100-man kumite.

by Ryan Gregory, August 19th, 2012

One of the most exhausting drills that we do in our dojo (at least at the junior belt levels) is one in which we’re surrounded by four partners with kicking shields, and we have to do an intense 45 seconds or so of multiple attacks on one shield after another. For comparison, 45 seconds is about the length of time it takes the best runners to do the 400m, how long it takes the best swimmers to complete the 100m freestyle, and is the average duration of an NHL hockey shift. ┬áThose are top athletes — for the rest of us, 45 seconds of all-out exertion can be draining. (And we usually do 2-3 rounds).

But it’s nothing compared to the marathon of sparring that some karateka from the Kyokushin style have managed to accomplish. I’m speaking, of course, about the 100-man kumite.

The 100-man kumite, as the name implies, is a gruelling test of endurance in which an individual must fight 100 opponents in succession, clearly defeating at least 50% of them. Full contact. Without pads. It was devised by the founder of Kyokushin, Mas Oyama, as a test of his own skill. In fact, he went on to complete it three times over the course of three days.

Since Oyama, only a handful of karateka have finished a 100-man kumite. A list posted on this Kyokushin website includes only 15 people who have successfully completed the 100-man kumite since 1965.

Forget sparring for 45 seconds. If you imagine 2 minutes per round, that’s more than 3 hours of full contact kumite. Here are some stats from Hajime Kazumi’s 100-man kumite in 1999:

Average time per round: 1 minute 30 seconds
Total Fighting Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Results 58 wins, 42 draws, no losses
Ippons: 16 (Ippon: 2, Awase-Ippon: 14)
Wins by decision: 42

Several of the more recent examples were captured on video, and some of them are available on YouTube.

Shokei Matsui (1986):

Akira Masuda (1991):

Francisco Filho (1995):

Hajime Kazumi (1999):

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