The term “Freestyle” is an activity or sport in which there are few restrictions on the moves or techniques that competitors employ. We call our interactive “fight” sessions this as opposed to sparring which is defined as to make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training. We do more than the restrictions of that boxing rules tend to establish in our training sessions.
Although there are few restrictions we do employ Attitudes of sportsmanship, Respect of our fellow training partners and Safety in which we avoid dangers actions and avoid attacking vulnerable targets. We do often tend to confine our sessions to Sport Karate rules but not always.
Technically as long as participants maintain Attitude, Respect and Safety they have permission to challenge their skills sets. They are not restricted in weapon selection nor are they required to stay standing. It is important though to remember we are in a training session and not a win or lose opportunity. Working with the training partner instead of competing with can allow for a tremendously important opportunity to grow and improve. (See Day 9) Cooperating and Collaborating allows both participants to understand their skills sets better and apply the ACTIONs more successfully. Overtime, it will become important to increase the challenges and to move to Competitive but again risk of injury increases due to the potential lack of control. However, the greater the skill the more control is established allowing for increased intensity and still maintaining of safety.
The interesting thing is that training partners don’t always have to be striking and or manipulating to “Tap!” They can modify their actions to simple touch- I realize for most this is may be too easy but for younger students this allows for a greater sense of ease. As they gain confidence in their skills, we can increase to push and then to strike. The difference we say is touch is an ACTION that makes contact with no penetration simply surface like clothing, then maybe skin. Push is an ACTION that slows at penetration. Strike is an ACTION that increases speed at penetration but penetration is controlled and is minimal. Push Freestyle actually allows for greater penetration than Strike Freestyle.
Freestyle of any group does not require safety equipment. In fact the more realistic sessions are free of safety equipment. There are several misconceptions concerning Safety Equipment. It is thought that it gives the wear protection from a strike. That is really not true. What it does is protect the wearer more when striking. It allows for heavier hitting with less concern for injury to weapons. The impact/concussion is still damaging to the target. If the attacking participant has strong controls of their actions there is minimal need for protection.
The heaviest hitting aspects of Freestyle training still maintains a level of safety as again, we are “TRAINING.” “Full Contact” requires safety equipment so we can train for longer periods. Participants are not attempting to injure each other but are attempting to push themselves to new levels of exhaustion and conditioning. Like other athletic endeavors this level of training is kept minimum frequencies and is saved for “Game” situations or the moment of need. Although bodies can be conditioned for greater levels of impact, overtime the continual pounding will breakdown the body. We as humans are at a point that we can actually execute stronger ACTIONs than the body can physically absorb.
Regardless of controls we maintain a strategy of “Hit ‘em First, Don’t get Hit, Hit ‘em First.” You can fill the first directive to what ever the controls are. If touching it’s touch. If grappling it’s control or lock/choke.
The most important part is to recognize we are training and the goal is to improve our skill sets and have fun interacting with our partners.