Training and Fighting Skills
Martial arts generally thought of in terms of style or system,
which is loyally supported with the same fervor given to a
fraternal organization. Full-contact karate does not claim any
one style. Rather it gives credit to all of the fighting arts
for its application. Through this sport, new techniques in
training and competition have surfaced by modifying many of our
Being the pioneer in any sport always means traveling a path
full of pitfalls. The men to meet this challenge were few in
number. They came primarily from the ranks of traditional
karate, trying to fill the void of competitors. Some succeeded.
When the history books were written about these early men and
women of full-contact karate, there will be a special place of
honor given to Benny Urquidez. He has bridged that chasm between
amateur and professional and by doing so blazed a trail for
others to follow.
Nicknamed “The Jet” because of his quick effective style, this
versatile, champion has traveled the world competing with the
best that a country had to offer. He has bested the best in
their own hometowns, playing their own rules. But perhaps just
as important, he has not only made new friends during his new
travels, but many new converts to the sport as well.
Benny “The Jet” Urquidez fights like a champion, but just as
notable, he also has the attitude of a champion. The Champ looks
upon the entire matter of competition as exciting, enlightening,
and an exercise in mental strategy as well as physical strategy.
After numerous requests by his legion of fans to write a book on
his training and competing techniques, he has finally agreed.
But where do you begin?
Over the many years that Benny Urquidez has taught the martial
arts and the thousands of students that have learned from him,
he has noted a similarity in the questions that were asked. They
seem to be universal, with each step of training bringing forth
new problems to solve in the mind of the student.
He has taken the most frequent asked questions and answered them
for all to understand. The new questions have been separated
into the chapter headings that divide the book. It is hoped that
this method will enhance your learning method.
Benny Urquidez was a champion competitor in the traditional arts
for over 14 years. All of the techniques he uses in the ring are
credited to their origin in the martial arts. For that reason
this book is perfect not only for the karate practitioner and
the tournament fighter, but also for the full-contact
competitor. Everything you see in this book has been tried and
proven in actual competition. It works for him and it works for
his students. With practice and desire to be the best it will
work for you as well.
To my knowledge, this is the first book on professional
full-contact karate. The overwhelming number of requests for me
to put my thoughts and techniques down on paper prompted me to
pass on to you the knowledge and methods which have made me the
competitor I am today.
When full contact karate began as a sport in the United States
in the early seventies, few saw any future in it. Many saw it as
detrimental to traditional karate. I felt just the opposite.
Here was a sport that could open up new vistas, allow martial
artist freedom to explore new methods and combine them with
already established techniques for a better, more practical form
of combat. I also realized that unlike boxing, traditional
karate had no mass audience appeal because it was all based on
techniques pulled short of target. It was extremely difficult to
follow, except for the trained eye. I felt that with full
contact, a whole new world would open up which would benefit the
traditionalist as well as the experimentalist.
As the sport grew and became recognized, one drawback became
apparent. Few fighters were ready to step into the professional
ring. Those who tried soon discovered that full-contact karate
was unlike its non-professional counterpart. An even larger
problem was that few trainers were available to teach the
upcoming fighters the proper methods of full-contact fighting.
That is the major reason for this book. I have been fortunate in
having the best coach from the very beginning, my brother Arnold
Urquidez, and in being given the freedom to experiment my own
ideas. Through dedication and hard work, I reached the top in
the sport. Now I want to take this knowledge and pass it on to
My major objective is not to discard the traditional arts. They
are my foundation. I want to expand the minds of all of you who
are ready to learn. I want to show you that there are modified
methods that can and do work. The key is to learn to adapt
yourself to your situation and flow with it. Don’t restrict
yourself. If I can accomplish this for you, then I have done my
share in the growth if the sport. I sincerely hope, as you read
though these pages, that you will go with what I am saying and
take it as far as you can.
Is speed the most important overall development for karate
Yes. For both offensive and defensive techniques, you must have
speed. Your reaction time must be quick to get in and out. Speed
requires quick reaction time and strength to push and pull your
body and weapons.
Is it easier to develop speed in your hands or your feet?
It is easier to develop speed in your hands because you don’t
carry as much weight.
How do you work on developing your reflexes?
There is only one way to develop your reflexes and that is
through repetition. Initially, you have to mentally train an
action until it becomes just that, a reflex. You develop it
Can you train to make distancing a weapon itself?
Distancing can be a weapon, but not by itself of course. You
would first test your opponent with, let’s say, a feint. You see
if your opponent moves back or stays put. If he moves back more
than once in reaction to your feint, then you can be pretty
certain that he always wll because that is how he has trained. I
always say that the way you train is the way you act. Knowing
this bit of information, you can create distance between you and
him with a feint, thereby setting him up for a jump kick or
other long range technique.
Is speed related to size?
Usually the smaller person has the advantage because he is
closer to the ground and can maneuver more quickly. The taller
person, because of his farther distance to the ground and his
physical weight, would be slower than his smaller counterpart.
Where does power come from?
