The defender should elude the oncoming attack, remaining at a close enough distance to simultaneously counter. This allows for maximum use of the attacker's incoming momentum, allowing the defender to use this energy against him.
Pointers on Kumite
Timing and focus are two essential elements which need to be perfected to ensure effective kumite. The purpose of kumite is to hit your opponent without getting hit. The karateka with excellent timing renders an opponent helpless, by countering and neutralizing the opponent's attack. But in order for these counter techniques to work, the following principles must be followed:
- Instead of backing away from an attack, move in, close the distance so as to take away kime and strike.
- Utilize zen no zen when countering; that is, don't wait for the attack to finalize. Move in and counter as soon as your opponent moves an inch.
- An effective counter is oi zuki to the chin, while keeping the back hand up to deflect/defend, when countering most techniques. Reverse punch is effective, but lead hand has a better chance of hitting.
Ippon kumite is one of the biggest enemies of the true karate ka. It was designed to take the Do out of karate, making it a simple sport. As Osensei Kim states, "Karate is a martial art developed out of weaponless fighting techniques, and it must remain so... Karate must be studied s a martial art with due stress on the practice of kumite as a life-or-death match but not for tournament purposes." Ippon kumite presumes that the attacker will not continue to move, forming bad habits in fighting styles, and over emphasizing the reverse punch. Those who become accustomed to sparring in the ippon kumite style, usually learn the hard way that sport karate is not very effective; neither is dead kumite. Ippon (dead) kumite kills the clash aspect in the sparring match - it is in this clash where most battles are usually won or lost. In Shorinji Ryu, we live for the clash.
Although in a fight we strive to neutralize an opponent with one technique, there's an advantage in using combinations to make sure the opponent is going down. Fighters who practice ippon kumite regularly are usually caught in the back of the head by realistic fighters. The basis for ippon kumite is, as experienced by me, is Get the point and run. Oh, and on the way give your back to your opponent. Japanese stylists are famous for this. When I first studied Shorinji Ryu, it seemed like we lived and died by the gyako zuki. It wasn't until later on that I started using the lead hand, and my kumite became more effective.
This is an extremely powerful and useful weapon in a karate ka's arsenal. But for some reason, a lot of you hold up the front hand and use it only for deflecting. This is a waste; the lead hand, which is closest to the opponent, should be used more extensively as the first line of defense. Nowhere is it written that a technique has to be blocked with uke, and not tsuki/uchi.
My students learn to develop the lead hand jab (hook) as an effective technique to counter an attack. The back hand should be saved for when it is time to end the fight. There are, however, fighters out there who can neutralize their opponents with the lead hand. Because of the rigidity of many styles out there, the lead hand punch is a rarity, but it is used in those styles that allow for more creativity and individuality. If you feel like you have to use the reverse punch, and it's your bread and butter technique, fine, but don't become a clone and use it because everyone else does.