As with any martial arts, there may be times when you come across phrases that are unfamiliar or require additional context to be fully understood.
Unchecked attacks in karate can be one of those terms. In this article, we will look at what an unchecked attack is in karate.
What Is Meant By “Unchecked”?
Firstly, let’s look at what is meant by the word “unchecked” in this context.
Unchecked, when describing an attack or move in karate means that the move was unrestrained or not controlled.
Within karate as a discipline, the amount of control exhibited by a karateka is one of the most important things.
The goal of karate is to have the skill to incapacitate or kill an opponent with a single move but exercise the control in a competition to not cause that result.
Having full control over your mind and body is a cornerstone of karate teachings.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand just how frowned upon an unchecked attack would be in karate.
What Qualifies As An Unchecked Attack?
There are a few aspects of a move that have the potential to qualify them as unchecked attacks within karate competition.
Generally, moves that can qualify as an unchecked attack can be found in the prohibited behavior section of the World Karate Federation’s competition rules.
Any move that is performed with excessive force is considered to be excessive contact and can be considered to be an unchecked attack.
This may seem counterproductive in a combat sport such as martial arts, however, karate has such a focus on controlled movement that any excessive force is deemed to be a misuse of an attack and can be punished.
There is a reasonable expectation of taking a hit when engaging in karate and the force of those hits is likely to increase as you improve and work through your belts, however, the force should never cause incapacitation.
If this happens in practice, you should speak to your sensei about the inappropriate use of force.
Included under the umbrella of excessive contact are strikes to an opponent’s throat.
While some neck contact is allowed, it should be well controlled and with a force that is considered to be a touch rather than a hit.
Any attack in excess of the accepted force will result in penalization or disqualification from the competition.
Attacks To The Head, Legs, Groin, Joints, Or Instep
In general, karate competitors are able to absorb powerful blows to muscled areas such as the abdomen, they are trained on how to handle the impact and recover quickly from a strike.
However, areas such as the head, face, joints, groin, and instep are much more susceptible to injury.
While karate does teach you how to defend against attacks on these areas and will even teach you how to target these areas to incapacitate a genuine attacker, however, it makes sense to avoid targeting these areas during practice or competition due to the damage that can be caused.
It is possible that these body parts can be caught accidentally during practice, but if it happens repeatedly, discuss it with your Sensei.
Open-Hand Face Attacks
Open hand strikes, such as the famous “karate chop” or Shuto may be deemed as an unchecked attack if they are targeted at an opponent’s face.
The main concern with open hand face attacks is the significant risk to the competitor’s sight.
As mentioned above, while karate moves are designed to cause injury or incapacitation when applied in a genuine fight, different techniques should be applied during competition and practice.
Due to the fact that the risk to sight is not correlated with the force used, it is entirely forbidden from competitions.
Dangerous Or Forbidden Throws
This one is fairly self-explanatory. If a competitor uses a throw that is deemed to be excessively dangerous or has been expressly forbidden within the competition rules, it will be considered an unchecked attack.
This is due to the heightened risk of injury to the recipient.
Any techniques that result in incapacitation or injury may be penalized during a competition.
This does not apply if the injury or incapacitation was caused by the recipient.
These rules are implemented more strictly in competitions with younger or less experienced competitors.
For the most part, unchecked attacks come down to the discretion of the referee.
The Consequences Of Unchecked Attacks
If a karateka performs an unchecked attack during the competition there will be consequences.
The specifics of the consequences that may be faced are reliant on the discretion of the referee.
For an unchecked attack that is considered to be a minor infraction, a warning will be given, this is referred to as Chukoku.
If the same minor infraction is committed and is no more serious than in the initial instance, a second warning or a Keikoku will be given.
For continued infractions, a third and final warning called a Hansoku-Chui is given to the competitor.
This final warning is a warning of disqualification.
If a competitor continues to perform unchecked attacks, or if a singular unchecked attack is considered to be very serious, the referee may decide to impose a Hansoku.
A Hansoku is a penalty of disqualification.
In this instance, the fouled competitor is given a score of eight points and the offender’s score is reduced to zero.
Depending on the severity of the unchecked attack, the offender can be disqualified from the fight, or they may be disqualified from the entire tournament.
If you are a karateka you will want to avoid developing a reputation as someone who performs unchecked attacks.
Unchecked attacks in karate are taken very seriously.
They essentially go against the core teachings of total control of the mind and body, making them entirely unacceptable both in a practice session and in competition.