Power starts from the center of the gut. You can develop power
with equipment, such as weight and bags, but the most important
kind of power is mental discipline. You’ve heard, I’m sure, of
some people who are actually incredibly strong when they were in
some kind of panic situation. It’s not that they’ve trained for
it, it is just that their mental powers took over and they were
able to do things that they never considered doing before.
Do you think power is necessary for fighting?
You definitely have got to have power in your hands, legs, gut,
and mind to be and effective fighter.
What is the difference between power and strength?
People who have power are not necessarily strong. Strength comes
internally. Power comes more from the outside of the body.
What is the difference between nautilus and barbell workouts?
Nautilus equipment works against your own power and strength.
Barbells are dead weights that work against gravity. Nautilus
builds inner strength. Barbells build outer strength and bulk,
which could have a tendency to shorten your reach.
How can a person strengthen their wrists?
There are many good exercises that are available. Some of the
more popular ones are squeezing a ball or squeezing vise grips
which use a spring for tension. One of the times you can use a
barbell or dumbbells. Hold them at 90 degree angle and move your
wrists up and down.
Will dynamic tension exercises increase strength?
I believe that dynamic tension is the best kind of strengthening
exercise that a person can do. The reason for this is because
you are not pushing with more than your strength nor less than
your strength. You are pushing against your own limitations. So
as you become stronger, the tension increases.
Is hip rotation important in giving you power?
Yes, hip rotation is very important. However, it is best
utilized if, rather than going into a locked position, it goes
past that position of locking. Hip rotation is important for
What is more powerful, hands or feet?
Naturally the feet are more powerful because they are heavier.
The muscles are bigger and the femur bone in the thigh is the
largest bone in the body.
Can a smaller guy be as powerful and a bigger guy?
Yes, definitely. It is not so much the outer bulk, but the inner
strength that is important. Then we’re talking about leverage.
What is your definition on timing?
Timing means meeting your object with a certain technique that
will reach maximum speed at the moment of impact.
Is there equipment, which can be used to learn timing?
The timing bag and speed bag are used to learn timing? You can
learn timing through pacing yourself when you skip rope and when
How important is timing in karate?
Timing is very important. If you get a big person who isn’t very
quick, he depends on timing. A smaller person who is very quick
doesn’t rely on timing as much. He relies more on speed. It is
actually very important for any fighter, but a bigger person is
more dependent on it.
What is rhythm?
Rhythm works on a beat and motion. It is a continuing steady
pace, a measured motion.
What is eye gap?
Using your eye and your opponent to judge the distance in whivh
yo use your weapons.
Will constant repetition improve timing?
Yes. Any time you use a technique in a repetitive manner, timing
will automatically come. It will happen naturally.
What is the difference between reflex and timing?
Reflex is a spontaneous reaction process, not thinking one. It
happens automatically. You have to work on timing to perfect it.
Timing you have to see.
Are blocking and timing interrelates?
Definitely. You have to learn your timing down either to avoid
or redirect your opponent’s weapons.
Do you think using music during workouts is beneficial?
Not only is it beneficial, it is also more enjoyable. It can
give you that rhythm and beat that you need.
Why is sparring the best way to develop good timing?
Sparring is the best way because you’re doing it for real. You
have an object kick and striking back at you. So you are under
pressure to pay attention and not let your mind wander.
What are the main targets in professional karate?
In competition, the target areas above the waist run in a
vertical line known as the main line. Starting with the top of
the head, the nose, the jar, the throat, the collarbone, solar
plexus, the gut and the bladder. Off to the side parallel to the
main line there is a target area just underneath the heart,
Going horizontally across the mid-section there are the bladder,
liver, and kidneys. Below the waist are the thighs and calves.
No joint, groin, or spine techniques allowed.
What about the target areas in a real fight?
In a real fight the main target areas are the weakest points
such as the bridge of the nose, the temple, behind the ear, the
throat, the groin, the spine, and any strike against the joints.
Of course, you can also include the main target areas you would
use in the ring.
Are there any target areas that are off-limits in American full
Yes,. You are not allowed to strike to the groin, the throat,
the spine, against the joints and to use any techniques which
include down blows.
Is it necessary to always attack a specific target?
Yes. The best target to hit constantly is the body, because the
body continually weakens. There is an old saying that if you hit
the body the head will follow. If you continue hitting the same
area over and over you will eventually weaken it and do damage
just as well.
What does sharp shooting mean?
Sharp shooting is used in training. Do not use your techniques
with full power. Instead, concentrate on focusing your opponent
to make an opening so you can aim a technique to whatever area
you want. It is strictly a training device. You do this without
getting hit. This way you can work on your speed, timing and
What is the mot fragile part of the body?
In my opinion, it is the throat.
What do you do the first time you meet your opponent in the
In the ring, I really get to know my opponent. During the first
round, I test his weapons, determining his strongest and weakest
points. In the second round, I test his body. I see if he can
take the punishment, see if he has a good jaw and if his legs
are in good condition. It’s in the third round that I start
going for his weakest points.
Why do you wait until the third round before going after your
opponents weak points? Isn’t it almost too late if he is
Usually it is the way of testing your opponent’s skills. A
professional, however, never waits for the third round. He can
generally tell what his opponent is like after the first round.
