Kumite (sparring practice) is an established part of Karatedo. It is the closest thing to actual combat although it must be said that kumite is not in anyway a reflection on what could happen in a real street/public situation. In order to control and maintain the highest levels of safety within the dojo,  Instructors will segregate those practicing kumite and match partners according to their ability and level of control. In the early stages beginners will not be required to participate in Kumite but will be taught in pairs on techniques which will allow students to perfect distancing between them and their partner.

Combination techniques will also be introduced to allow the necessary balance and coordination in order for them to move freely. Students must ensure that they can remain focused with complete concentration but at the same time not tense. Safety is the prime priority when practicing kumite. The instructor will temporarily prohibit sparring for any student he considers unable to exhibit sufficient accuracy and/or control, or for any other reason the instructor feels appropriate.  Special care and consideration is given regarding juniors and sparring practice. For example matching the height, age, physique, attitude and confidence of the students.

It must be ephasised that the object of Kumite is to develop learned skills in order to gain confidence and control whilst being attacked. In a competitive environment the student must exhibit not only focus and control but maintain complete respect for their opponent. We need to always remember it’s about winning over your own fears and “ not about winning at all cost ”.

Sparring must be controlled, and the level of contact will be as follows:

Protection(Must be used)
Recommended grades practicing
Required for grading
No contact, body only
Mitts, shin pads
9th kyu & above
Touch contact, body only
Mitts, shin pads, armour
8th Kyu & above
6th Kyu to 3rd Kyu
Touch contact, no contact head
Mitts, shin pads, armour
4th Kyu & above
2nd Kyu and 1st Kyu
Touch contact body, touch contact head
Mitts, shin pads, armour, head gear
2nd Kyu & above
1st Dan & above

Kumite basic rules.

  • No techniques below belt
  • No techniques to head (except higher grades, as above)
  • No techniques to area around spine (central back)
  • No knife hand or finger strikes
  • No elbow or knee techniques
  • No grabbing or throwing

The Kumite element in grading  for Kyu grades is limited to student’s aged 14 and above.  The duration is for 1 minute or the first to two points (whichever is sooner). Kumite for Dan grades have additional parts.

For kumite training involving touch contact, groin guards (for males) and chest protectors (for females) are highly recommended. If a female is sparring without the chest protector then the target area is reduced to below the breasts. For beginners training is non-contact to the body only. Later as the student develops in proficiency the target areas and level of contact are increased. Protective clothing must be worn and may be purchased via the instructor.