuous circumstance allows for spontaneous action and
reaction”. Sport Karate also helps us develop fast, accurate and decisive techniques, which
separates what we do as a Martial Art from just fighting.
In my role as SSKI squad coach, I take this part of my Karate training very seriously both for
myself as an active competitor and for my squad who are a young and talented group.
However I do view this side very much as a minor part of my Karate training, and not the
sole focus of it as I personally feel there are many other areas within my Karate that are
equally if not more beneficial to train in like bag work, Kata Bunkai and more realistic dojo
Kumite. However in many clubs the training is either geared directly towards competiti