What is Kumite
The translation of the Japanese word ‘kumite’ is ‘sparring’ and so naturally kumite training is sparring (or fighting). Karate sparring can come in many forms (below), but they all have one important thing in common, all sparring is carried out against a real opponents (unlike Kihon and Kata where the opponents are imaginary). For this reason kumite is commonly the most competitive of the 3 main training methods.
Basic partner work introduces pre-arranged training drills that help us get used to using different punches, kicks, blocks and strikes. Through these set training drills we are able to directly apply our defensive movements and counters against actual attacks.
In traditional Shotokan karate, the first type of kumite for beginners is gohon kumite. The defender steps back each time, blocking the five attacks and performing a counterattack after the fifth block. This activity looks nothing like the jiyu kumite (or “free sparring”) practiced by more advanced Shotokan practitioners, which is far closer to how karate would look if used in a real fight, especially because it does not require the use of particular stances. Shotokan karate has various other types of kumite (e.g. 3-step, 1-step, semi-free, etc.) which span this large range in styles of practice.
Types of Kumite
|Gohon Kumite||Five step sparring||Beginner|
|Sanbon Kumite||Three step sparring||Beginner|
|Kihon Ippon Kumite||One step sparring||Intermediate|
|Jiyu Ippon Kumite||Semi Freestyle||Intermediate|
|Jiyu Kumite||Freestyle sparring.||Advanced|