Karate employs several different training elements that combine to develop awareness, spirit, mental focus, and the physical attributes necessary for application of the fundamental strategy. These elements include kihon (basics), kata (forms), kumite (sparring), and kata bunkai (application of technique).
Kihon (basics) is the most important aspect of training because it forms the foundation upon which your karate will be built. Kihon training is the process of perfecting the stances, blocks, strikes, kicks and other techniques contained within kata.
Kata is the solo practice of a prearranged pattern of attack and defense incorporating principals of movement and kihon. Kata is most effective at developing the physical characteristics necessary for application of technique; balance, coordination, precision, haragei (moving from your center), and focus.
The kata of Shito-Ryu karate contain the entire curriculum of technique taught within the system. Because of this, kata is often referred to as the encyclopedia of technique. However, simply learning the pattern of a kata does not convey the knowledge of its application (bunkai) for self- defense. To truly “know” a kata, the practitioner must also study and understand these applications.
Kihon Kumite (prearranged sparring) is the practice of basic technique against a limited number of predetermined attacks. Distance control, evasive movement, and targeting skill are developed through this exercise.
Jiyu Kumite (free sparring) is the practice of controlled free style fighting. The objective of this exercise is to develop movement and reaction skill.
Kata Bunkai is the study and practice of the self-defense application of the techniques contained within kata against a variety of different attacks.
Within these training elements, the student learns to apply the skills they have developed through Kihon and Kata practice within the context of the fundamental strategy while engaging a partner. Kihon Kumite serves as a bridge to understanding these skills. Jiyu Kumite is primarily the practice of the skills, tactics, and technique associated with the fundamental strategy as they apply to karate as a combative sport. Kata Bunkai is primarily the practice of the skills, tactics, technique and targeting associated with the fundamental strategy as they apply to self-defense.