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One of my application of strategy and tactics in a Karate Knockdown (full-contact with no pads)


"I fought him (6'8, 240 lbs) in New York, a fight I lost by decision.I still managed to get a ushiro-mawashi geri (back spinning kick) to his face which made him stagger, but no referee gave me a waza-ari. I still managed to get a ushiro-mawashi geri (back spinning kick) in his face (back kick) which made him stagger, but no referee gave me a waza-ari (half point). Soshu Shigeru Oyama was refereeing this fight. He then said to me laughing: "Almost. Almost!" He had knocked out all his opponents after me losing in the final against S. Shihan K. Fujiwara. Shihan Taylor then said to me, "What a tough fighter you are!" This compliment was worth a trophy to me.

I had a dream two weeks before that I would fight him. The drawing of the fights was done funnily. Soshu Shigeru Oyama came to pick me up and put me in front of him and told me: you will fight him.I was the smallest and lightest heavyweight (5'10, 180 pounds) and he was the biggest and heaviest. He had represented the United States at the second World Championship in Japan in 1979, and I had represented Canada at the same championship in Tokyo. Maybe that's why he put us together.

I received this comment from Sensei Gerry, a student and great friend, multiple Canadian and North American champions for many years. He was present at my fight against Dennis Taylor:

Sensei Gerry: "Shihan, you don't do that fight justice! To this day, that fight with Sensei Denis is the best-planned strategy I have ever seen. He was so big that he was going through everyone, and he was pushing you again and again. Everyone thought you were done - but no one, even Denis, realized you were measuring him. On the last backup, you turned around and dropped that ushiro mawashi geri (spinning back kick) that no one was expecting, especially Denis!!! You caught him right in the head, and he was almost out of the fight!!! The best chess/full-contact fight I've ever seen! That day I learned that fighting requires more brains than brawn!"

The strategy I used: At the beginning of the fight, he would charge me and knock me off the mat. I grasped that he always attacked me in a straight line because I was smaller and lighter than him. He used the same tactic, double-punch, once or twice followed by a low kick. Soshu Oyama was bringing us back to the center of the tatami, so I counted the time he was coming towards me twice in a row.

Since I was backing up each time, he thought that his tactic was working well and continued to use it. The third time, Soshu Shigeru Oyama moved us back to the center, I backed up again calculating the time he would go to me and waited in the middle of his double punch to execute a ushiro mawashi geri (look at the last picture, how I am positioned and how vulnerable he is to this technique). I remember that the whole crowd suddenly got up from their seats and applauded. Then, for the rest of the fight, I moved at an angle, a strategy that is best suited when there is almost a foot difference in height with the opponent. Even though I knew this was the strategy to use, I deliberately moved backward on purpose to get him into that trap. Unfortunately, I did not get that waza-ari (half a point) that would have changed the outcome of the fight. However, I learned a lot from this competition that has served me well throughout my fighting career.

- Shihan Gaëtan Sauve

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