This is the second post in a series covering Shotokan’s complete system of kumite practice and it focuses on kihon ippon kumite techniques against jodan oi tsuki, chudan oi tsuki, chudan mae geri, yoko kekomi geri and mawashi geri attacks.
If you haven’t already, please check out the first post of the series which cover gohon kumite and sanbon kumite practice.
Table of Contents
- What Is Kihon Ippon Kumite?
- The Purpose of Kihon Ippon Kumite Practice
- Kihon Ippon Kumite Tips
- Defense Against Jodan Oi Tsuki Attacks
- Defense Against Chudan Oi Tsuki Attacks
- Defense Against Chudan Mae Geri Attacks
- Defense Against Yoko Kekomi Geri Attacks
- Defense Against Jodan Mawashi Geri Attacks
What Is Kihon Ippon Kumite?
Kihon means “basic”. Ippon means “one” and kumite means “the meeting of hands”. So, kihon ippon kumite means “basic one-step sparring”.
Kihon ippon kumite drills under the Shotokan curriculum are partner drills where one partner launches attacks (jodan oi tsuki, chudan oi tsuki, chudan mae geri, yoko kekomi geri and mawashi geri) and the other partner defends and counter-attacks.
The attacker can only launch one attack at a time and the defender must defend and counter-attack. After that they both need to restart.
The Purpose of Kihon Ippon Kumite Practice
Kihon ippon kumite drills are a part of Shotokan’s kumite training program to help you ultimately get ready for freestyle sparring.
Kihon ippon kumite drills aim to help you:
- Perform basic attack and defense techniques with power, speed and target accuracy while on the move. This is a major step forward from doing basic techniques from stationary positions
- Work on your stances, taisabai (evading technique), distance, and timing
- Develop your martial attitude, zanshin, correct posture, as well as good partner drill etiquette.
While nobody fights like in kihon ippon kumite exercises, you can actually learn a lot of things if you perform these drills correctly and understand their purposes.
For example, a simple age uke and gyaku tsuki combination to deal with a jodan oi tsuki can certainly be used in freestyle sparring.
If you’ve practiced this drill repeatedly and correctly and are able to perform it with speed and power, this can be used in freestyle sparring situations by simply adopting a free sparring stance that you feel comfortable with.
Kihon Ippon Kumite Tips
Right attitude and posture
Have the right martial attitude when performing these drills.
Treat each exercise as a battle of life and death.
Stay relaxed but be present and focused.
Keep your back and neck straight and keep your eyes on your opponent.
Fast and powerful attacks but keep control
The attacker must perform all attacks correctly with power, speed, and target accuracy so that their attacks pose a real threat to the defender and force the defender to properly block and counter-attack.
The attacker should aim to deliver “ikken hissatsu” or a killing blow with every attack.
However, control must always be exercised so that, in case the defender fails to block an attack properly or misses an attack altogether, only light contact occurs and unnecessary injury is avoided.
Work on your distance
When working with partners of different sizes, adjust your distance accordingly so that your attacks are always effective. Over time, you will develop a sense of what an appropriate distance would be in freestyle sparring situations whoever your opponent may be.
Watch out for signs of imminent attacks
The defender should watch out for signs of an imminent attack, for example, a blink of an eye, a dropping of the front guard, a shrug of a shoulder, a shuffle of the front foot, or a pulling back of the chamber hand.
Receiving is more important than attacking
The defender must aim to block all attacks effectively. Blocking or receiving (uke) techniques in karate are much more important than attacking techniques. If you can’t block timely and effectively, in a real fight, you’ll be finished quickly and there can be no counter-attack.
A block doesn’t always have to be a hard or full contact block and can be a bodyshifting technique that render an attack useless.
Work on your timing
The best time to block is after the attacker has fully committed to the attack and it is impossible for him or her to change the direction of the attack. But don’t wait until it’s too late to defend yourself.
Keep experimenting with your timing in kihon ippon kumite exercises to find out the “perfect” timing for yourself that you can apply in free sparring (jyu kumite) later on.
Work on your kiai. A loud spirited kiai that comes from your abdomen tells a lot about you as a fighter and a martial artist.
Practice both sides
For the purpose of grading, you may not be required to perform both left and right sides at your dojo. However, it is beneficial to practice both sides to develop ambidexterity and a balanced body.
