Kumite means sparring, and is one of the three main parts of karate training, along with kata and kihon. Kumite is when you train against an adversary, using the techniques learnt from the kihon and kata.
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 five attacks and performing a counterattack after the fifth block. This activity looks nothing like the jiyu kumite (or “free sparring”) practiced by more advanced Shotokan practitioners, which is far closer to how karate would look if used in a real fight, especially because it does not require the use of particular stances. Shotokan karate has various other types of kumite (e.g. 3-step, 1-step, semi-free, etc.) which span this large range in styles of practice.
Types of Kumite