Speaking strictly for myself, this is the way I start off. The
three rounds are a warm-up for me, but I wouldn’t advise waiting
that long for anybody else. Since an amateur only has three
rounds, he had better figure out his opponent’s tactics in the
How do you decide what lead move to use when you close the gap?
Generally you would use your front hand because it’s closer to
your opponent and it gets in quicker. With your front hand you
cover hid eyes with a jab and then follow up with a kick, punch,
throw, or clinch.
How do you deal with an opponent who is an in-fighter?
Learn to use your front hands as a jab to cover his eyes and use
your legs a jab as well to make him keep his distance. If he
comes in on you too fast, learn to tie up his hands in a clinch.
How do you deal with an opponent who is always dancing away?
You learn to cut the corners. An example would be if he is at
12:00 and he dances clockwise, you meet him by going in a
straight line to 3:00. If he dances counterclockwise you meet
him by going in a straight line to 9:00.
How do you determine your opponent’s weakest points?
First, you have to test his weapons. You see how fast they are,
how accurate they are and how much power they have behind them.
If he has good hands you try to pick away at his weaker points,
such as the kidneys, the liver, etc., by using your legs. If he
has good legs you have the smother them by getting in close and
then working on hid body. You test his weapons when theu hit
your block so you never have to take the full impact to know
what your opponent has to dish out.
How do you get your opponent to make a mistake?
You test him. Test his reaction. Anybody that trains has a habit
of doing certain things during his training. The way you train
is the way you react. You test with him a fake or feint and see
if he moves back. If he reacts that way more than once then you
know that is the way he has trained and he will react that way
again. If he opens up a gap for you in a reaction to your move,
then you can place him where you want him.
Do you change your strategy for opponents who are much larger,
smaller or the same size as you are?
The strategy is always mental. Physically, I fight them all the
same. If you fight a big guy, you fight him hard and to the
inside. If you fight a smaller guy, you fight him hard on the
outside. When I say you fight them all the same I mean you hit
them all hard and you hit the same spots, i.e., liver, kidneys,
etc. Somebody big should be fought to his inside because he has
the advantage of distance over you and can hit you. You have to
be on his inside to smother his weapons so he can’t use that
reach against you. A smaller guy moves just as quickly as you,
theoretically, so you want to stay away from his weapons by
keeping to his outside.
How important is it to “Psych Out” your opponent?
Very important. You begin by psyching your opponent out
mentally. You do this by the way you look at him, you
expressions, your attitude, your self-assurance, your
enthusiasm, and your charisma. They are all very important. Then
you work on him verbally. You can tell him, “We’re going to give
the audience a good show. We’re going to let them know we came
here to fight.” There are ways of making him doubt his own
To physically intimidate your opponent, you might hit his glove
in the beginning of each round with a strong solid tap, showing
him the strength in your hands. You might also stomp the ground
hard for the noise effect. You can tighten up your muscles and
look him straight in the eyes. Try poking him with your thumb in
the solar plexus and say with a light smile or wink “Good luck”
after the referee’s instructions. Or give him a pat on the
shoulder with a sturdy closed fit and then say to him “We’re
going to have a good fight.” I’ve seen men melt before the first
round with techniques like these.
Do you believe in scouting your opponent, such as finding out
where he trains, viewing his other fights, or finding out any
other information on him?
No. There is no need for that. He’ll never fight the same way in
the ring, because he’ll react differently to the way you react.
It is good to know if he has good legs or hands because it make
s you aware of them. If you study a film he could fool you by
reversing his tactics and then you can be all messed up. You
see, if you have to think about what you’re doing, it’s too
late. You don’t have time to think. So what you do is react to
his motion, not to what you think he’s going to do.
Do you choose a sparring partner for a specific bout?
Usually I get three or four different sparring partners with
different weights and speeds. Some of them are about my size and
are very quick. They will keep me quick. Then I will get some a
little heavier and slower, but who hit a lot harder. That way I
get to feel different power levels and strength and as well as
Does your corner man give you strategy during the fight?
No. If my corner man has to tell me how to fight my opponent, I
don’t belong in the ring. The thing my corner man does is to
make me aware of what my opponent is doing to me. He’ll say, for
example, “This guy is catching you with a round kick to the head
on your right side.” That could only mean that my right hand is
low. If he tells me, “This guy is catching you with a jab,” that
could possibly mean that mean that my left hand must be low and
that I’m not moving my head. He makes me aware for two reasons.
One is to help me make a better defense and the other is to make
me aware of an opening that I might not have seen.
What are the best foods to eat?
Seafood, poultry, and liver. Turkey is also very good since it
is easy to digest and terrific if you want to lose weight.
Is it necessary to eat three times a day?
In my opinion, no. Twice a day is sufficient. Usually a good
breakfast between seven and eight in the morning and a good
dinner no later than six in the evening is the ideal schedule.
How much should you eat?
You should eat only as much as your stomach with hold. Most of
us keep eating even though we are satisfied. Learn to push the
plate away if you are full. Your appetite will decrease and
you’ll feel better and be able to have better workout.
Should you rest after eating?
If that means going to sleep or just sitting down the answer is
no. You should take a walk after every meal. It will help your
body digest the food and will prevent the meal from turning into
Do you recommend vitamins?
