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Teishutsu Karate - The evolution of the Empty Hand


Karate, literally meaning "empty hand", is broadly divided into semi-contact and full contact styles. While there are several popular semi-contact karate styles, like Goju Ryu, Shotokan and Shito Ryu, full contact is largely dominated by Kyokushin karate worldwide. The difference between semi-contact and full-contact is essentially in the nature of competition fighting. Semi-contact is a point based system, relying on how many valid strikes you can inflict on your opponent without causing injury (emphasis on speed and minimum contact). Full contact is based on how much damage you can inflict on your opponent with full power strikes to the body and kicks to the face (emphasis on power and maximum contact).


Although effective and reliable, full contact karate (or any karate for that matter), does not focus on grappling, takedowns and ground fighting. The entire rules of competition dictate stand-up fighting, with immediate stoppage as soon as one of the competitors hit the floor. This is where Teishutsu Karate steps in.


Teishutsu Karate, translated literally translated, is Submission Karate. It is still a relatively little know modern evolution of karate where not only full contact striking is taught, but also close quarter grappling, takedown and submission techniques. It is a holistic combat system that is designed to teach a student how to deal with any situation, grappling, striking or both. Needless to say it is a much more effective self defence system than either grappling or Karate alone. Due to its striking capability, fighting off multiple opponents is taught to the practitioners. Due to its deep emphasis on grappling techniques, practitioners are taught effective takedowns, clinch and ground fighting as well.


Although similar to MMA, Teishutsu Karate competitions utilise rule sets that are designed to be much safer. For example, while standing, opponents can use all permitted karate competition strikes excluding vital point attacks, head butts, elbow strikes, finger strikes, hammer fist and open palm strikes. But, while on the ground, no striking is allowed and competitors must rely on grappling techniques to gain advantage. Point scoring depends upon effective strikes, takedowns, ground control, guard passes and sweeps. TKO and KO is possible either by strike or by submission.


A lot of research and development is underway in India to produce protective gear that is ideal for Teishutsu Karate Competitions. The idea being to make competition fighting as close to a street situation as possible, and, at the same time very safe! For a detailed competition ruleset, the reader can get in touch with the author over email.


Due to the nature of Teishutsu Karate and the large syllabus of striking and grappling techniques taught, it is indeed a tough martial art to master. Experts say it takes a minimum of seven years to earn a black belt, and the journey to this coveted belt must include competition experience. The end result of all this training is to produce a well-rounded black belt knowledgeable about all known formats of hand to hand fighting.


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Nik Seo
Nik Seo
May 06

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