Early on in the history of this sport, Karate along with many other traditional martial arts, was written off as useless. This was due to “mcdojo” Karatekas showing everybody how useless the west has made the martial art for actual combat. As a longtime practitioner of the martial art, and a competitive mixed martial artist, I can tell you that Karate is very misunderstood. Especially the most popular forms such as Shotokan and Kyokushin.
Kyokushin Karate has been producing world class athletes for years. Training in a real Kyokushin dojo is one of the most grueling things that anybody could put themselves through. Though I am a Shotokan practitioner myself, I can easily use real world examples of Kyokushin that highlight the legitimacy of the style. One of the most famous kick boxers of all time, Andy Hug, was a Kyokushin practitioner with over 9 KO’s by Axe kick, which is a Kyokushin technique! These knockouts were against the best standup fighters in the world no less. Georges St-Pierre is by far the best MMA example. The welterweight champion takes every chance he can to praise the martial art and continues to practice it and move forward in its ranking system. In combat sports, Kyokushin has proven useful more times than any other form of Karate.
As someone who has spent a very long time in a Shotokan dojo, and just as much time at various MMA schools, I will be the first to tell you how real it actually is. Like most MMA fans, up until Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans, winning the light heavyweight belt at the time, I was quick to tell anybody how useless Karate is. I was then a practitioner of Boxing and Muay Thai and when I walked into a Shotokan dojo for the first time I did so with a prideful and arrogant grin. Although somewhat skeptical I did my research and found a school with a very traditional backround. This school was very different from the “Americanized” versions of Karate classes we know. There were no 9 year old black belts running around. There was merely a shiny wooden floor, posts for punching, and technique bags hanging from the ceiling. Our sensei was highly respected, almost eighty years old, and had 60 years of experience studying the art to teach his pupils. In this classroom I learned more about footwork, distance, timing, counter-striking, and speed, than I’d ever learned in all of my years of Muay Thai and Boxing. Not only that, but the practitioners I trained with actually got the better of me in the standup! I was repeatedly beaten to the punch, and forced to swing at air for years before I started doing well. This was all happening at the same time as I offered a good challenge in sparring sessions with professionals in my MMA classes. As a matter of note, you should know I train at Kings MMA with Rafael Cordeiro in Southern California and anyone in the know will tell you this is no chump MMA school.
To this day I’ll tell anybody who asks, that Karate is an extremely legitimate form of combat, and I am using the tools I gained studying it everyday of my life. With a little luck this should aid me and possibly many others well in the journey to the UFC.