Advanced Kumite

       "Free-sparring" is not part of the yakusoku set of kumite. Simply put, free sparring is practice fighting. Participants begin in freestyle position and fight each other using full speed attacks and defenses. Only the lightest contact is permitted, therefore a high level of skill is necessary. That being said, free-sparring is generally reserved for advanced belts only. Free-sparring provides an excellent opportunity to test one's skills against another individual with complete freedom of movement. Through jiyu-kumite practice, one prepares for shiai-kumite.
       "Competition sparring" is the kumite performed at tournaments. It is like a sport, having rules and regulations, and of course, a winner and a loser. Technically, all of the kumite sets, even those of beginners, can be performed at a tournament. However, shiai-kumite is a term usually reserved for the fighting matches. In JKA Shotokan karate, shiai-kumite is either shobu-ippon-kumite or sanbon-shobu-kumite. Shobu-ippon-kumite is the same as jiyu-kumite with one small difference; the fighting is done for points whereby one competitor will be declared the victor. Shobu-ippon means "one-point match." The winner is the person who scores an ippon (one point) with a perfect technique. Any technique deemed less than perfect will score a waza-ari, or half-point. Two waza-ari equals ippon and the match is won. Ippon techniques are indeed rare and are usually only awarded when:

       1) Knocking the opponent off balance and then executing an effective attack or counter-attack
       2) Launching a consecutive series of attacks that all reach their target
       3) The opponent makes no attempt at a defense
       4) Evading an opponent's attack while delivering an effective counter-attack

       Sanbon-shobu-kumite is exactly the same as shobu-ippon except that it refers to a three point match. However, sanbon-shobu refers to "best 2 out of 3" or simply the majority of points (i.e. 2); therefore the competitor who scores two full points first is declared the winner. Sanbon-shobu is usually reserved for the final match of JKA-style competitions. Every two or three years, some of the greatest JKA karate experts in the world gather at the Gichin Funakoshi Cup, also known as the World Shoto Cup. A fantastic display of martial arts skill, karateka come from all over the world to compete in kata, kumite, and team events. It is the Olympics of JKA karate.
       "Applications sparring" can be practiced yakusoku style or freestyle. It consists of using movements of the kata to defend and counter-attack. Each movement in a kata has a self-defense meaning or application, called bunkai or oyo. More specifically, bunkai means to "analyze" the movements to find combat ideas. Oyo means to "apply" those ideas using different variations. Applications range from simple punching and striking counter-attacks to more complex joint locks, throws, and even chokes. Each movement of a kata may have several different meanings or applications. Oyo-kumite is very difficult and can only be practiced by fairly advanced students possessing a more profound understanding of kata.