Kumite, Kumite, Kumite


If you saw the movie “Bloodsport,” you’ll remember the music playing behind some of the fight scenes. It was a driving beat, with these words as its chorus:

Kumite, kumite

Kumite, kumite

Kumite, kumite

Kumite, kumite

Kumite is a Japanese word that’s translated into English as both “sparring” and “free fighting.” Training in Kumite begins with pre-arranged sparring with one student defending against the stepping attack of another student. They are partners, so the purpose is not to better another person but to help them become better at defending themselves against an attacker.

Sparring at Kyu Level (pre-Black Belt)

Kihon Ippon Kumite – Basic one step sparring (pre-arranged – defender blocks stepping punch)

Ippon Kumite –  One point sparring (pre-arranged – defender blocks, traps and counters stepping punch)

Sparring at Dan Level (Black Belt)

Sandan Kumite – Three step sparring (pre-arranged – defender blocks first two punches, then blocks, traps and counters third punch)

Godan Kumite – Five step sparring (pre-arranged – defender blocks four punches and kicks, then blocks, traps and counters fifth attack)

Jiyu Ippon Kumite – One step sparring from free stance

Jiyi Kumite – Controlled free style fighting

We do not practice free style Kumite in Grace Martial Arts classes for three reasons: our concern for everyone’s safety, self-defense is not about fighting, and true self-defense has no rules. Your attacker is not playing by the rules. They mean you harm, possibly great bodily harm. There are no referees watching out for you in a real self-defense situation. No one is going to throw a flag and warn your attacker when they do something that wouldn’t be allowed in a Karate sparring match. You have to be ready for the possibility that your attacker will fight dirty and try to seriously injure you, or even kill you. Your self-defense in that situation may also be against “the rules.”

Because our training is about self-defense and not sport, we have to be very careful when training in Kumite. We start with pre-arranged one-step sparring where everyone knows what’s going to happen. That way nobody gets hurt while we’re learning how to use martial arts techniques to defend our lives.

The testing for the next two Monday nights will include Kumite along with Kata for those of you who are at that level in your training. Beginning white belts will not be tested for Kumite or Kata, but those of you who are testing for Yellow Belt and above should be ready to demonstrate what you’ve learned.

Our number one rule in Grace Martial Arts is “safety.” Whether you are the attacker or defender, remember to judge the distance of all your strikes and kicks and miss your partner by several inches. And be ready to have fun. See you Monday night!

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

Grace Martial Arts


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