Kumite means sparring, and is one of the three main sections of karate training, along with kata and kihon. Kumite is the part of karate in which you train against an adversary, using the techniques learned from the kihon and kata.
Kumite can be used to develop a particular technique or a skill or it can be done in competition.
The main purpose of kumite,or sparring, is to learn to fight and defend oneself against an opponent,no matter what the size or skill level of that opponent. Because free sparring is potentially dangerous, it is important for students to build up to it so they develop control, both physical and emotional. To do this, We have different forms of Kumite,which take the student from the most beginning level to advanced.

Gohon kumite: five step sparring. The attacker announces the target, then takes five attack steps,each time to the designated target. The blocker steps back and blocks each attack, then after the last attack, counters with an attack technique of his own. The main purpose is to develop the students' breathing and rhythm control.

Sanbon kumite: three step sparring: The attacker announces the target, then takes three attack steps, each time to the designated target. The blocker steps back and blocks each attack, then after the last attack, counters with an attack technique of his own. The main purpose of sanbon kumite is to practice making correct distance, as well as to develop balance control.

Ippon kumite: one step sparring: The attacker announces the target, then steps forward once,attacking to the designated target. The blocker steps back or to the side/diagonal and blocks and counters immediately. The main purpose of ippon kumite is to practice and develop strong attacks, blocks, and counter-attacks.

Jiyu-ippon kumite: semi-fee one step sparring: Both participants begin in sparring stance, with fists raised in kamai. The main purpose of jiyu-ippon kumite is to practice “make-chance", and to develop the sense and timing of free sparring, while there is still one participant designated as attacker and one designated as defender. You can increase the difficulty by changing the rules.For example, have the students practice fakes, or have them not announce the next attack.

Jiyu Kumite : This is what is commonly called "sparring". You can improvise your own combinations of attacks/defences, and you learn to react to the unexpected - a "live" opponent! Certain techniques are not permitted for safety purposes (eye gouging, kicks to the groin or knee etc.), and we do not encourage students to spar until they are capable of defending themselves adequately - usually once they have passed the first grading examination. As an exercise and a training method it is a lot of fun, providing common sense prevails .

A black belt will tone down his or her sparring when faced with a less able partner and give them a chance to land a technique - the less experienced karateka are encouraged, not beaten to death. Jiyu Kumite is a learning experience first and foremost, a chance to try out new techniques in relative safety, a way to develop and maintain specific reactions or dominant responses. And have some fun!

Randori "Free For All"
As the name suggests there are no rules, restrictions or forbidden techniques. Randori is practiced by very senior grades only, those sensible and skilled enough to bear in mind that the person you are kneeing in the groin will be sitting next to you in the pub after training has ended!
A skilled karateka can deliver a controlled elbow strike to the face without causing damage to his opponent, who is also skilled enough to acknowledge that the blow, if delivered fully, would have caused severe damage.
   Randori is not an every day part of club training.

Methods of Teaching Kumite

When teaching kumite to a beginning student, you must begin with basics: start with gohon kumite, then sambon kumite. When the student can perform these and has become a little more advanced, work with them on ippon kumite.
However, even the most dedicated of students can become bored and distracted when going back and forth across the floor endlessly. Once distracted, the student stops learning and injuries can result. To alleviate this and continue to make the trainings interesting, you can modiff the exercises to keep them fresh and challenging.

1.When practicing gohon kumite, change the target so it's face-stomach-face-stomach-face, instead of all jodan or all chudan attacks.

2.During gohon or sambon kumite, have the blocker try a counter-attack after every attack.

3.During gohon or sambon kumite, have the blocker shift diagonally instead of straight back each attack.

4.For ippon kumite, work with different timing ideas. Try go no sen timing first, then sen no sen timing. For example, have the blocker try to jam the attack with a mai-ashi kekomi (front leg thrust) to the attacker's hip area. This will work if the attacker is still in the beginning stages of the attack. Alternatively, have the blocker shift in and kizami zuki jodan, catching the attacker mid-stride.

5.For ippon kumite, try different shifting strategies. Have the blocker shift in, shift to the side, and shift diagonally back. Work with different counter attacks.

6.For jiyu ippon kumite, allow more and more advanced sparring strategies. Once the students understand and can perform basic semi-free sparring, make some changes. Allow them to fake.

*Have the attacker nol announce the next technique, which could be any of four or five allowed.

*Allow the blocker to respond with two counter techniques instead of one. The variations are limitless.

Kumite Tips

Here are some good tips that you can implement into your karate class kumite (sparring).

1. Distance is the first area explored in karate kumite. There are four different distances used, they are long range, medium, close and real close (grappling).

