Competition karate has changed, but there is no change in strong spirit for most competitors. Competition karate used to be much rougher, at least for sparring. The pads on the hands did little more than protect knuckles from teeth and tearing skin. The timing was practiced in such a way that if one caught the person coming in (sen-no-sen) and hit them hard enough to drop their opponent it was the other persons fault, therefor the person that threw the technique would get a point. If you look far enough back, karate-ka were allowed to kick in the groin, make hard contact to the face, and continue with serious injuries by means of showing spirit and Bushido.
Even though some of this can be found, the majority of competition sparring does not allow such activity. It is more about movements and skill of obtaining a point and has a more understanding of a game, than combat. Accidents do happen, spirit and adrenalin take over, and some of the older advanced levels will always retain the old ways of competition they learned at an earlier time. The excitement still continues and so does the warrior spirit behind the techniques with less people get hurt.
Karate traditionalists teach and encourage the sport element of karate, it remains an art, and continues for the true purpose of self-defense for whatever outcome is deemed necessary. Sport karate continued as a vicious activity from its beginnings just short of a nearly barbaric activity at times if not for so much respect involved. But, beginnings in the 1960s into the 1990s the sport side became more of a non-contact activity, at least ideally. Now as its exposition looms in the year 2020, the timing and use of accepted contact has all but been taken out. The people of the older time often say competition sparring has become almost just a game of “show” and “tag.” That does not mean the old ways are gone, it mostly remains closed within dojos away from lawyers and the some softer-eyes of new generations.
Just as in all karate, competition kata has also changed, as arts should, within the parameters of keeping with traditions not meant to change. That does not mean to lose sight of the old ways; that should be revisited.
At the Shotokan Karate Dojo, all form of karate competition is taught, even to be able to fight like the old days if necessary, in a competition or dojo that might accept it. However, our competition is taught as a no-contact sport element to karate-do. We support and attend local, national, and international karate tournaments. The local tournament circuit is olympic style, locally modified WKF/USA Karate rules and regulations. It is done and supported by olympic qualified judges and referees with trained local officials carrying out the most professional karate tournaments anywhere.
Our staff is highly trained, with Sensei David Gould being a decorated competition veteran nationally and internationally. The competition skills developed in the Shotokan Karate Dojo are safe, elite, fun, and can contend with anyone anywhere.
“Times change, the world changes, and obviously the martial arts must change too. The karate that high school students practice today is not the same karate that was practiced even as recently as ten years ago, and it is a long way indeed from the karate I learned when I was a child in Okinawa.” – Master Gichin Funakoshi