Kumite – Beginner

Welcome!

Welcome to the very unique system of Sports Karate Combat!

First, we’ll go over the main rules. They will help you understand the whys of the hows of the techniques.

Then, we’ll learn the mechanics of the sports.

The most important thing to my eyes (and I have Douglas Brose to back me up) is the footwork. Everything goes down to how you move around the ring [tatami].
– As you can see, I put the Japanese terms in []. Get used to them because as we move forward in the more advanced levels, they will disappear slowly. –

So, as I was saying, the most important thing is the footwork [taisabaki]. That will be the first section.

Then, we’ll go over the 7 basic techniques you should know; Kizami-tsuki, Gyaku-tsuki, Mae-geri, Kizami-mawashi-geri, Mawashi-geri, Kizami-ura-mawashi-geri, Ura-mawashi-geri.

Finally, we’ll go over a few more rules to really get you in the game

Basic Rules

NO CONTACT ALLOWED (to the face (to a certain extend))

I  insist on this particular rule, because it is the one rule that sets sports karate apart to all the other stand-up combat sport. You are not allowed to hit the head [jodan]. To a certain extend i.e. kids 17 and under are allowed no contact whatsoever to the head [jodan], ever! Adults, on the other hand, if they compete at high level, are allowed slight to moderate contact.

Hitting the body [chudan], however, is allowed. I mean come on, it still is a fight.

The goal is to score points

Since no excessive contact is allowed to the head [jodan], the goal of the match is not to K.O. your opponent. It is rather to score points in that manner :
– Any punch is 1 point [yuko]
– Any kick to the body [chudan] is 2 points [waza ari]
– Any kick to the head [jodan] is 3 points [ippon]
– Any technique on a taken down opponent who has both shoulders on the ground is 3 points [ippon] (We’ll come back to this way of scoring in a different section of the site)

Every time one person scores, the referee will stop the match and award the points accordingly.

Winning the match

The match is set to last a certain amount of time. Every time the referee stops the match, the countdown is stopped. The countdown resumes when the match resumes. At the end of the allotted time;

  • The contestant with the most points wins.
  • In case of a draw, whoever scored first wins.
  • In case of a null, or a draw where both contestants always scored at the same time, judges will vote for the winner.
  • However, if one leads with a difference of 8 points or higher, that person wins according to the Mercy Rule.

The Mechanics

Basic stance[dachi]

If you are right-handed, your left foot is forward and vice-versa. From a front view, feet are slightly narrower than shoulder-width. From a side view, the stance is twice or three times longer than the width. Both knees are bent. The weight is distributed equally on both legs. The front foot is pointed forward. The back foot is slightly pointed outward (to the right if it is the right foot, vice-versa).

Hands are closed in a fist. The front hand (left hand if your left leg is forward and vice-versa) is at your opponent’s face level. The back fist is at your opponent’s belly level. Both elbows stay close to your body. Your hips are turned sideways.

Basic footwork[taisabaki]

Stepping forward:
The front foot moves forward as the back leg pushes. Then the back foot moves forward to the basic stance.

Stepping back:
The back foot moves back as the front leg pushes. Then the front foot moves back to the basic stance.

Stepping right:
The right foot moves to the right as the left leg pushes. Then the left foot moves right to the basic stance.

Stepping left:
The left foot moves to the left as the right leg pushes. Then the right foot moves left to the basic stance.

Kizami-tsuki

Kizami-tsuki is the karate jab. Kizami means ‘front’ and Tsuki means ‘punch’. For this hand technique like all the others, the whole body must move forward. As your front foot moves forward, your front hand extends. And as you move your back leg forward, bring back your front hand to 1) your hip and  and then to 2) the starting position.

Kizami-tsuki always aims for the face[jodan].

Gyaku-tsuki

Gyaku means ‘reverse’. A Gyaku-tsuki, which means ‘reverse punch’, is a punch with the right hand if your left foot is forward (and vice-versa). The same as with Kizami-tsuki, you must step forward as you punch. The difference is that you must pivot your hips to reach with your back hand, and your legs are in a lunge position on the impact (front knee bent at 90°, back knee bent down almost to the floor, back heel up).

After the impact, pull back your striking hand to 1) your hip and then 2) the starting position. As you pull back your hand, pivot your hips back to the starting position.

You can use Gyaku-tsuki either on the face[jodan] or the body[chudan].

Mae-geri

Mae-geri is the first kick to learn. It is commonly known as the front kick.

From the basic stance and before the strike itself, there is a transitional leg position. It is called ‘to chamber’ a kick. Begin by lifting your knee and aim for your target with it. Your leg is bent, your foot points forward and your toes point towards the ceiling.

