Sanbon Kumite Tutorial

Welcome to this video where we’re going to be covering a basic sanbon kumite tutorial.

Sanbon kumite (three step sparring). There are different variations of sanbon kumite.

Some Dojo practice three different attacks, jodan oi zuki, chudan oi zuki, then mae geri. We practice sanbon kumite with three oi zuki jodan, then oi zuki chudan three times, defenders blocking age uke and soto uke and countering with gyaku zuki after the third block.

Some shotokan karate Dojo practice five steps instead of three, gohon kumite.

Sanbon kumite is the first kumite that our dojo practice. Karateka will start with sanbon kumite and in this basic kumite they get to understand distance, timing, non telegraphed movement, breathing and so much more.

Rei (bow) to each other and come to yoi (ready), try not to be too close or too far away, there is a full explanation of distance in the video.

First person steps back with the right leg and blocks gedan barai, they say Jodan (upper level), defender now knows a stepping punch to the head is coming their way.

Defender tries not to move too early, the attacker is in control at this point and the defender must wait for the attacker to move.

The attacker does not just attack, the attacker should be aware, watching the defender closely, if they blink, attack! If they twitch their nose, attack!

When the attacker steps to punch, they should conceal the movement, not send a telegraph, the attacker should be working on non-telegraphed movement.

The defender is blocking, but should also try to ride the punch, just keeping the target out of hitting distance.

On the third block, once the block is complete, meaning the defender is in a good zenkutsu dachi, age uke or soto uke and in the hanmi position, with a full hikite, then the counter gyaku zuki should be swift, strong and instantly fired after the block, no pause (but the block must be complete first).

After the first three attacks and first block and counter, control switches to the defender who has just delivered a decisive gyaku zuki counter.

At this point, when both the attacker and defender come to yoi, the defender initiates the movement to yoi because they delivered the final strike (gyaku zuki).

Now the defender becomes the attacker and steps back with the right leg and blocks gedan barai, they say Jodan (upper level), defender now knows a stepping punch to the head is coming their way.

Then repeat the above using the attack chudan oi zuki and defend with soto ude uke.

Keep eye contact throughout this exercise, and try and apply the concept of ikken hissatsu (to finish with one blow).

No facial grimacing; hide your breathing and keep relaxed.

This basic shotokan karate kumite is brilliant at developing non-telegraphed movement, distancing, explosive techniques, timing, and the list goes on, overall a basic kumite that is extremely important to the shotokan karateka and their development in karatedo. Oss!

Here at the EIKA we practice three basic kyu grade kumite, they are sanbon kumite (three step sparring), Kihon Ippon kumite (basic one step sparring) and Jiyu ippon kumite (semi free sparring).

Each kumite has it’s own unique elements with all three of the basic kumite sets containing many essential elements that all karateka need to master.

The EIKA uses sanbon kumite for 9th, 8th and 7th kyu testing

The EIKA uses kihon ippon kumite for 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd kyu testing

The EIKA uses jiyu ippon kumite for 2nd kyu, 1st kyu and 1st Dan shodan testing.

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle