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

Est telum se defendere