For the chambered position, quickly extend and flex your leg back to the chambered position. Be as quick extending as you are flexing. Being as fast forward and backward is called ‘to snap back’ or ‘a snap back’.

On the impact, make sure to point your foot forward and to point your toes up and back! If you don’t, it will not be a good day for your toes.

You can use Mae-geri with your back leg or your front leg. Only use Mae-geri to the body[chudan] in a sparring match. (You can use it wherever for self-defense; shins, knees, groin, etc.)

Kizami-mawashi-geri

As you remember, ‘Kizami’ means ‘front’. ‘Mawashi-geri’ means ’roundhouse kick’. So ‘Kizami-mawashi-geri’ means ‘front roundhouse kick’.

The first step is to chamber the kick, as it is for Mae-geri.

To chamber a Kizami-mawashi-geri, lift your front knee and aim for your target. Your leg is bent. Your foot and toes are aligned with your shin. Your body is sideways. Your support foot is turned in the opposite direction of your target.

Once your knee is up, snap back your leg. You hit with the top of your foot in a kumite match (with the ball of your foot in self-defense).

As a beginner, you will want to use Kizami-mawashi-geri to the head[jodan] only.

Mawashi-geri

‘Mawashi-geri’ means ’roundhouse kick’. Most of the time, when it is referred to alone without a prefix like ‘Kizami’, it refers to a roundhouse kick given with the hind leg.

Lift your back knee as you turn your body 180°. Your knee points towards your target. Your support foot is turned in the opposite direction of your target. Your body is sideways.

Once your knee is up, snap back your leg. You hit with the top of your foot in a kumite match (with the ball of your foot in self-defense).

Mawashi-geri can be used to the head[jodan] or the body[chudan].

Kizami-ura-mawashi-geri

‘Kizami’ means ‘front’. ‘Ura-mawashi-geri’ means ‘hook kick’. Kizami-ura-mawashi-geri is therefore a hook kick given with the front leg.

The first step is to chamber the kick, as it is for any kick as you have noticed by now.

To chamber a Kizami-ura-mawashi-geri, lift your front knee and aim for your target. Your leg is bent. Your foot and toes are aligned with your shin. Your body is sideways. Your support foot (the one that is on the ground) is turned in the opposite direction of your target.

Now this kick is more complicated than simply snapping back.

Extend your leg past your opponent’s head so that they can see the back of your thigh. From there, bend your leg again and hit the head with the sole of your foot.

After the impact, extend your leg to remove your foot from their face. Bend your leg again to the chambered position. And you can finally go back to the basic stance.

Kizami-ura-mawashi-geri always goes to the head[jodan].

Ura mawashi geri

‘Ura-mawashi-geri’ means ‘hook kick’. Most of the time, when it is referred to alone without a prefix like ‘Kizami’, it refers to a hook kick given with the hind leg.

The first step is to chamber the kick, as it is for any kick as you have noticed by now.

To chamber a Ura-mawashi-geri, lift your back knee as you turn your body 180°. Your knee points towards your target. Your support foot is turned in the opposite direction of your target. Your body is sideways.

Now this kick is more complicated than simply snapping back.

Extend your leg past your opponent’s head so that they can see the back of your thigh. From there, bend your leg again and hit the head with the sole of your foot.

After the impact, extend your leg to remove your foot from their face. Bend your leg again to the chambered position. And you can finally go back to the basic stance.

Ura-mawashi-geri always goes to the head[jodan].

A Few More Rules

The next thing to learn is how the penalties work.

There are two categories of penalties called Category 1 and Category 2.

The first category is for excessive contacts. Every time one hits his opponent with excessive contact, he or she gets one penalty.
If the excessive contact is more severe, one can get two to four penalties at once.

The second category is for time-wasting behaviors. The four main are stepping outside of the ring, grabbing, fleeing the fight, and passivity.
Stepping out of bounds happens when any part of the body touches outside the red perimeter.
Grabbing with two hands is not allowed, UNLESS one of the hands grabs a kicking leg. Grabbing with one hand with the purpose of landing an attack is however allowed.
Fleeing the fight happens when one constantly backs up without intent to score points.
Passivity is when none of the contestants initiates attacks for a long time (20 to 30 seconds). BOTH fighter get a penalty.
Starting 15 seconds before the end, any Category 2 penalty brings the count of penalties to 3.

A fighter is disqualified if he or she brings up the count of penalties in any category to 4.

Examples:

  • 4 penalties for contact is a disqualification
  • Stepping out of bounds 4 times is a disqualification
  • Stepping out of bounds once & grabbing once & fleeing the fight & being passive once adds up to 4 penalties of Category 2 and leads to disqualification
  • Stepping out of bounds less than 15 seconds before the end of the match brings the count up to 3 immediately, and then fleeing the match adds another Category 2 penalty. That is also a disqualification.
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