Traditional striking arts

After my fanpost presenting the different styles of kickboxing and the positive response it had, I said in the comments that I planned to do another one on more traditional striking arts. It took me longer than I said it would at the time since my social life and my laziness got in the way but I finally got to work. This post will focus mostly on Karate and the two big "families" of styles that constitute it.


Karate (the empty hand) originates in Okinawa and has roots in chinese Kenpo (the original Kanjis used for it read "the hand of china").

Jissen styles:

Jissen styles are full contact styles of Karate generally derivating from Kyokushin Karate.


Kyokushin Karate was founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama. It was the first Jissen style of Karate.

Rules: 1x2 minute round (3 minutes in the semifinals and finals of a tournament) with a possibility for 2 extra 2 minutes rounds in case of a draw. Full contact (KO allowed). Punches and elbows to the chest allowed, kicks and knees allowed on all striking levels. If a contestant is knocked down for more than three seconds, his opponent scores an Ippon and wins the fight. If a contestant is knocked down for less than 3 seconds, his opponent scores a Waza Ari (half point), if a contestant scores 2 Waza Ari, he wins the fight.

So, what does it look like?:

Notable fighters: Ryu Narushima (that lead high kick), Lechi Kurbanov (P4P best spinning shit thrower in the world), Andy Hug (RIP, incredible Kakato geri), Francisco Filho (one of the few to have completed the Hyakunin Kumite, 100 man kumite), Glaube Feitosa (popularized the Brazilian Kick), Kenji Midori, Ewerton Teixeira, Nicholas Pettas.

If anyone wants to learn a bit more about Kyokushin and wants to see Jimmy Smith get his ass kicked, here is the Fight Quest episode on Kyokushin.


Shidokan Karate was created in 1981 by Yoshiji Soeno, a student of Masutatsu Oyama, who added Muay Thai and Judo techniques to Kyokushin Karate. Shindokai Karate was created after a different between some of the branch chiefs and the Honbu Dojo in Japan.

Rules: Shidokan and Shindokai have the particularity of having multiple rulesets.
In Shindokai tournaments, the rules are Kyokushin rules plus clinching allowed for 3 seconds, takedowns and throws allowed and ground fighting allowed for 5 seconds. The last round of the quarter, semifinals and finals are contested under Shindokai Boxing rules, the contestants take their Gi's top off and put on boxing gloves, punching to the head are allowed in this round. Shindokai also has a Shindokai submission ruleset where ground fighting is allowed for 30 seconds.
Shidokan has 3 rulesets: Shidokan martial art (5x3 minutes rounds, Kyokushin rules+clinching allowed for 3 seconds and ground fighting allowed for 5 seconds), Shido Boxing (5x3 minutes rounds, boxing gloves, punches to the head allowed) and Shido Grappling (3x5 minutes rounds, Shidokan martial art rules but no time limit on the ground). As far as I know tournament rules are the same as Shindokai.

So, what does it look like?:

Mumonkai Karate was founded in 1973 by Yoshimoto Togashi. Togshi apparently has a Kyokushin base and fought in kyokushin competitions before creating his own style, there's not a lot of information on his background and on the style (I haven't been able to find a precise ruleset). Going from the videos available: fighters wear protective headgear (the same type as Daido Juku competitors) and small gloves, punches, elbowsn knees and kicks are allowed on all strike levels but they seem to seek Ichigeki (the decisive strike, very important concept in Karate) and every fight seems to be stopped as soon as a decisive strike is scored. Kinda looks like a mix of Jissen and Sundome rules.

So, what does it look like?:


Seidokaikan Karate is a Kyokushin offshoot created in 1980 by future K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii.

Rules: Kyokushin rules plus clinching allowed, boxing gloves and punches to the head allowed in extension rules.

So, what does it look like?:

Notable fighters: Andy Hug, Masaaki Satake, Sam Greco, Musashi, Semmy Schilt.

Sundome styles:

Sundome styles are styles that use light contact point fighting rulesets. There are 2 major point fighting Karate rulesets:

World Karate Federation (WKF) ruleset: 1x3 minute round, all strikes must be controlled (a KO will result in a DQ), no strikes under the beltline, Kicks and punches allowed to the head and chest.
Ippon (3 points): Kick to the head, valid technique on an opponent that has been thrown or swept.
Waza Ari (2 points): Kick to the chest.
Yuko (1 point): Punches.

So what does it look like?:

Japan Karate Association (JKA) ruleset: 2 types of matches, Ippon Sanbu (1 point match) must score an Ippon to win ,and Sanbon Sanbu (3 point match) must score 2 Ippons to win.
Matches can be 1x2 minutes round, 1x3 minutes round or 1x5 minutes round.
Strikes are judged on: proper execution and power of the technique, proper distance and timing, correct posture and proper frame of mind, concentrated mind and spirit, execution to the proper target. If all the criteria are reached, an Ippon is scored. A technique that is well executed but does not qualify as a 1 point or Ippon, is defined as a half point or Waza Ari. 2 Waza Ari constitutes an Ippon.

So what does it look like?:

Styles: Pretty much all Sundome styles compete under these rulesets and the differences are mostly found in Katas and in their out of competition self defense applications which I'm far for an expert on so I'll just list the major ones:
Shotokan is the most widespread style of Sundome Karate and was the first to be introduced to Japan by it's founder Gichin Funakoshi.
Wado Ryu was created by Hironori Otsuka and is considered to be the first specifically Japanese style of Karate.
Uechi Ryu is one of the Okinawan styles and also holds full contact competitions where full contact palm strikes to the head are allowed in addition to kicks and knees on all striking levels and punches and elbows to the chest.
Goju-Ryu (created by Kanryo Higaonna) and Shorin Ryu (created by Sokon Matsumura) are the 2 other major styles of Okinawan Karate.


Taekwondo (the path of the feet and fist) is a Korean martial arts mostly known for its kicking techniques.

Rules: World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) rules: 3x2 minute round. Punches allowed to the chest, kicks allowed to the chest and face. Full contact (KO allowed) 1 point: valid techniques to the chest. 2 points: spinning kick to the chest. 3 points: kick to the head. 4 points: spinning kick to the head.

So, what does it look like?:

Vovinam Viet Vo Dao:

Vovinam Viet Vo Dao is a Vietnamese martial art created in 1938 by Nguyễn Lộc. It is mostly famous due to its flying scissors techniques.

Rules: 2x1 minute round. Semi contact (a Ko will result in a DQ, techniques are "marked" but must be controlled), no punches to the head, no strikes under the belt, kicks allowed to all strike levels, knees allowed to the chest. Takedowns and throws allowed. I found videos that seemed to use another ruleset but can't find this ruleset anywhere.

1 point: punches and knees to the chest. 2 points: kicks to the head or chest. 1 to 3 points: Takedowns and throws. 1 to 4 points: Scissors techniques. 0 point: strikes to the legs arms and shoulders.

So, what does it look like?:

There are hundreds of Karate styles and hundreds of traditional striking art so this is in no way exhaustive but I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading!

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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