The Japanese word 'kihon' is translated as 'basic' and so naturally kihon training is the most basic form of karate training. Kihon consists of repeating individual techniques [or short sequences of techniques] many times, on both the left and right sides.
These individual techniques are the building blocks on which the rest of karate is built and therefore if your kihon is good, the rest of your karate will be good.
The main aims of kihon training are: to learn individual techniques [blocks, kicks, punches, strikes, sweeps and throws]. Exercise the muscles and build the strength required to do these techniques properly. Develop the suppleness required to do these techniques and to improve each technique. Lastly to hone your karate techniques by understanding and perfecting all the details [breathing, muscle tension, body mechanics, etc.] which contribute to making the techniques fast, accurate and powerful.
The translation of this Japanese word is 'patterns'. A kata consists of a pre-defined sequence of karate defenses and attacks against a number of imaginary opponents. Within the Shukokai system of karate, there are more than 30 different kata’s, which are learnt throughout your journey as a karate student.
Only 10 of the katas are required to be learnt before you reach black belt [Dan] and the remaining kata’s are learnt after black belt as you progress through the different levels of black belt grades.
A well-performed kata is more than a physical exercise aimed at improving fitness, strength, speed. In karate, kata plays a much more important role, including the awareness of opponents and the application of basic techniques.
The translation of the Japanese word 'kumite' is 'sparring' and so naturally, kumite training is sparring (or fighting). Karate sparring can come in many forms but they all have one important thing in common: all sparring is carried out against real opponents. Sparring is the main training method in which techniques can be used against real opponents. However, the use of powerful karate techniques against real opponents introduces many more important aspects of karate, which are not immediately obvious from kihon and kata training.
At Sport Karate East the most important of these is the necessity for control. Karate techniques are designed to be powerful and much of our karate training is used to develop this power. However, using these kinds of techniques to their full potential against a partner in a lesson is not appropriate, and so in order to remain free from injury, a large amount of accuracy and control is required.
However, control does not imply a reduction in speed or power, but means that each attack does not make full contact with the target. This is achieved by correct positioning, so that the attack either stops slightly short of the target or makes only light contact with the target. In this way, sparring can be carried out safely without injury and without any loss of karate’s key objectives, power, speed and accuracy. Some of the aspects highlighted by kumite training include awareness of your opponents' actions, defending yourself and distancing yourself from your opponents, therefore, kumite training introduces a more realistic aspect of fighting.