Sunday, September 5, 2010


One of the most interesting training methods that I have been introduced to involves the blindfold.  Don a blindfold half way through your next class.  Practice randori of some sort without your sight.  Losing one of your senses really shows you where you truly understand a technique and where you don't.  

My Sensei constantly impresses upon me the importance of controlling myself and my opponent.  He says I need to control both my body and where my partner's body goes.  When I do a take down or a throw, I need to consciously direct or 'place' his/her body where I want it.  No exercise I know improves this more than when your are blindfolded.

First, you need to know where your attacker is.  Is he/she behind, beside or in front of you?  Is their right or left hand grabbing and/or attacking?

Second, you need to control their body.  You need to feel where their balance is, how to break it, and if you throw or take down, where they land.

Practice like this will often first result in your partner ending up across the mats, out of you reach, but with consistent practice, your technique will tighten up just as well as with your eyes open.

This training method will really put you in touch with your training partner's energy and movement.  

I have had the chance to work with a black belt who was blind.  This black belt could actually sense attacks coming in such as punches and kicks.  Once the lights in the dojo went out.  Everyone was scrambling, of course, except the black belt.  Funny to see, or not see, as the case may be.

Removing one sense really shows where you're at.  For anyone who does kata, do it blindfolded.  Do you end up in the same spot as you do when your eyes are open?

Give it a try.  I think any person in any style can benefit from the occasional blind session.


  1. We did an excercise during an Iain Abernethy course I went on where we had to locate where our partners moving limbs were with our eyes shut. This was to demonstrate how proprioception worked. I haven't really done any blindfold work but apparently it's good for improving spatial awareness and judging distances.

  2. it is truly difficult to pin the tail on the donkey after blindfolded kata...
    another favourite of mine is the weapons kata with the opposite hand...

  3. I've always been a fan of blindfolded exercises.

    We use it in karate to develop tuite and tegumi skills, although generally I do not ask students to try and stop punches or kicks while blindfolded. The blind individual you mentioned certainly had acute senses to be able to do that routinely!

  4. Sue,

    I would agree that it's a good tool for improving awareness. One quick idea is to just close your eyes and have someone grab you. You'll find you start to figure out which hand is grabbing you and where your opponent is standing.


    Ah yes, the opposite hand kata...


    Thanks for stopping by. Just to clarify, I do not recommend students try to stop punches or kicks when blindfolded either. I was just amazed with the blind Sensei and his ability to do so. Often it was done when physical contact had been made, such as when his opponent grabbed him with one hand and tried to punch him with the other. He was sensitive enough to feel the shift in balance and energy to know what was coming. Amazing!

  5. Nice post!

    We practice blindfold kata and self-defense with the advanced students. The blindfold self-defense sessions are intense.

    We tried practicing self-defense simulating an injured arm or leg. It was an interesting class.