Vitamins are necessary supplements your body’s needs, especially
since you expend more energy in a short amount of time than the
average individual. To allow your body to perform well under
this extra effort you must replace the vitamins, which burn up
quickly during workouts.
What type of vitamins do you recommend?
A basic vitamin program should include B complex, C, and E. The
B complex helps when you are sweating and your pores are open.
B15 is another good vitamin to take. It supplies more oxygen to
the blood stream, thus giving you more endurance. Cayenne (red
pepper) in capsule form will also speed up your blood
Is it detrimental to eat and work out?
I think so. After eating you should walk to burn off some
calories and to help your body digest the food. You must give
your body plenty of time to digest the food in your stomach.
Don’t do any hard exercise for at least two hours after eating.
Is junk food really unhealthy?
There are some people who live on junk food and do just fine.
But I think for most people junk food all the time is not good.
I know sometimes my body yearns for things like sugar and salt.
What I do is treat myself on Sunday and call it my “junk food
day.” I treat myself to any type of food I want, but the rest of
the week, I stay away from these foods.
When you are thirsty, should you drink warm or cold liquids?
Believe it or not, warm liquids quench thirst better than cold
liquids. With warm liquids, a little will do the job. It’s not
good to drink a lot when you are thirsty. Cold liquids will fill
you, but won’t quench the thirst as quickly.
How do you run?
There are different patterns in running. When you first begin to
run the mile you will run a half a mile, walk a quarter mile,
and sprint a quarter mile. Do this for two weeks. For running
the second mile, run the first mile, then walk a quarter mile,
sprint a quarter mile, walk a quarter mile, and sprint a quarter
mile. The maximum you need to run is six miles. When you work up
to that you will run for five miles, then walk a quarter mile,
sprint a quarter mile, walk a quarter mile, and sprint the final
quarter mile. Walk at a fast pace.
Is there any special equipment you need to run?
In addition to good running shoes, you will need a mouthpiece to
train to breath through your nose.
Why should you breathe through your nose?
Breathing through your nose controls your heartbeat. That is
what gives you endurance. You take so much oxygen into the lungs
and the lungs control the heartbeat. Also, in the ring you have
to wear a mouthpiece and then you can only breath through your
What are the best breathing patterns?
Your breathing pattern is the manner in which you take in and
release oxygen. It is always done through the nose. The basic
breathing pattern is a double short breath in and one breath
out. Each individual will develop his own breathing patter from
the basic one. For example, my breathing patter is one breath in
and a double short breath out, just the opposite from the basic.
What are the best hours to run?
The best hour to run is between 5:00 and 6:00 am. In the morning
your stomach is empty, you think your sharpest, and you will be
able to run your hardest. Also, the air is the cleanest it will
be all day.
The next best time to run is between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. In
the evening you may not be able to push your hardest because you
still have food in your stomach, but at least the air will be
What is a good rule of thumb on the distance to run?
It all depends. I say for each round a person fights, he should
run a mile. Six miles should be the limit whether the person is
an amateur (three rounds) or a professional (four rounds and
up). That is a good rule of thumb. It’s not how far you run,
it’s how your run that makes a difference.
Why is sprinting important?
Sprinting is important for tearing tissues in the lungs so they
can expand. You learn to take sprints at a time and control your
heartbeat. Your breathing patter in running is the same as
fighting in the ring. Your sprints are the same as your actual
fighting or attacking. Your walking is your footwork after
What is the benefit of hill running or bleacher running?
In hill running you stride forward. It is more for building up
the legs than for real endurance. In bleacher running you always
stay on the balls of your feet. This too is more for building
the legs than for the kind of endurance a distance run can give
What is the best surface to run on?
It is best to run on either grass or dirt. You don’t want to run
on pavement if you can help it. The impact on the pavement is
too hard for ankles and knees and you might develop shin
How do you prevent foot injuries while running?
You have to wear good running shoes and find a good surface to
run on. Know your limit in running. If you have weak ankles or
knees make certain that they are properly supported.
Are there ways of preventing side aches while running?
Yes, there are. First, make certain your stomach is empty. Next,
be conscious of how you run. Make certain that you run with your
spine straight and in an upright position, and don’t shift your
body from side to side.
Is running with ankle weights beneficial?
The only place you should have weight when you run is around
your waist. This way it keeps the weight centered. If you keep
weights on your legs, they will tire out too quickly. When your
legs get tired with weights there is more of a chance of injury.
Which is best to build endurance, climbing or running?
There is no activity mentioned that is better than running to
build endurance. I am not talking about muscle endurance, I am
talking about the endurance that controls the heartbeat. We work
on muscle endurance in another section of this book.
Is speed bag good for conditioning?
Yes, but for conditioning your eyes and hands only. It’s used
more for coordination.
What is a timing bag?
It is a bag, which develops your eye gap and hands. Since the
bag moves in so many different directions, you need to develop
good eye distance in order to get the timing to hit.
How good is a medicine ball in training?
It’s very good. You have to practice throwing a medicine ball
with your wrists and arms. It is good for learning how to take
impact at the time it hits. You have to be able to tighten your
gut at the moment of impact and give a kiai.
