Kumite can be divided into different styles. Some styles are full contact although for competition there are more restrictions on striking areas for safety.
In Fushin Ryu karate we have what we call "Dojo Kumite" which although controlled contains the use of Knees, Elbows and grappling and "Tournament Kumite"
which follows the WKF rules.
Kumite(free sparring) is relatively new as the
techniques of karate had been considered too dangerous to use in a "free" situation.
Although complete control is the aim of the karate-ka, it is possible for two exponents
moving at top speed to receive injury. Safety equipment such as hand protectors and
mouthgaurds are compulsory; groin and chest protectors are recommended.
The KUMITE match demonstrates the fighting
aspects of Karate-do. However, there is a difference between Dojo sparring and sport
competition. The Dojo sparring simulates a real fight in which the main objective is
to despatch the attacker as quickly as possible by whatever means. Competition karate
has the same aim to win as quickly as possible, but because you are fighting a similarly
experienced opponent, the opportunity to win quickly does not always present itself.
Also, many techniques are not allowed in competitive karate because of their extrememly
dangerous nature. The competitors wear either a red belt(AKA), or a blue belt(Ao).
The bouts last for 3 minutes for men and 2 minutes for women. There are different weight
divisions in the individual kumite.
The Tournament match may be won by:
a) Gaining a lead of 8 points or more over your opponent during the match
b) Having the higher points total at the end of the match
c) By disqualification
d) By the decision of the Referee and Judge if scores are equal
A score is awarded when an effective punch,
kick, or strike(either as a single or a combination technique) is delivered to a
scoring area(head, face, neck or abdomen, chest and back but excluding the shoulders)
which has good form, correct attitude, vigorous application, proper timing, correct
distance and control. For tournaments the rules and point structure may change. Higher
points will be given for more difficult techniques, ie: Jodan kicks, combinations and
takedowns. Techniques applied by the contestants are extremely fast and the untrained
eye may occasionally miss a technique executed at very top speed. There are also a
number of forbidden techniques and behaivour which may mean the attack is invalidated
or may attract a penalty.