What is KKK or 3K Karate?

3k karate goju ryu karate bassendean karate perth karateka kkk karate martial arts okinawan togka traditional karate traditonal karate Jul 27, 2021
3K Karate

3k Karate, a term recently coined by Ian Abernethy, is quote…

“3K karate” refers to “karate made up of Kihon, Kata and Kumite AND never the three shall meet”

So, what’s wrong with 3k karate?

Well, nothing if your sole purpose as a Karate practitioner is to do touch point sparring.

But this does highlight a bit of a problem in the Karate world.

In past decades, up until the 1980’s Karateka’s (or practitioners of Karate) carried with them a mystical level of respect.

‘Careful he knows Karate’

Today the martial art has become less respected, and partly this is because of the proliferation of 3k Karate styles that do not equip one with any real self-defence ability.

They exist as a sort of gymnastics practice, emulating the martial arts techniques, but never really connecting their meanings, and rarely if ever pressure testing their application. 

The three K’s stand for…

  • Kihon - Basic Techniques
  • Kata - A series of ordered ‘forms’ and
  • Kumite - Meeting of the hands (Sparring)

So, what is different in a traditional form of Karate such as Okinawan Goju Ryu?

Well, in the most basic of explanations, there is simply more to it.

Several other training components exist within traditional Karate.

For example, while the three K’s are performed in Okinawan Goju Ryu, there are also the following to supplement and link the three together.

  • Bunkai - Breakdown and application of the Kata
  • Hojo Undo - Strength and Conditioning exercises using traditional equipment
  • Ude Tanren
  • Two Man Kata
  • Kumite Variations including...
  • Ippon Kumite
  • Randori
  • Jiyu Kumite
  • Kumite
  • And others
  • Foot (Ashi) movements Combined with attacks
  • Kamae Training - Combative postures
  • Takedowns
  • Grappling

And many other components that are not listed here such as weaponry and body movement trainings.

While these are the major technical aspects of traditional Karate left out of 3K Karate the more important factor that is often not mentioned, is that without the depth of training, practical understanding of the forms of the Kata and pressure testing through progression through different levels of Kumite, it is unlikely a Karateka will actually be able to defend themselves.

The sportification of Karate has hurt Karate’s reputation. But those that still follow the old ways realise that this is simply a lack of understanding that not all Karate is truly for self-defence.

While there are great Martial artists from 3k Karate backgrounds as a general rule these styles are left wanting when it comes to real world application.

Some Karate styles are now simply sports to be enjoyed in the same way gymnastics is a body movement sport where it was once used by the Greeks and Romans to physically prepare for war. 

And that’s totally fine.

But if you are looking for a true self-defence martial art. Remember to look closely at what exactly is being taught.

And if you are looking for practical self-defence, be careful not to get too confident with simply the 3k’s of Karate.

Karate is a lifelong journey not to be rushed or watered down.

Enjoy the time it takes to become a true martial artist, and remember it’s about the journey not a destination!

To find out more about Traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do go to… 



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