Generally, Jiyu-ippon kumite is introduced into the training at 3rd Kyu (brown belt).
Jiyu-ippon kumite requires fast reactions and the ability to adapt to changing situations, the attacker is allowed to move freely, dummy and feign before the attacks. Unlike Kihon-ippon kumite (basic one-step sparring), where the attacker moves from a static position.
Attacker and defender start from jiyu-dachi (freestyle stance), with the pre arranged jiyu-ippon kumite, both karateka normally have the left leg in front to begin with.
Jiyu Ippon video at the bottom of this page
Jiyu-ippon kumite is more natural and flowing, using tai sabaki (body movement) to avoid the attacks, rather than meeting them head on.
Someone skilled in the art of tai sabaki is very difficult to fight, they seem to avoid a blow at the very last second, then immediately deliver their own devastating strikes.
To start with, the attacks are pre-determined, with the attacker giving the defender plenty of time to prepare. When the attacker knows the defender is ready, the attacker can feign an attack to create an opening or look for a weakness before launching an attack.
Jiyu-ippon kumite is the first chance the karateka gets to deal with unrehearsed situations, for instance, the attacker may have feigned an attack, the defender then starts to react to the attack that isn’t coming, the attacker then, sensing a loss of concentration, immediately launches an attack while the defender is off balance and confused.
To start with, the attacks are set, but more advanced karateka, will attack freely with unannounced attacks, this is an essential part of shotokan kumite.
The attacker and defender should always be trying to apply the concept of ‘Ikken Hisatsu‘ (to finish with one blow or to kill with one blow).
Both karateka should have zanshin (remaining mind) which is a continued state of awareness and kime (total focus of mind, body and spirit) on every attack and counter.
Within Shotokan karate, there are usually 6 attacks, but this does sometimes vary, they are ~
1. Oi zuki jodan (stepping punch to the head).
2. Oi zuki chudan (stepping punch to the body).
3. Maegeri chudan (front kick to the body)
4. Yoko geri kekomi chudan (side thrust kick to the body)
5. Mawashi geri Chudan or Jodan (round house kick to the body or head).
6. Ushiro geri (back kick)
Jiyu Ippon Video