During the 49th All Japan Open Tournament, MATSUI Shokei introduced a new tournament that is going to be organized based on new rules. It will be held in June, 2018, under the « IKO Semi-Contact Rules » (tentative name). These new rules will make the wearing of face, chest, shins and knuckles protections mandatory, and will turn into a point system, in which hits from punches and kicks (KO are still OK) will be counted. Furthermore, low-kicks, hiza-geri and kakato-otoshi are forbidden. Finally, the mae-geri above the hips, chudan-geri and jodan-geri are all accepted, and only straight punches are allowed (punches to the face are also allowed, as long as they are thrown in a controlled manner, that doesn’t damage the opponent).
MATSUI explains the background of its inception as follows:
« Looking at the children matches, we realized that even though they are doing their best, they haven’t learned how to use proper movements, and their techniques are sloppy. They don’t have basic strength, nor a good core balance. The techniques of boxing are very precise and deep, because their rules are limited. In karate too, if we don’t limit the techniques from the beginning, they won’t be able to master them properly.
Also, the children nowadays are doing a lot more matches than we used to do. People from my generation ended up hurting their hips or knees and had to have surgeries done, but we cannot allow that to continue. In order for the children to be able to stay in good health when they are 40 or 50 years-old, we started looking into establishing new rules.
We have to organize fights in which seniors and women could also actively participate. We have to create a tournament where they can still grow while enjoying karate.
At this point, we are not actively calling on practitioners of traditional karate (who use a similar set of rules). If they want to participate, we welcome them to do so. I do think that if fighters from traditional karate participate now, they will win. If they come, it will allow us to progress and make some exchanges in the karate sphere. In the future, we hope that it can become a tournament in which they can participate more easily. »
Even though MATSUI presents this new tournament as a way to ensure safety and as a learning platform to master proper technique, as well as promoting karate throughout the different categories of age and sex (a category for men is also included), it seems very obvious that it is a further move from his organization to prepare themselves for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, that will introduce karate as an official sport, and that will use a no-contact, point system as well.
The question that remains is whether or not this type of new tournaments will eventually replace what Kyokushin originally was in MATSUI’s organization.