Kumite literally translated means "grappling hands" and is one of the three main sections of karate training, along with Kata and kihon. Kumite is the part of karate in which a person trains against an adversary, using the techniques learned from the kihon and Kata.
Kumite can be used to develop a particular technique or a skill (e.g. effectively judging and adjusting one's distance from one's opponent) or it can be done in competition.
Since the word "Kumite" refers to forms of sparring, it covers a vast range of activities. In traditional Shotokan karate, the first type of Kumite for beginners is Gohon Kumite. The defender steps back each time, blocking the attacks and performing a counterattack after the last block. This activity looks nothing like the jiyu Kumite (or "free sparring") practiced by more advanced practitioners, which is far closer to how karate would look if used in a real fight, especially because it is not choreographed. Karate and other forms of martial arts have various other types of Kumite (e.g. 3-step, 1-step, semi-free, etc.) which span this large range in
The types of Kumite used within Shotokan training in the S.K.K.K are as follows:
- Ippon Kumite - one step sparring, typically used for self-defence drills
- Gohon Kumite - five step sparring, typically used to develop speed, strength and technique
- Sanbon Kumite - three step sparring, typically used to develop speed, strength and technique
- Kiso Kumite - structured sparring drawn from a Kata
- Jiyu Kumite - free sparring
- Kaeshi Kumite - reaction sparring
- Okuri Kumite - ‘give back’ sparring