In getting into shape should you begin with stretching or
You’ve got to stretch. You have to be limber in order to develop
Should you exercise after running or before?
Both. You exercise before so that you don’t pull any muscles.
When your muscles are hot after running, you will be able to
stretch a little further than when you first began running. It
will also cool down your muscles without cramping.
What is the quickest way to warm up?
It all depends on the type of workout you will be doing after
the warm-up. We cover different types in the book, but for a
general quick warm-up, jumping jacks and/or skipping rope are
What is the advantage of exercising with a partner?
Mentally, a partner gives you competition. He will give you the
incentive to push a little harder. You can do more advanced
exercises if you have a partner. Also, it is more fun if you
have someone there going through the grind with you.
Are boxers in better condition than karate fighters?
Yes they are, because they are always getting hit, and they have
to be in very good condition. They are always working on power
speed and impact. Their bodies are conditioned to take that
impact. In martial arts, most competitors don’t get hit with
that kind of impact often enough to be conditioned for it.
In traditional tournaments, a person, might get hit during
thirty seconds out of a three-minute time period, and even then
the hits are controlled. In boxing, the fighter gets hit
constantly during the round, so he has to be in better shape.
What is the proper amount of time one should work out every day?
Ideally, for professionals, one should work out a good four
hours, but not all at once. It should be spread out. You run for
an hour in the morning. In the afternoons, have a two-hour work
out which is more physical. In the evening, do an hour or so of
exercise workout. The way working out becomes natural because it
is being done all the time throughout the day. The
nonprofessional might want to work out from two to three hours
per day as his schedule permits.
How good are dynamic tension or isometric exercises?
These exercises are a way of giving you inner strength. They are
very good. I believe in inner strength.
Are there ways of strengthening the organs so they can take
No, but there are certain muscles around the organs you can
strengthen. Joints can never be strengthened to take impact.
Important notice: Before you try any new exercises or
nutritional diet programs, be sure to consult your physician.
Remember, common sense is your best defense again injury.
Out of all the questions regarding competition, no area has more
of an air of mystery surrounding it than the issue of impact-how
to take it, more than how to give it. There are many ways of
handling out punishment to your opponent and only two ways of
taking it, badly or like a pro.
Let’s face it, nobody likes to get hit, so most of us avoid it.
I try to avoid it like anybody else, but I can’t ignore the
inevitable, especially in my line of work.
The only true way of knowing if your technique creates pain is
to have it performed in yourself. I don’t mean absorbing the
full impact, but rather taking a portion of that impact so you
can imagine what a full force technique would feel like to your
opponent. Obviously, you don’t have to get kicked in the groin
or thumbed in the eye (if they were legal techniques) to know
what the pain would feel like.
In learning to accept impact, note that there are three types
that can occur in a fight. A stinging or slapping impact occurs
when a technique is snapped or controlled. You experience this
type of impact in traditional tournaments where a move is pulled
short of maximum effect.
The other types of impact that you will experience in the ring
are a shattering impact and a breaking impact. A shattering
impact shocks the body, but is doesn’t move the body from its
planted position. The technique is snapped similar to the way a
stinging impact is snapped. A breaking impact utilizes a
follow-through technique. That kind of impact will move the body
either backwards or to the side, depending on what you want. You
might, for example, deliver a combination of a shattering impact
technique and a breaking impact technique. One is to shock your
opponent’s body without moving him and the other is to finish
him off with a breaking impact.
To get into a fight and to receive an impact that your body has
never felt before sends a shock throughout your system and the
body tells the brain to give up, to stop this punishment. If, on
the other hand, the body is used to taking impacts, then it is
really no big deal to get hit. Your body is accustomed to it.
You know what it feels like so you know it’s no surprise. You
know the pain your opponent is experiencing, so you know what
damage your technique can do.
There are certain parts of the body that cannot be conditioned
to take impact. These are the joints, the groin, the face (which
includes the nose), and the organs, so don’t even try to get
them used to taking impact. The muscles around your organs, and
the muscle that covers your body, legs, and arms are what we
will be working on.
When people see me fight, they don’t think I feel any pain. That
is not so. I feel pain just like anybody else. The only
difference is that I have conditioned my body to the pain so it
is not a shock to my system when I get hit. I do feel the pain,
but you will never see it register on my face or in my moves.
The whole idea is to never let your opponent know that you do
The way you train is the way you react. I never wear any kind of
shin pads, arm pads, or protective equipment of any kind, save a
cup and a mouthpiece, when I train. I want to experience as much
as possible while training so there will be no surprises waiting
for me in the ring.
The following is a series of impact training techniques that can
be done alone or with a partner.
It is very important for you to start off these exercises gently
and work your way up with intensity. In a short amount of time
your body will accept this pain and it will be no big deal for
None of these practices are aimed at a joint, groin, throat,
spine, instep, or neck. Be certain, as a partner, you watch very
closely the areas with which you work. They are clearly shown in
the following photographs.
Remember, whether you are a tournament competitor or a
professional fighter, the reality of a fight in the street never
ends when one person hits the ground. It ends when one person
can’t continue. So these exercises are good for everyone to
experience. Knowledge is power and once you know and understand
these concepts there is never a need to fear again.
