Best Things To Do In Nyc With 1 Year Old What It Was Like to Fight in Karate Tournaments in the 1970’s

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What It Was Like to Fight in Karate Tournaments in the 1970’s

In the early to mid-1970s there were many karate tournaments, and I participated in several of them. I received my black belt in 1975 from a great master – Sensei Fred Corritone, here in Long Island, New York. He was a very tough instructor, and our club, or dojo, was doing things the old-fashioned way – we earned every level, or belt. Very physical classes were the hallmark – blood, sweat and tears, to put it simply – and gentle! Our karate or karate students sometimes went to karate tournaments, either on Long Island or in Manhattan, and other cities. We’ve fought people from every conceivable background and every different style. At the time, most tournaments were “no contact”, meaning fighters had to stop before fully knocking out their opponents. Often, however, this did NOT happen – that is, the fighters hit hard enough, despite the rule against full contact. There were no boxing gloves or safety kicks at these tournaments, as contact was supposed to be at a minimum.

At one of those “no contact” tournaments – at the Commack Arena in Suffolk County on Long Island, I fought at the brown belt level. I was winning a fight, when I scored a point against my opponent – and then all of a sudden he punched me head-on in the face – thus breaking my nose, quite severely. It was quite a shock, and I had to retire – to a hospital. I received the fight, but the next month my whole face was swollen and it turned completely black, blue and purple. I had suffered quite a serious trauma. You could say that my opponent had really lost control, to say the least! I still fought in certain tournaments thereafter, in particular the Fred Hamilton tournament, in Harlem. It was quite a spectacle. In the 70s, there was not yet the level of integration that we enjoy today, and our karate club was about the only non-African American present. Of course, it didn’t really matter, because the only thing that mattered was who was the better fighter, regardless of their skin color. One of the members of my dojo won his fight in a very spectacular way – by executing a magnificent flying side kick – and stopping the kick about a millionth of an inch from his opponent’s head. It was no small feat. I won one fight, then lost to a very good fighter afterwards. This tournament was quite a spectacle – and it was a famous competition for many years.

At some of these tournaments, I also participated in the kata competition – the non-combat part, where one performs the formal karate exercises – the “forms”. It was really enjoyable – although somewhat nerve-wracking, as her performance is being evaluated by several highly trained judges. It took a lot of concentration, good technique and complete familiarity with the kata.

Although I learned a lot from these tournaments, I eventually had enough. I realized – after a while – that my interest in karate – in martial arts – was changing – and I was much more interested in the mental aspects – the state of mind, and also , fitness angle. It took many years, but I eventually lost my interest in pure fighting – which is an important part of karate, of course – but it’s only one aspect – and for me, at least, it became the smallest part of it all. Of course, to achieve this feeling, I had previously achieved a decent to moderately good level of karate fighting – not excellent, but at least a good level. I started to move on to something that I considered even more important – the development of the whole person, and for me combat was just a small subset of that. These days I’m only interested in helping people get in shape using karate and related techniques. Sure, you can learn how to fight – and how to defend yourself – but that’s less important than being mentally and physically fit – at least for me. I will always remember the tournaments – as with all my old karate training, as all aspects are a learning experience – and, I am happy to have found what I consider to be the fundamental meaning of karate – and for me it is its Zen aspects as well as the fitness levels that can be achieved.

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