Fight training tips for students preparing for karate tournaments. (expanded to include a few outside the ring, tips).

This article has proven helpful to hundreds. I hope it will help you! Slam-

last edit, Oct. 2015;


Ok. I promised some of you some karate related help from time to time. If you are teaching students for tournament sparring. This little outline I developed is a great tool to help you get your students ready.

     If you are a student getting ready for a fight; these guidelines will help you as well.

fight training

creating openings

  • eye deception / look one way, strike another.

  • strike up, to create opening down

  • strike down, to create opening up

  • move left, strike right

  • move right, strike left

keeping cover   

  • lateral cover will protect against lateral strikes  

  • vertical cover will protect against vertical strikes  

  • Practice a fighting stance that keeps your head down  

  • Practice a fighting stance that guards your ribs 

  • Practice a fighting stance that guards your face  

defending a charge

  • deflection & trip

  • most chargers are open low

  • use their momentum to hurt them

  • strike vital targets with ferocity

  • get behind them to strike

  • take the legs out

  • We live in a MMA take-down world today. You can not use the following in a tournament ring, because the damage to the opponent is too great but if you must defend a charge in real life. Remember, you can always break the legs with a quick thrust kick through the front of the knees. / Also,  when a charger comes in to take you down; a quick rabbit punch or knife hand strike to the base of the skull or upper neck with ferocity will take an opponent out. You can not use this in the ring but it may save your life in the street.
  • Sensei Tim leading students in kicking drills.
    Sensei Tim leading students in kicking drills.

As a general rule:

  • When an opponent turns in front of you attack fast & get inside before he has a chance to finish and focus up on the technique. An opponent is vulnerable, as they turn in front of you.

  • When an opponent turns in front of you & you can not attack fast, withdraw, dodge or duck and counter immediately after the technique passes. It is hard to defend a fully executed spinning backfist or kick; withdraw if you can’t attack fast.

  • Either way; prepare yourself to attack or withdraw to an opponents spin. Practice with an opponent.

  • When an opponents back is to you can be a great time to attack!
    When an opponents back is to you can be a great time to attack!
  • strike first 

  • strike fast

  • you can’t win, if you don’t strike

  • strike even if u think he got the point, unless instructed different by ref; 

  • never lead with reverse punch

  • Remember, as a general rule: if the opponent has longer reach; get inside.

  • Remember, as a general rule: if the opponent has shorter reach; stay outside.

  • fight your own fight. do not mimic the opponent… Use your own techniques.

  • u might still get the point for superior technique and it will put fear in opponent 2 hit you

  • move but pace yourself, control your fight, breathe….

  • Special Note:  

    • Remember a skilled fighter is more likely to use straight punches and unskilled fighter is more likely to use a “haymaker” or wide arc punches.

    • Therefore, to catch an opponent off-guard. You are more likely to catch an un-experienced fighter unready; with a very explosive, fast, straight direct, punch.

    • And a skilled fighter is used to skilled fighters throwing straight, direct punches at him in training, so he is more likely to be surprised by a well executed J or U punch. Remember if you throw a circular punch, you must cover well, while you do or you will get your clock cleaned.

Master simple defense strategy:

  • Getting ready for a fight, especially as a beginner means you are not going to be Bruce Lee; accept it.

  • 1- Practice and master a strong x block. It can be directed up or down and protect u from the strongest of assaults.

  • 2- Practice 1″ training.. Hold your hand directly in front of your nose; open palm and move it laterally left or right to block and incoming face attack. You will see that it only takes about an inch either way from center, to defend your face. Have an attacker execute punches to your face and practice this before a fight. This is a simple and effective way to guard your face. Do not move more than the inch you need to block the punch or this opens you up for another technique. This is a Powerful defense technique for beginners.   /// A natural follow-up to this training is to:; practice a palm heel back to the face, following up your 1″ block to the right.  And practice a backfist across the bridge of the nose, following up your 1″ block to the left. This can flow so rapidly, with such a natural explosive energy that they are unstoppable. You must exercise control in the ring with these, because fully executed they are devastating with destruction & injury power.

old reliable: The 1,2

  • jab, then punch 

  • jab, then kick

  • practice combinations before the fight, use them in the fight.

  • fancy looking displays do not win fights, solidly landed strikes do.

  • Listen to Sensei in the corner, I will see things that you do not.

  • keep your foot positioned inside the feet of your opponent.

  • We obey the rules but the first rule is to prevail

  • Don’t get hit, worrying about the rules; win the fight…

Important Training Preparation: 

  • And Don’t forget, there is no substitute for conditioning.. Train until fatigue. Intentionally train until you are winded. Train aerobically, very high intensity the whole month before the contest. 

  • If you can not breathe, you can not win.. Make sure your Sensei teaches you how to preserve your energy and strength by effective, timed breathing.  During the contest; BREATHE!

  • Important Note! You will get hit. It is best to prepare in your own dojo, with a competitor in your school who does use some controlled contact with you. You do not want the ring to be the first time you have ever felt a kick or a punch. This is part of the competition and growth. Focus on the next attack. Expect contact and continue the contest, when it happens. It’s no big deal. It’s a necessary part of learning to fight.

Make up your mind in advance that to compete is to win. You can not lose.

To lose is not to try.

And even if the judges declare you did not win the contest, still the experience still advances your learning & training.

Go get Em!

2012 Karate Plaque

14 thoughts on “Fight training tips for students preparing for karate tournaments. (expanded to include a few outside the ring, tips).

  1. Hmmmm. This is all so new to me Tim. I have thought about taking some sort of martial arts before…more like kick-boxing…and more for the health and fitness benefits…but self-defence is important too…especially for women. Also, Noah has so much energy, we thought martial arts might be good for him. For now, it is all about hockey…but you never know what the future may hold. And if I ever need advise…I know where to come! Thanks Tim! Smiles….Lora

    1. Yes Lora, Karate has been a big part of my life. I will be glad to advise & help in any way that I can…. I have a post on self defense for women, earlier in my BEAM life that you may want to read. :)

  2. Tnx….for all these tricks and tips….i wish it should help me… fights…..I know i have to fight wid my technique….and i like the most in this that…..u had told… left and strike right… mean i have show my opponent jst the opposite wat im going to do…..tnx a lot n lot for these all ur awesome tricks and tips….

  3. Great blog/article. I especially like the pic of Joe Dupaquier going after someone with his back turned. That guy never hesitates for anybody!

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