We spent a bit of extra time on Kumite this time, which I really enjoyed. It is probably the best fat burning work that we do. More than that, it is the only time when you have any freedom at all during our practices to experiment and learn from instant live feedback of sorts. After going through all the yakusoku kumite steps that very last step is free sparring. As a recap, our sparring steps go like this
- 3-bon kumite (yakusoku kumite) - jodan, chudan, mae-geri
You throw three strikes in a row, announcing each strike before you throw it and stepping forward with each strike and your partner practices blocking (or receiving if you will) the strikes. The strikes are set, the timing and rhythm and line of movement is set, and you promise to do it like your partner expects so she can practice.
- 1-pon kumite (yakusoku kumite) - jodan, chudan, mae-geri (and sometimes mawashi-geri)
Like 3-bon kumite, the strikes are set and you announce them before you throw them. Your partner practices blocking. This time it is just one strike each and the receiver can practice blocking/avoiding/receiving anyway they want.
- 1-pon jiyu kumite (yakusoku kumite) - Like the first two steps, you announce your strike (jodan, chudan, mae-geri, mawashi-geri, sokuto) and your partner receives. There is one strike per move. The difference from regular 1-pon kumite is that you take three steps toward your partner before you throw the strike and they take three steps back.
- Kaeshi waza (partial yakusoku kumite) - With this you are now moving quickly and freely and are up on the balls of your feet. You throw three strikes in combination but only announce the first strike. It is quick, like free sparring, but your partner knows where the first strike is coming to and knows that there will be three in succession. This is the last step before free sparring.
- Jiyu kumite (free sparring) - This is the last step. You don't announce the strikes. Short bouts where you try to score on your partner with any move you can.
As you can see, the steps take you from slow structured sparring gradually to fast and free sparring.
We have two new members in our group which is a great thing. Our groups is so small that people quickly learn the other's habits and movements. Our two new members are both black belts. The younger brother is in 6th grade and the older brother is in 9th grade. The older brother is almost as tall as I am and looks like he is probably heavier and stronger than I am. At least that is how he looks in his Karate gi. There are not many full grown Japanese men who are as big as I am as I am a bit taller than the average Japanese man so it is stimulating to have another member in our group who is close to my size. There are two other members who are tall enough to be good sparring partners with me but both are much smaller in body size.
The two new kids seem very good. They are both fast and accurate, especially the older brother. None of the other members come at me very fast and so I am always practicing at half-speed. I find that even with the first few steps of kumite that I sometimes miss their throws. If you'll remember, the first steps are all Yakusoku Kumite, meaning they announce what throw they are going to do. Even when I know what's coming, I find that I am too slow to block it. This is good. This very good. It will force me to work harder to get faster.