Technical Guide

Kumite (Sparring)               

Calligraphy for Kumite

In kumite two men face off demonstrating defensive and offensive techniques ensuring that while the techniques are being performed that balance is not lost.Basically kumite can be considered the application of fundamentals learned in kata. In the dojo, the Sensei would always advise that training for improvement in kata is absolutely necessary for the improvement in kumite. The senior masters of the JKA always stress that Kata and kumite are like the two wheels of cart. In the early days, jiyu Kumite was unknown and it was only with the introduction in the universities of Japan that modern karatekas took to Jiyu Kumite as a means to test their skills against one another. Funakoshi Dai Sensei was however against this practice stressing mainly on the training of kata and it was only after his demise that the first Kumite Tournament was held.

While learning karate in the Dojo, the student goes through three phases of kumite training
The three types of kumite are kihon kumite, jiyu ippon kumite and jiyu kumite.
1) Yaksoku Kumite:
The term Yaksoku means promised. In this kumite the two players face each other at a designated interval and after determining which technique is to be practiced take turns at offensive and defensive roles. In this type of sparring, the attacker must make a prior commitment to attack with only the promised technique to the designated area. This is also known as Kihon Kumite and is the most basic type of kumite.
There are different types of kihon kumite -
a) Gohon kumite (where the roles of defence and attack are enacted in 5 steps)
b) Sanbon kumite(where the roles of defence and attack are enacted in 3 steps)
c) Kihon ippon kumite (where the roles of defence and attack are enacted in one step)
d) Kaeshi Ippon Kumite (An innovation of the kihon ippon kumite,this type of kumite is
usually practiced in the dojo where the defender counterattacks with a whole step and forces the attacker to defend himself.
e) Okuri ippon Kumite (In this variation the attacker makes two attacks of which only the
first is announced or predetermined.The second attack is the attacker's choice based on the distance and other factors
f) Jiyu Ippon Kumite: The attacker is free to choose his stance and interval between his opponent and makes an offensive move after announcing which techniques he is going to apply. The opponent is free to choose a defensive technique.

2) Jiyu Kumite: In jiyu Kumite the opponents are free to apply any techniques attacking freely with offensive kicks, strikes and punches as in an actual combat situation. The attacks must have maximum power but must stop short of coming in contact with the opponent's body.

The calligraphy reads Ikken hisatsu meaning
" kill with one blow"
This is emphasized in Shotokan Training and every novice is made aware of this. It is based on this concept that the rules of Karate Matches were first formulated and to date the JKA system still follows on Ippon system where an Ippon is awarded for a killing blow

KUMITE MATCH (Free Style sparrings): Free-style sparring consists of a match between two contestants. Both contestants must both attack and defend while attempting to get in a "killing" blow by means of an appropriately placed punch strike or kick. This "killing" blow must be stopped just short of the target. The distance the attack is stopped should be close enough so that if not stopped but let to follow through, it would actually strike the target (face, neck or mid - section). It must be remembered by the contestants that to actually strike the opponent with such a blow is dangerous as it could be fatal and therefore STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
It is for this reason therefore only Karate players senior and mature enough having the ability to exercise a very precise control over all their movements are allowed to participate in these matches. Such players normally are black belt holders.