Jiyu Kumite (Semi-freestyle Sparring)

Aim of Exercise

Jiyu or semi-freestyle sparring introduces the student to a more realistic application of karate techniques and has less emphasis on basic (technically correct) techniques and long stances (often associated with Shotokan karate). Instead more emphasis is placed on the speed of technique, accuracy of attacks, good distancing and then pulling away (to relative safety) after a counter attack. As in all freestyle sparring, light contact with control is expected of each attack (for safety reason no contact to face is permitted).


This form of this exercise is very similar to kihon Ippon kumite using the same sequence of 5 individual attacks. The differences between this exercise and kihon Ippon kumite are intended to make jiyu kumite more realistic. For example, the attacker can delay and feign an attack (the defender must only react to the actual attack) light contact with control (but no contact to face) is expected as all realistic techniques must be able to contact the target the defenses are generally more realistic and are often not as complicated as some of the kihon Ippon kumite defenses techniques can be extended beyond the length allowed by basic front stance pulling back to a safe range once an attack is made is expected, as it is dangerous to stay close to an opponent in a real situation.

Points to Watch

Due to the freestyle stances and the emphasis on making (controlled) contact, students often lean forward when punching resulting in a weak (unrealistic) technique. Also because students are first introduced to basic kumite, they are not used to pulling away after a counter attack and often forget to do so. Conversely those that do pull away tend to put too much emphasis on pulling away, resulting in a very 'flicky' counter attack instead of a good strong counter attacking technique.