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, Apr. 2016;


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

About timothygrantcarter

Author, Trainer, Pastor, Spiritual Coach, Inspirational Speaker, 12 step follower Thinker, Entrepreneur, Outdoorsman, Hunter, Fisherman, Gardener, and Shotokan YonDan (5th degree black belt). Visionary; Maker of original sayings, slogans and giver of spiritual help. "If God has a pulse, then I can feel it." Nicknamed "Slam" / Creator of #Slamism ... 's on Twitter @cccdynapro
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28 Responses to 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

    • 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. Raja Singh says:

    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. amal says:

    it is so helpful

  4. Tom says:

    I found this helpful

  5. taekwondo says:

    What’s up, I read your blog regularly. Your writing style is awesome, keep up the good work!

  6. Travis Bush says:

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

  7. ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss says:

    awesome it was very helpful

  8. ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss says:

    awesome it has very helpful tips.

  9. vineet says:

    I want to know more about karate training

  10. Swati Jaiswal says:

    I am really inspired by your articlemail. ..I have my first tournament on 1st May 2016…I mean really tensed but I greatly thank you for your superb inspiring tactics…I hope I do my best by your tips and my teachers techniques….Thanks a lot for this huge help….

  11. Hidde says:

    This is very helpful! Going to my second tournament in a week. This will help me!

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  12. Tanmoy roy says:

    Dear Tim,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge. Recently I had a fight in my karate class and I was thrashed big time. The opponent was an experienced one and taller than me but I am physically stronger than him. Since the beginning of the fight I tried to stay away from him and hit a few Mawashigeri’s and Maigeri’s but honestly i couldn’t even connect a single kick and punch. He kept targeting my face and in the process used a wide range of kicks and punches. I feel i was too busy dogging the face punches and in the process my eyesight had narrowed down. Is this normal? Kindly advise.

    • Thanks for the note. Remember, you dared fight in training, so the only outcome besides injury to your pride was your learning & will be your improvement…. With this in mind… ( Let me ask a few of questions before I answer…. What is your rank and what was your opponent’s rank? (How long have you been training?) What was the reach factor, versus your opponent. (i.e.) Who had the longer legs & arms? Are you and your opponent of similar conditioning and flexibility? Also, were his kicks and punches roundhouse stlye or straight line shots? Was this opponent in your own school (i.e.) Can you fight him again? What were your Sensei’s recommendations? Looking forward to hearing back from you….. Tim Carter , a.k.a. “Slam”

  13. fabrice mutanguha max says:

    thanks a lot,your blogs change ma way of practice.I train well within a confidence.
    I’m trying hard,I did not get a champion but I’m stepping forward to grab.

  14. Rumun says:

    I become energy less after a single round of kumite… how can I preserve my energy for other rounds n also how can I increase it?? I also become too nervous in tournament n my heart starts beating too faster. …what should I do? ?

    • Regarding energy, there is no substitute for high aerobic conditioning. Another thing is that very few martial artists know how to breathe correctly. They are winded and unable to effectively continue, because of it. I practice a deep form of breathing. Impossible to show you all of it in this reply but here is a way to work on it, on your own. When you breath in through your nose, watch your tummy go out, if your stomach does not go out when you breathe in deeply, you are unlikely to be breathing deeply enough to satisfy your body’s need for oxygen in a kumite contest. Also, when you breath out make sure your stomach contracts tightly. Time your breathing IN with technique preparation and your breathing OUT with technique focus and execution. Expelling all your air in this way protects you from getting the wind knocked out of you and removes excess carbon dioxide from your system, which can make you feel draggy. Many people do not breath deeply enough because they do not want to see their tummy expanded. But doing this will actually build abdominal and core strength. Try working on this and see if it helps your kumite energy. Also, what you feed your body before a contest can help. Try bananas and peanut butter for sustained energy and Gatorade for hydration and electrolytes.

      Nerves are normal. In the beginning, I used to puke before each match… I don’t recommend it… LOL / Seriously though, I have discovered that isometrics is a way to dissipate nervous energy and control heart rate. Breathe and push your hands together forcefully, several times and in several directions and you will find it tames some of the nerves. Also it will preserve some of your energy for the contest. Also make sure you are well rested before best performance in kumite.

      Try these suggestion and let me know if they help… Slam-

  15. bhumika gaur says:

    Thank u so so very much for all the information……
    Love from India

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