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.

Types of kumite:

Ippon kumite – one step sparring, typically used for self-defense drills.

Gohon kumite – five-step sparring, pre-arranged attack and counter exercise

Jiyu kumite – free sparring