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Sparring - Kumite

Sparring is effectively play fighting.

The idea is that students can practise their skills in a safe environment.

As students become more skilled and physically conditioned, the level of difficulty and the amount of contact between opponents increases.

There are two main types of sparring:

  1. Pre-arranged sparring [Yakusoku Kumite 約束組手] and
  2. Freestyle sparring [Jiyū Kumite 自由組手]


Pre-arranged sparring [Yakusoku Kumite 約束組手]

This is often taught as a one-, two-, or three-step combination to keep practice focussed on a specific technique or combination.

In Japanese:

  • one-step sparring is called Ippon Kumite 一本組手
  • two-step sparring is called Nihon Kumite 二本組手 and
  • three-step sparring is called Sambon Kumite 三本組手


Freestyle sparring [Jiyū Kumite自由組手]

Freestyle sparring is where you have the freedom to choose for yourself the techniques you want to use in attack and defence.

Sparring is usually conducted in a specific floor area, and with a time limit. While general assessments of how well a student spars can be made from the sideline, the student should spend a few moments after the round to go over what happened in their head, specifically:

  1. What worked?
  2. What didn’t work (and why)?
  3. What could have been done better?
  4. What can I do to improve?