Rochford Shotokan Training : Kumite - fighting

Kata and kumite are complementary training methods, building on the foundation of kihon. In kata, one learns sequences of basic techniques; in kumite, one applies them with a sparring partner.

The principles of kihon still apply to kumite: the karateka must apply proper karate techniques, demonstrate correct power and speed, and, above all, exercise good control -- contact is prohibited.

One must remember that, while kumite is a useful application of the fundamentals learned through kata, it is not a substitute for kata.


There are three types of kumite: basic kumite, ippon (one-step) kumite, and jiyu (free) kumite.

1) Basic kumite, consisting of five- or three-step sparring, permits the cultivation of basic blocking and attacking through prearranged techniques. It is a useful introduction to sparring for beginning students.

2) Ippon (one-step) kumite also involves basic, prearranged techniques, but adds emphasis on body movements and proper distancing from the opponent.

3) In jiyu (freestyle) kumite, techniques are not prearranged. Karateka may freely engage their physical and mental powers, but must strictly control their attacks -- contact is prohibited. This means that they must be well-trained and disciplined enough to make a powerful blow that stops just short of its target, and for this reason, only advanced students may practice jiyu kumite.

3) In jiyu (freestyle) kumite, techniques are not prearranged. Karateka may freely engage their physical and mental powers, but must strictly control their attacks -- contact is prohibited. This means that they must be well-trained and disciplined enough to make a powerful blow that stops just short of its target, and for this reason, only advanced students may practice jiyu kumite.

(Note: Most karateka learn jiyu ippon kumite -- a combination of one-step and free sparring -- as brown belts. In this semi-free form of sparring, both sides must use basic, prearranged techniques, but may act according to their own rhythm and timing. Jiyu ippon kumite often serves as a bridge between ippon and jiyu kumite.)

(Note: Most karateka learn jiyu ippon kumite -- a combination of one-step and free sparring -- as brown belts. In this semi-free form of sparring, both sides must use basic, prearranged techniques, but may act according to their own rhythm and timing. Jiyu ippon kumite often serves as a bridge between ippon and jiyu kumite.)

Click for more information on kumite terminology

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