A good measure of distance initially, is to stand opposite your training partner in shizentai (natural stance) and extend one arm until you can touch your partners shoulder. From this position, you can step back with the right leg into hidari (left) gedanbarai (downward block), you now have a good starting distance for the basic karate kumite exercises.

The first kumite exercise in shotokan karate has two variations, they are both very similar and only differ in the amount of attacks and defences used. The two variations are gohon kumite (5 step sparring) and sanbon kumite (3 step sparring).

2. When attacking, defending and counter attacking, ikken hisatsu (to finish with one blow) should be implemented. This is very important, when you attack your opponent, you should be trying to finish the fight with a single blow, when you block and counter, you should be trying to finish the fight with a single blow. At the same time, you do not want to put your training partner in hospital, so control should also be a priority.

3. Breathing should be silent and hidden, a good fighter will capitalize on their opponents poor breathing. If your opponent is breathing heavy, just as they are about to finish breathing out, ATTACK! This is the best time to attack, try it and see.

4. If your opponent gets easily distracted and they look away a regular intervals, try and time an attack just as they get distracted and start to look away.

5. blinking is an opportunity to attack, watch closely, you may think this is impossible, but try it and you will be surprised.

6. When you attack, try not to give any signs away that you are attacking and the basic 3 or 5 step sparring is excellent for practicing non-telegraphed movement.

7. Stay relaxed at all times, a tense body is a body that will break! A relaxed body is a body that will move and adapt to different situations.

*Karate for beginners
classes always start slowly, so do not be put off by this article, please do not think you are going to be fighting the toughest black belts in the dojo. Everything is done slowly and gradually you will find yourself more and more at ease with the kumite. the sparring part is the hardest, so please be sure to enroll in a good karate dojo.

some the techniques of kumite "video"

gohon kumite 

sanbon kumite 
ippon kumite
Jiyu ippon kumite
Kaeshi Ippon Kumite

Shobu – Competition

Karate competition follows very precise rules which cross all boundaries of style, association or club. In short, competitors wear either Ao (blue belt) or Aka (red belt), and a referee starts and stops the bout, and awards points for well executed techniques.

Very simply, basic punches or hand strikes score one point, head level kicks and takedowns (with an immediate finish) score three points, and everything else scores two points.

The goal is to gain a lead of eight ippon (points). At the end of the three minutes the fighter with the most points wins if no one has amassed a lead of eight points.

This is a very technical form of fighting, and involves tactics and skill in preference to brute force and ignorance. Karate is on the verge of being an Olympic Sport and may be in the Olympics soon. Shobu competition requires specialised training, and is not appropriate for all Karateka.

WKF Kumite rules for competitors


1. Duration of the Kumite bout is defined as three minutes for Senior Male Kumite (both teams and individuals) and two minutes for Women’s, Junior, and Cadet Bouts.

2. The timing of the bout starts when the Referee gives the signal to start, and stops each time the Referee calls “YAME”.

3. The timekeeper shall give signals by a clearly audible gong, or buzzer, indicating “30 seconds to go” or “time up”. The “time up” signal marks the end of the bout.


1. Scores are as follows:

SANBON Three points
NIHON Two points
IPPON One point

2. A score is awarded when a technique is performed according to the following criteria to a scoring area:

Good form
Sporting attitude
Vigorous application
Awareness (ZANSHIN)
Good timing
Correct distance

3. SANBON is awarded for:

Jodan kicks.
Throwing or leg sweeping the opponent to the mat followed by a scoring technique.

4. NIHON is awarded for:

Chudan kicks.
Punches on the back, including back of the head and neck.
Combination hand techniques, the individual components of which each score in their own right.
Unbalancing the opponent and scoring.

5. IPPON is awarded for:

. Chudan or Jodan Tsuki.
. Uchi.

6. Attacks are limited to the following areas:

. Head
. Face
. Neck
. Abdomen
. Chest
. Back
. Side

7. An effective technique delivered at the same time that the end of the bout is signalled, is considered valid. A technique even if effective, delivered after an order to suspend or stop the bout shall not be scored and may result in a penalty being imposed on the offender.

8. No technique, even if technically correct, will be scored if it is delivered when the two contestants are outside the competition area. However, if one of the contestants delivers an effective technique while still inside the competition area and before the Referee calls “YAME”, the technique will be scored.

9. Simultaneous, effective scoring techniques delivered by both contestants, the one on the other (AIUCHI) shall not score.

some the techniques -Competition “video”

WKF Kumite for competitors vedio

All forms of fighting test the body to it's limits. You work muscles and joints in strange and unusual ways, your mind has to be focused and clear, and, at the end of the day, it's a great way to work out all those frustrations, niggles and hassles of every day life that just seem to keep piling on top of you.
Have you ever wondered why people who train seriously in the martial arts for many years are so calm and laid back?

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