Supplement with solo practice
While kihon ippon kumite drills are partnered exercises, for most people, there isn’t enough time at the dojo to work with a partner. Therefore, you should supplement it with a lot of solo practice at home.
By repeating these exercises thousands of times, you will eventually be able to achieve “unconscious competence” where you are capable of dealing with an attack effectively and instantaneously without thinking.
If you haven’t already, please also check out the tips for gohon kumite and sanbon kumite exercises.
Defense Against Jodan Oi Tsuki Attacks
In all kihon ippon kumite techniques, the attacker starts in the ready stance and then step back into a zenkutsu dachi stance with one hand in gedan barai position before launching an attack. The defender remains in the ready stance until the attacker makes his or her move.
Depending upon the dojo you train in but you will usually need to practice both the left and right sides for all techniques.
Below are the six kihon ippon kumite drills to defend against jodan oi tsuki attacks.
Jodan Number 1: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Age uke and counter-attack with Chudan gyaku tsuki.
Jodan Number 2: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Hidari tate shuto uke (in kiba dachi) and counter-attack with Shuto uchi (in zenkutsu dachi).
Jodan Number 3: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Migi tate shuto uke and counter-attack with Yoko keage and Yoko empi.
Jodan Number 4: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Jodan juji uke (crossed wrist block) and counter-attack with Mawashi geri and Ushiro empi.
Jodan Number 5: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Age uke and counter-attack with Mae geri and Age empi.
Jodan Number 6: Attack with Jodan oi tsuki. Defend with Hirate barai and counter-attack with Haito uchi.
Defense Against Chudan Oi Tsuki Attacks
Below are six kihon ippon kumite drills to defend against chudan oi tsuki attacks.
Chudan Number 1: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Hidari soto ude uke and counter attack with Chudan gyaku tsuki.
Chudan Number 2: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Migi soto ude uke and counter-attack with Yoko empi.
Chudan Number 3: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Hidari uchi ude uke and counter attack with Kizami tsuki and Gyaku tsuki.
Chudan Number 4: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Hidari shuto uke and counter attack with Kizami tsuki and Nukite.
Chudan Number 5: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Chudan hiji uke and counter attack with Ushiro mawashi empi uchi.
Chudan Number 6: Attack with Chudan oi tsuki. Defend with Mawashi uke and counter attack with Tate teisho uchi.
Defense Against Chudan Mae Geri Attacks
Below are five kihon ippon kumite drills to defend against chudan mae geri attacks.
Mae geri Number 1: Attack with Chudan mae geri. Defend with Gedan barai and counter-attack with Chudan gyaku tsuki.
Mae geri Number 2: Attack with Chudan mae geri. Defend with Gyaku gedan barai and counter-attack with Kizami tsuki and Gyaku tsuki.
Mae geri Number 3: Attack with Chudan mae geri. Defend with Gedan juji uke and counter-attack with Jodan shuto juji uchi.
Mae geri Number 4: Attack with Chudan Mae geri. Defend with Gedan barai and counter-attack with Tate shuto uke and Mae empi.
Mae geri Number 5: Attack with Chudan Mae geri. Defend with Sukui uke and counter-attack with Gyaku tsuki.
Defense Against Yoko Kekomi Geri Attacks
Below are three kihon ippon kumite drills for yoko kekomi geri attacks.
Yoko geri Number 1: Attack with Yoko kekomi. Defend with Hidari soto ude uke and counter-attack with Gyaku tsuki.
Yoko geri Number 2: Attack with Yoko kekomi. Defend with Hidari chudan heiwan uke and counter-attack with Migi jodan haito uchi.
Yoko geri Number 3: Attack with Yoko kekomi. Defend with Migi ushiro gedan barai and counter-attack with Chudan yoko kekomi and Yoko empi.
Defense Against Jodan Mawashi Geri Attacks
Below are three kihon ippon kumite drills against jodan mawashi geri attacks.
Mawashi geri Number 1. Attack with Jodan mawashi geri. Defend with Haiwan uchi ude uke and counter-attack with Chudan gyaku tsuki.
Mawashi geri Number 2. Attack with Jodan mawashi geri. Defend with Tate heiko shuto uke and counter-attack with Soeto yoko empi.
Mawashi geri Number 3: Attack with Jodan mawashi geri. Defend with Migi jodan soto ude uke and counter-attack with Kizami geri and Gyaku tsuki.
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