For my CIP, I chose to practice Kyokushin–a full-contact form of karate. Coming to Japan, I pre-designated two martial arts that I planned to study: Judo and Kyokushin. I had my Judo experience over the summer in Hokkaido, so Kyokushin was the target for my time in Kyoto.
Sensei and senpai have both recommended that I use a more “relaxed” or “loose” style during close exchange of blows. Due to my boxing training, I use more closed-off stance–as to minimize damage incurred. I prefer to employ a parry-and-counterstrike fighting style, but Kyokushin demands preemption over calculated defense. While I am not completely sold on this strategy, I can definitely see it’s value. I pursue efficiency from the perspective of self-preservation; Kyokushin aims for effectiveness–obtain victory. I seek to disable the opponent while sustaining as little damage as possible. The Kyokushin way is to subdue with overwhelming force, and allows for damage taken–so long as it makes way a greater allotment in return. An efficient fighter wishes to minimize risks, which leads one to sacrifice opportunities to win. In other words, in Kyokushin, offense is defense; but I am of the mind that defense produces offense.The effective combatant does what must be done to triumph and considers the self-preservation aspect secondarily. Due to the associated trade-offs, there are circumstance under which either approach is superior and the other will lead to ruin.
During my most recent practice, I was finally able to utilize a more “relaxed” and Kyokushin-y offense (For an example: There is no evasion in Kyokushin and punches to the head are illegal–a considerable tactical conundrum for one who relies on those methods heavily) in combination with a conscious defensive effort. I am proud of this development because 1) previous attempts to adapt to the Kyokushin way only resulted in impaired performance and subsequent injury (the blending of multiple disciplines with contrary principles while in the heat of battle is no easy feat, I assure you); 2) relaxed focus leads to flow; and 3) I was able to construct a holistically more effective–and surprisingly more efficient–style for myself. My establishing a middle ground between defensive and offensive orientations, I get the benefits of both without much consequence.
My default fighting style is the combination of a number of disciplines. Never before have I had such trouble learning and incorporating into my own style another art. The issue is a mental one. All of my life, I was taught restraint in martial arts. As a once angry and aggrieved young fellow, I can admit that I needed that centering. Kyokushin forces me to walk the cusp of aggression that was always taboo. It makes me uncomfortable; and that is the reason why I must conquer it. A true warrior has balance. It is time for me to once again become comfortable in the role of aggressor–something that us young Black men are taught to avoid if we desire social mobility, lest we be abased as scourge and menace.