Can one learn to develop good balance?
Yes, through practice. First, you learn to walk properly. Then
you learn to balance yourself on one foot. Then you learn to
balance yourself while in the air.
What is the proper method of balancing yourself?
Keep you feet shoulder width apart so that your body is centered
in itself. This holds true if you are walking forward or
backward. Your weight should always be centered in yourself. In
a fighting position, your feet should be a little wider than
shoulder width apart.
Why is Balance Important?
In order to use weapons in an effective manner you have to have
good balance. If you’re striking an opponent and your balance is
off, half of your power is gone and you’re prevented from using
a follow-through. When you strike, providing you are well
balanced, all of your power is equalized.
Can you maintain as much balance in the air as you can on the
Yes, although it requires more skill. Most people are afraid of
using weapons in the air, but done properly you can balance as
good in the air as you can on the ground. A technique done in
the air has more impact because all of your weight as well your
power is coming into your opponent.
Should one fight from a wide or a narrow stance?
Always fight from a narrow stance. If you are too wide you have
to make two steps in your move. You have to throw your weight up
in order to move your leg. The result is a slow technique, which
is telegraphed to your opponent.
Does an ability to balance on one leg give you overall better
Not really. Balancing on one leg is good for kicks, but there is
a different type of balance for two feet.
Is practicing balance blindfolded a good method?
Yes, it is. Now you are using both feet to balance instead of
Are there any martial arts which emphasize balance more than
Korean styles use many kicking techniques and that require good
balance for many of their moves. The soft style of kung-fu also
requires a lot of balance.
What does “Learning how to walk” mean?
That exercise shows you how to keep your weight centered in
yourself in a forward motion. It means always being balanced.
Evading and Blocking
What does evading entail? Evading means redirecting your
opponent’s weapons without having to make contact. This is done
by moving out of the way without getting hit.
What is bobbing and weaving? Bobbing is dodging with your head
as your opponent’s weapon comes toward you. Weaving is done with
the upper part of your body.
What is a parry? A parry is a defense in which you direct your
opponent past his target area.
What is the difference between feinting and faking? A feint is a
hesitational movement you do with your head. You test your
opponent by getting his reaction to your movement. Faking means
you appear to use one weapon but then stop that action to use
another. You feint with the head and fake with the body.
What is redirecting? Redirecting is moving at an angle away from
your opponent’s weapons, but toward his body. You’re the target
area he is aiming for, but is no longer there. You have made him
aim for a different area. For example, your opponent is punching
you at 12:00. You move in a “v” position to either 11:00 or
1:00. You have now redirected his weapon.
What is the best way to develop the speed needed in bobbing and
weaving? You learn to move on reflex by practicing repetition
through sight and sound. You move on count. Don’t take anything
for granted. You practice by moving on command, not before and
Do you have to be evasive before delivering a technique? Some
styles believe blocking and striking at the same time. I
personally believe in striking without getting hit. The less you
get hit, the longer you will last. But you don’t necessarily
have to do that. You can just block and counter.
In your opinion, can a good evasive fighter defeat a good
offensive fighter? Not really because one of his offensive
techniques will sooner or later get you. You can’t just be
evasive without ever getting hit. A good offensive player knows
that too. For that reason, I advocate offensive over defensive.
Isn’t evading more widely used in boxing than in karate? Yes, it
is. The reason for that is because boxers only have two weapons
they have to worry about, their fists. They can get in there and
strike. But because of the legs, contact karate fighting
requires more distance.
Why would you jam an opponent? The object is to stop your
opponent’s weapons before he builds up momentum with an already
Is jamming a good device to use? For some people it is. If you
are a good close-in defensive fighter then it would be good to
use. But if you are a better kicker and you don’t know what to
do with your opponent once you’ve jammed him, you might find
yourself in trouble. If you are good at going in and out, then
it is good to jam. Jamming and hand techniques go together,
because you have nothing except your hands when you get in that
close, unless you throw him.
Is it true that there is not much blocking in full-contact
competition? A lot of people don’t know how to block correctly.
They would rather take a blow than to block. There are many
techniques in blocking. From your waist up you block with your
arms, from your waist down you block with your legs. Never reach
for your opponent’s weapon to block.
What are some blocking areas? You can block with your shoulders,
knees, thighs, arms, head, etc. There are many areas.
How do you develop power in your legs? You can develop power by
running and by using weights. The main thing to do is to build
up the endurance of your muscles. You gain endurance by running
up bleachers and hills. The bigger your legs, the more power you
will have behind them. In other words, the more weight you will
have to throw. There are also power bags you can work out with.
Any type of sport which involves short sprints where you have to
move around quickly will also help you develop power. Anything
which has to do with a squat or low position where your thighs
are constantly being pushed can build power. Dynamic tension
with a partner can also help you to develop power.
What do you think is the most powerful kick in karate? A
spinning back kick is the most powerful, because you are
spinning into your opponent in a locking thrust position and you
are using bone to go straight through instead of a round type of
a kick. I feel that the spinning back kick is one of the most
powerful and dangerous kicks in the martial arts.
