View Full Version : Ashihara Karate: Kuzushi and the balance between sport and street

3/25/2017 6:23pm,
Just got back from Japan and I'm currently in the process of transitioning from my hometown Bjj and Muay Thai club to SBG Manchester. Whilst doing this, I had intended to train Bagua on the side on days where SBG classes were inconvenient schedule wise. The plan was to train at SBG 4-5 days a week (which would include two striking sessions, two Gi sessions, two nogi Jits sessions and a Wrestling class) and practice Bagua twice a week.

The Bagua attracted me because I felt, and still feel, that it offers something similar but different. It was taught in an alive manner with concepts/techniques not completely alien to Judo, Wrestling etc. but with a unique twist and a different training methodology. Unfortunately scheduling issues means it would clash with SBG. This brought me to the local Karate club, which provides lessons in Ashihara Karate, a full contact style derived from Kyokushin that most here will have heard of, and "Japanese Kickboxing"- essentially Kyokushin styled Kickboxing built around the K-1 rule set.

I know that there are a few Kyokushin practitioners here and would like to hear their thoughts on the benefits of knockdown to their striking game. My main interest in it is as something I can do until a later age, as I don't want to be sparring with head punches and relatively heavy boxing gloves regularly in twenty years time.

3/25/2017 6:27pm,
In the process of waffling here's some background for the uninitiated:

Ashihara does away with the much maligned traditional Katas of Kyokushin, complete with punches chambered at the hip, and instead replaces them with what are, essentially, prearranged sets of shadow Boxing. It also, quite famously, places a greater emphasis on Sabaki than Kyokushin, focusing more on the cliche of "attacking the opponents blindside". What you get, from my experience, is an interesting combination of the principles of clinching some what similar to Muay Thai but swapping out collar ties and body clinches with the grabbing of the gi/clothing. What one ends up with, therefore, is a combination of the Judo/JJJ principles and execution of Kuzushi with the more stereotypical Kyokushin/Kickboxing material as the outcome. In other words, off balance with grappling and then strike.

Ashihara weirdly reminds me of Gjj (swapping out the ground aspect for a focus on strikes) in the sense that it is very much an alive art with a duelling component but one that also drills against specific self defence scenarios- being grabbed and threatened, bear hugs etc.

3/26/2017 7:24am,
The replacement for katas sounds dumb to me. Either do the katas or drop them
Replacing them with a "modern alternative" just seems strange to me. That gripe aside, Ashihara is legit. Not necessarily a good style to train if you want to avoid brain damage though. You are still going to get kicked and kneed in the head.

3/26/2017 3:55pm,
Thanks for the input.

In my experience what makes, say, Boxing or MT more dangerous in terms of brain damage is the accumulation of strikes with the weighted gloves. I think that, with controlled headshots with kicks and knees knockdown sparring (less so with competition) is the closest thing one can get to full contact with a relative lack of head trauma. Due to the repeated jabs and combinations a Boxer will absorb hundreds of punches in a bout, with even prodding shots potentially vibrating the brain. I'm still getting some sparring with head punches in at SBG, but I don't think it's a thing I want to be doing in a few decades.

That said, I'm under no illusion that a full cotact style can be practiced without risk of brain damage, its more of an effort to mitigate the regularity and severity of it.

Kyokushin offshoots are also rare so I didn't want to miss out the opportunity. That and SBG only does two striking sessions a week.

The ruleset is also interesting: Whilst Ashihara Karateka are often forced to compete in Kyokushin to their greater prominence and regularity the art does have its own variation on knockdown that it competes and trains for. This rule set allows everything Kyokushin does, except it also allows the gripping of the gi for strikes and throws.

Here's a good example as the Sabaki rule set, which is predominantly competed in by Ashihara and Enshin guys: https://youtu.be/EH7MRZ6Tb_Q

3/27/2017 1:30pm,
The replacement for katas sounds dumb to me. Either do the katas or drop them
Replacing them with a "modern alternative" just seems strange to me.

I thoroughly disagree. It's nice to have a set of one-person forms, as a physical reference library and as an opportunity to concretize core concepts. I'm told some Muay Thai gyms (perhaps even a major one in NYC) has a specific curriculum of combinations that new students learn. I imagine these are useful because they can practiced as shadowboxing, on a heavy bag (though not always, in the case of 180-degree turns in Ashihara kata), and with partners. That's the I-method! That's progressive resistance in motor patterning!

The old katas are terrible for specific reasons, which this addresses. Having a series of patterns where you have proper posture for fighting, modern footwork, and immediately recognizable practical techniques is a fine idea, and certainly way better than the 150-year-old Okinawan dances that everybody argues about.


4/15/2017 9:43am,
I practice Ashihara, it makes a lot of sense since it offers live sparing, it's simple and it's knockdown(many people favour this styles to increase their striking power).
The grappling and sabaki really makes it complete. Perhaps more takedowns and floorwork would make it very balanced.