"Basic five-step sparring" is typically practiced by beginners. The attacker steps forward with jodan-oi-zuki five times in succession. The defender must step backwards five times using the appropriate block, usually jodan-age-uke, followed by a counter-attack, usually chudan-gyaku-zuki. The defender then takes on the role of attacker, stepping forward five times with jodan-oi-zuki. The sequence is then repeated with chudan-oi-zuki as the attack and chudan-soto-uke as the defense. All stances, attacks, and blocks are performed in basic style, i.e. no free-style techniques are allowed. Five-step sparring is very useful in developing proper punching and blocking technique. However, its main purpose is to teach the karateka how to maintain proper distance from the opponent, while moving forwards and backwards.
"Basic three-step sparring" is almost exactly the same as five-step sparring except that the number of steps has been reduced to three. Three-step sparring takes up less time and space than five-step and is generally considered as more efficient. It still teaches basic punching and blocking technique, and it trains the student to maintain proper distance while moving.