Is it dangerous to use jump kicks? If you don’t know how to use
a jumping a kick properly, it can be dangerous. The dangerous
part is coming down into your opponent’s weapon if you’ve missed
What Muscles do you have to stretch to get your kicks high?
Mainly you work your groin, lower back, side of your hip, and
inner thigh muscles.
Are legs often used for blocking? Yes. As a matter of fact, in
Japan and Thailand, they block with their legs from the waist
down. From waist up they block with their hands. Remember, when
you block, you never want to reach for your opponent’s weapons
whether you’re using your hands or your legs.
How do you develop your legs so they don’t feel the pain from
impact? You have to train your legs to take the blow and accept
the pain without sending them into shock. The way fighters
practice in Thailand is by kicking a banana tree with their
shins. A banana tree is hard on the inside, but soft of the
outside. The way we simulate practice is by wrapping a carpet or
rug around a pole. This will also prevent your skin from
The problem is that your legs are not ready to take the impact
because they have never felt that kind of pain. When you shock
your body by giving it an impact it has never felt, it
retaliates right away. It wants to give up. You have to get used
to it in practice by doing it constantly, slowly at first and
then building up in intensity so it becomes something you can
Do you practice shadow boxing with your legs? Yes. I practice
the same way that I shadow box with my hands, but I do it
together in combinations.
Is it good to use herbs for toughening your shin? I don’t feel
that using herbs to numb the leg is good practice. You may hurt
yourself or even break a leg and not even know it. By not
knowing you have this injury you can further damage yourself,
perhaps even for life, by continuously using your legs after
they’ve been hurt. The only time I believe in using herbs is to
heal an injury.
Are ankle weights good for practice? No, ankle weights are bad.
They throw your timing off, they throw your accuracy off and
they get you tired quickly. When you take the weights off your
speed will be quicker, but your accuracy will still be off
because that is the way you have trained. If you want to use
weights, put them around your waist so your weight is centered
What is the fastest way to build leg muscles? Leg muscles can be
built the fastest through running and dynamic tension.
How can I build up speed? Build your speed by shadow boxing and
kicking in the air. Kicking at some object in the air, such as a
piece of paper, is excellent. Repetition builds up speed.
Is there any way a person can protect their toes while kicking?
Yes, by training your toes to go back. Always kick on the ball
of your foot.
How do you train to do jump kicks? You have to learn to go for
height. Once you get height, you learn to jump forward at a 45
degree angle. When you get height, you learn how to spin. Then
all of your kicks come into play.
What is the difference between the kicks in traditional karate
and full-contact karate? In traditional karate, there is no
follow through. You are trained to control your kicks. The kicks
are always snapped. The way you train is the way you react. If
you’re always training to snap or control your technique that
will also be your reaction when you compete professionally or
fight for real. In full contact, the technique is not
controlled; it is followed through.
What different types of kicks are there in full contact? In full
contact there are really just two types of kicks. There are
power kicks and whip kicks. There are no snap kicks. Power kicks
are driven through your opponent at a 45 degree angle. Whip
kicks are whipped around in a circular motion.
In a real fight is it better to kick high or kick low? Actually,
it is better to kick low because you will have maximum speed and
power. Also, the lower you are to the ground the better balance
How do you develop coordination in your legs? You can develop
coordination by skipping rope, running, going through and
obstacle course, by practicing katas and wazas, as well as by
Should I wear shin guard or pads while training? No. If you’re
going to train your body to accept the shock of impact you have
to do it while you’re training. You don’t wear shin guards or
pads in the ring, so you shouldn’t wear them while you train.
Are knees allowed in full-contact karate? Kicks either with the
knee or to the knee are not allowed in the United States rules
for full contact. They are allowed, however, in Thailand and
TECHNIQUES IN MOTION
How do you use techniques in motion? You must have a set pattern
that you go through. An example might be front ball
kick/roundhouse kick/sidekick/punch-punch. That can be your
first set routine. Then work out several other routines and
practice with a part with a partner while he’s holding a bag or
sparring. You practice with him while always going in forward
motion. You can’t use this pattern going backwards unless it is
Is it better to rush with your hands or feet first? If your
opponent is close to you, it is better to use your hands first
and then follow with your feet. If he is at a distance, then it
is better to use your feet to close the gap, then use your
Is jamming dangerous? Jamming isn’t dangerous if your opponent
is about to throw a technique and you jam his weapons because
this will throw his timing off. If he isn’t throwing a
technique, then it is a dangerous move.
What is the best technique to use after jamming your opponent?
If all your weapons are smothered because of jamming, it is
better to throw your opponent. A throw can also be a sweep.
How do you go about tying an opponent? First you have to be in
close contact with your opponent to tie up his hands. You
accomplish this by rushing your opponent and then pressing your
forearms against his hands and body. You don’t have to worry
about his feet because if you have his hands tied, your body is
too close for him to kick.
Is it better to move away from an attacking opponent or stand
and fight? It is always better to move because if you remain
stationary you become a sitting duck. The way you move is in a
clockwise or a counterclockwise motion, never in a straight
What do you feel is the most effective block in karate? To block
without blocking is most effective. To redirect. If you have no
choice and he kicks low, block with your legs. If he kicks or
hits high, tuck your head into your arms. Never reach for his
weapons. The idea is to take the impact against your body. If
you attempt to block in the traditional manner by raising your
arm up, or lowering it down to block a kick, you just leave an
opening for your opponent. Any time you use a weapon for a
defense, you leave a hole for him to attack.
Should every block be followed by a counter kick? Yes. You
should never block-block-block. If you do, your opponent will
ultimately wear you down and hurt you. The more you block, the
more he takes out of you. The idea is to strike without getting
hit. But if you take a blow, then make sure you give one.
Is it helpful to study judo in conjunction with karate?
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can
become. Judo teaches you how to fall, and it gives you that
inner strength you need. It also makes you very aware of keeping
your opponent off balance and how to use his weight against.
How effective are techniques that are done from the ground? In
competition, the fight ends on the ground. In the street, the
fight seldom ends on the ground; the fight ends when one of you
can’t continue. Martial arts such as aikido and judo have many
techniques for the ground, which compress pressure locks, joint
locks, and chokes.
Are spinning crescent kicks and sweep kicks done from the ground
effective in competition? Yes, they are. You can use them in two
ways. You can knock your opponent off balance or you can use
them to do damage.
What do you think are the most important things to know about
techniques in motion? There are three important things to know:
your eye gap, your distancing, and your timing.
Are sweeps really effective? Sweeps are very effective. They not
only knock your opponent off balance, but they can also do
How do you develop techniques for closing the gap? To close the
gap, you either have to fake or feint. You fake with your body
and feint with your head. You fake to make him begin a motion,
and you feint to keep him on his toes. Once you get him to
commit to a motion, there is no turning back. When he begins his
technique, you can then smother him.
There is also another technique, which is quite effective. You
use a slight bounce while you slowly advance in a forward
shuffling motion. His eyes will follow your up and down motion
and he won’t notice that you are closing the distance of the
Philosophy Of A Champion
-Never change what works
-Grasps whatever you can
-Learn what you want to learn, but never close your mind to
-Knowing yourself helps others.
-Never stop learning, never limit yourself to what you think you
-To be in 100 percent physical shape you must first in 100
percent mental shape.
-Respect your judgment. Remember, you cannot fool yourself.
-Take defeat as a process of learning
-Never degrade yourself by thinking negatively.
-If you lose, figure out why you lost and find the defenses,
which will help you the next time.
-In and out of the ring the secret of a martial artist is to
control his anger.
-There is no time for being old-fashioned. One must progress.
-Learn to train your mind to be ahead of your body.
-Beat the pain mentally and you can go on forever.
-Don’t try to be as good as somebody else; strive to be better.
-The way you train is the way you react.
Born in 1952 in the heart of the barrios of Los Angeles, Benny
Urquidez was the second youngest in a family of nine. His father
was a professional boxer and his mother was a professional
wrestler, so his fighting blood came naturally.
After competing in boxing as a child, he began his life-long
study of martial arts at the age of eight. Arnold Urquidez, the
eldest brother, was his first and most influential instructor.
However, he also studied under such masters as Ed Parker, Tak
Kubota, Bill Ryusaki, and Clarence Akuda. By age 14. The young
karateka received his Black Belt. He began to formulate his own
style which he terms “free form.” This fierce competitor was a
consultant winner in tournament competition.
An extremely colorful fighter, he captivated audiences in
England and Belgium as a member of Ed Parker’s 1974 United
States team. When professional karate emerged during the same
year, Urquidez retired from traditional competition. He became
part of the National Karate League (N.K.L.) and fought on their
Southern California-based team, the L.A. Stars. Eventually he
quit fighting for that team and began fighting for himself.
Having fought under the sanctioning bodies of the N.K.L., the
World Karate Association (W.K.A.), the professional Karate
Association (P.K.A.); for Aaron Banks and Tommy Lee, he always
emerged with their respective world titles. He was given the
nickname “The Jet” during a bout in New York by some
enthusiastic fans early in his career. The name stuck.
He continued to fight as well as spearhead full-contact karate
in the United States. In 1977, he traveled to Japan where he
defeated the best kick boxers that country had to offer. He
currently holds the lightweight and super lightweight world
titles. He has a record of over fifty undefeated title bouts to
Benny has been featured in two films, both documentaries on the
martial arts. Produces by the late Elvis Presley and still
unreleased, The New Gladiators deals with tournament
competition. The second documentary was produced and released in
Japan, where it was a box-office smash. This film shows the
professional side of the fighting arts. Titled Kings of the
Square Ring, it also features Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki.
6 X 9 softcover and limited hardcover editions
208 pages / 100 photos
Softcover perfect bound binding with high gloss UV veneer cover
Hardcover Sierra book cloth binding with gold foil stamping and high gloss dust jacket
Hardcover $49.95 - all hardcover copies are personally inscribed by Sensei Benny Urquidez
Read more about the book or order your copy now!
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- with Sensei Richard Norton and Sensei Benny Urquidez
- Richard Norton talks about Integrity in the martial arts world
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