Kumite means sparring, and is one of the three main sections of the karate syllabus training, along with kata and kihon. Kumite is the part of karate in which you train against an adversary using the techniques learnt from the kihon and kata elements of the syllabus.
There are two types of kumite, Pre-arranged kumite called ‘yakusoku kumite’ and free-form kumite called ‘jiyu kumite’.
Pre-arranged kumite (yakusoku) consists of set movements where one opponent has a pre-arranged attack(s) while the other opponent defends against the attack(s) again through prearranged blocks. In Yakusoku Kumite, the attacker learns to make single and or multiple attacks in proper technique while the defender learns to recognise incoming attacks and to react accordingly also in proper form. Pre-arranged kumite is used to develop the principles of timing, distance, correct posture, correct breathing and correct hand and leg movements. Yakusoku kumite is the method we use to start introducing beginners to the more advanced form of kumite called Jiyu Kumite. Yakusoku kumite however is also used for the more advanced students in the pursuit of perfecting the art.
The more advanced form of kumite ‘Jiyu-kumite’ or free sparring allows students to move freely around the dojo in a free-style posture and stance as opposed to the structured pre-arranged sparring. The purpose Jiyu-Kumite is the interaction between two students that teaches them to learn off each other by recognizing opportunities, taking advantage of targets presented to them, and reacting accordingly. Jiyu-Kumite simulates karate and what it would look like if used in real life combat. Jihu-Kumite is fully supervised by the head instructor of the dojo where students are required to wear gloves and only make contact to the torso areas (i.e. below the neck and above the waist)