Thursday, 28 May 2020


I was recently asked about Jiyu Ippon Kumite in the 
国際空手道松濤館(International Karate Shotokan
 So, I thought I would address this today. Before briefly describing the three stages implemented, I need to say that there are many other forms of Jiyu Ippon. Nevertheless, stage one to three, are the standard forms as established by my seniors; in particular, my late mentor Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei. Interestingly enough, no one else seems to be following this methodology, which sadly shows that the past knowledge is being erased. This is because of the predominance of sports karate.



STAGE ONE: The first time one must formally demonstrate Jiyu Ippon Kumite is when one attempts the examination for Nikyu (2nd kyu brown belt).

The focus at this stage is that the karateka forms a kamae and natural jiyu-dachi; furthermore, that they apply the fundamentals developed in Gohon Kumite and Kihon Ippon Kumite. What matters the most is firstly: “…the seamless connection between the freestyle position, and formal/classical technique and stance—then immediate return to the freestyle position” (Ref. - T. Asai). And secondly, strong kihaku (fighting spirit), kiai in both attack and counterattack, and vigilant zanshin (Ref. - M. Tanaka, N Iida, Y. Osaka).

The attacks (all of which are announced by the designated attacker) are: JODAN (Jodan oi-zuki), CHUDAN (Chudan oi-zuki), MAE-GERI (Chudan mae-geri keage), YOKO-KEKOMI (Chudan yoko-geri kekomi), CHUDAN MAWASHI-GERI or JODAN MAWASHI-GERI and USHIRO-GERI (Chudan ushiro-geri kekomi). At this stage it is recommend to mostly counter with gyaku-zuki in order to develop deeper skill levels: especially pertaining to the control of maai.

STAGE TWO: With the aspects of stage-one still being intensely worked on, as mentioned about counterattacks, it is now possible to diversify. However, (as in Kihon Ippon Kumite, to pass from 2nd to 1st Kyu) one must use the most effective technique (from precisely where they are) after receiving—blocking/parrying/covering—the attack. At this stage it is now possible to also use simultaneous uke and counterattack, deai-waza, and so forth.

Irrespective of the technique, spontaneity is imperative at this point with ever growing kihaku and zanshin. Stage two is the blood and bones of Jiyu Ippon Kumite training, which sets the stage for the rest of one’s future karate practice.

STAGE THREE: After achieving the Ikkyu one immediately faces the direct challenge of challenging Shodan: ‘The Beginners Step’—the first-degree black belt. This is where Jiyu Ippon Kumite truly becomes the bridge to Jiyu Kumite.

At this stage, the attack is still an oi-waza, however, it is not announced and can be anything which is effective.

To pass "...the Shodan is not only to defend, it is to attack effectively. One cannot pass if they do not try to down the opponent" (Ref. - T. Asai); hence, their choice of attack and attacking maai must be exact. Likewise, the defense and counter must be effective. In the case of attack, full contact is permitted; however, the counterattack must be perfectly controlled. A key point, in defense, is to really watch the opponent and to "not run away" (Ref. - T. Asai, M. Tanaka). One must be both decisive and courageous in this form of Jiyu Ippon Kumite. It is a real challenge!

A few other points... "The attacker may employ kenseiwaza (feints) before they attack; furthermore, if the defenders counterattack fails, the attacker is permitted to attack again" (Ref. - M. Nakayama).

Overall, this is ‘old school form of Jiyu Ippon Kumite’. 国際空手道松濤(International Karate Shotokan follows this process of as it logically builds from Gohon and Kihon Ippon Kumite; then, bridges to Jiyu Kumite and Goshin Jutsu/Self-Defense. Otherwise, what is the point?  I would like to conclude by saying that the second and third forms of Jiyu Ippon Kumite are essential training—irrespective of grade and tenure in Karate. Of course, this also leads on to Oyo Kumite, but that is perhaps a topic for another day.
© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2020).

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