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Kumite (組手)

Kumite is where the techniques practiced in kihon and kata are applied against an opponent.  There are different formats of kumite designed for developing different skills, and appropriate for karate-ka of different levels.  In the most basic and controlled forms (kihon kumite), everything is predetermined and the attacker and defender each know exactly which techniques will be used and when.  Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum is jiyu kumite (freestyle sparring), where techniques are exchanged freely.  This jiyu kumite forms the basis for competition karate.

The relationship between kihon, kata and kumite cannot be overemphasised. 


Types of Kumite:


  • Gohon kumite – five step sparring

  • Sanbon Kumite – three step sparring

  • Ippon kumite - one step sparring

  • Jiyu kumite - free sparring


 There are three main concepts when attacking in karate:

  1. Go no sen - meaning “late attack” involves a defensive or counterattack in response to an opponent’s attack.

  2. Sen no sen – involves a defensive or counterattack launched simultaneously with the attack of the opponent.

  3. ensen no sen - an initiative launched in anticipation of an attack where the opponent is fully committed to their attack and thus psychologically beyond the point of no return.


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