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Jiyu Kumite

All people who engage in Jiyu Kumite must always keep in mind the “Spirit” that should exist in Kumite (sparring) in Goju-ryu Karate-do, and they must be familiar with the characteristics of the “Techniques” of Kumite in Goju-ryu Karate-do.


The goals of the attacks and defences (Kôbô) of Goju-ryu’s traditional Jiyu Kumite are to develop your sparring techniques, as well as being spiritual training for your fighting “spirit”.The attacks and defenses of one’s opponent are a fight against yourself by projecting oneself onto your opponent, and in doing so you can borrow the other person to focus on developing yourself, while sparring.In the course of sparring, therefore, you must always remember to be grateful to your opponent.In the event that your opponent’s level is lower than yours, if you continue attacking that person in a one-sided manner, with an ostentatious display of how strong you are, that would be disrespectful to your own self and would call for deep contrition. If the two people engaged in Kumite were allowed to attack one another in an emotional manner, Kumite would no longer constitute competition. It is fine to have a vigorous fighting spirit, but while attacking at a minimum one must remember the “feeling of respect for one’s opponent”. Correctly controlling one’s emotions will result in correctly controlling one’s fists, and it will also heighten the dignity of one’s Karate.Grappling and decisive techniques used against an opponent must also be controlled. Controlled strikes and kicks do not mean weakening one’s force, but remembering to execute one’s techniques with enough distancing so that one can compete more at ease while maintaining his or her power, that is, to use techniques called “stopping one inch away” (sun-dome) or “stopping at the point of impact” (ate-dome).  


Kumite in Goju-ryu is, as indicated by its name, comprised of endless combinations of “hard” (go) and “soft” (ju), and it is an arrangement of strong and weak that is an intricate combination of linear and curved movements. A small amount of power can be used to utilize your opponent’s power against him, and one can observe many techniques that receive high assessment as a matter of the physical sciences as well. What characterizes Goju Kumite is that the two karateka will engage in attacks and defenses (Kôbô) in a variety of continuous techniques (renzoku waza) in close range fighting (sekkin-sen).“Blocking” (uke) does not mean separating and escaping from your opponent. The close range distancing for “blocking” is equal to that for “attacking”, so attacks and defenses are not artificially separated in Goju-ryu Kumite. With continuous movements in close range where it is difficult to accelerate, one must continuously demonstrate full power by applying force utilizing the turning of one’s body and the turning of one’s hips and shoulders. Actions should be based on the turning of one’s body with circular motions as the main axis, and attacks and defenses should be based on intuitive judgments (sabaki). You may use any stance (tachi-kata), but the “Cat Foot Stance” (neko-ashi dachi) is associated with the characteristic image of Goju-ryu. “The Cat Foot Stance” has the advantage of enabling you to adapt rapidly to your opponent’s moves and changing situations, while at the same time making it easy to transition to other stances.  


Jiyu Kumite offers one a great opportunity to demonstrate techniques that one has developed over the entire course of one’s training.In Jiyu Kumite one will be evaluated not only in one’s techniques, but also in one’s overall capabilities, including one’s character. For a person full of power and stamina but poor technique, or a person who has a good appearance and speed but is lacking in stamina, or a person with a high level of techniques but is lacking in control and makes “contact” (ate) too much without regard to distancing, or a crude and rough person lacking in attitude and character, not only the number of karate techniques that person possesses, but also that person’s human nature are exposed through Jiyu Kumite.In order for the power of Kumite to be given proper respect, it is desired that Kumite be filled with moderation and dignity.

Competition Kumite

You can score up to three points in one move when doing competition kumite. The referee signals how many points you receive. Ippon means one point, Nihon means two points, and Sanbon means three points.


Awarded for:Any punch (tsuki) delivered to any of the seven scoring areas excluding the back, the back of the head and neck.Any strike (uchi) delivered to any of the seven scoring areas.


Awarded for:Chudan kicks. Chudan being defined as the abdomen, chest, back and side.Punches delivered to the opponent’s back, including the back of the head and neck.Combinations of punching and striking (tsuki and uchi) the individual components of which each score in their own right, delivered to any of the seven scoring areas.Any scoring technique delivered after permissible physical action of the contestant has caused the opponent to lose balance as the score is made.


Awarded for:Jodan kicks. Jodan being defined as the face, head and neck.Any scoring technique which is delivered after legally throwing, leg sweeping, or taking the opponent down to the mat.

The Points System Explained

The reason you can score more points for some moves than you can others is simple, it is easier to do a reverse punch to the stomach than it is to do a roundhouse kick tothe head. Therefore, you get one point for the reverse punch, and three points for the head kick. 

The Penalty System Explained

The order of penalties is as follows:

Chucoku, Keikoku, Hansoku, ChuiHansoku

Each penalty can be given for either category one or two, and they do not mix.

A Chucoku is a warning and no points are given to the opponent.

A Keikoku is a penalty and one point is given to the opponent.

A Hansoku Chui is a penalty and two points are given to the opponent.

A Hansoku is a disqualification, resulting in the opponent winning.

Finally, a Shikakku is a serious disqualification, resulting in the opponent winning, and is given only if the competitor breaches the etiquette of Karate-do.  

The Competition Area 

When fighting in a competition, Aka is red, and Ao is blue. If you are looking from the opposite side of the referee (normally where the spectators sit), then Aka will be on the left, and Ao on the right.