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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Gohon Kumite is a pre-arranged attack and counter exercise for beginners. It is designed to teach people how to deal with the pressure of being attacked, and highlights the way in which your blocks can be used for defence. Also, it is a basic introduction into the principles and foundations of Shotokan Karate. It teaches you how to work in partners, but most importantly, how to show respect to your partner through the etiquette of the activity. This is a very basic exchange, first with the attacker attacking jodan (head level) with an oi-tsuki, then at chudan (middle-level). To the former you block age-uke (rising block) to the latter you block soto-uke (outside-block). For each set of attacks, you block five of them, then you counter with a reverse punch (gyaku-tsuki) to their middle level. Below is a description of how this should be practiced.
  1. Start by facing your partner.
  2. You then step apart (about one step backward), maintaining eye contact and bow to your partner (by brining your feet together and brining your hands to your side. Maintain eye contact throughout. We step apart so that we don't bump heads!)
  3. You then step back towards your partner, so you are close enough to punch them without moving your feet, pulling yoi.
  4. From there, your partner will step back with his right leg and call Jodan (He steps back into zenkutsu-dachi, calling jodan from gedan barai)
  5. As stepping punch moves forward towards your face, step backward with your right leg, blocking age-uke with your left arm (see basic techniques) So you should stop his punch from hitting your face.
  6. He then attacks again, blocking with your right arm. Do this for another three attacks.
  7. Upon blocking his fifth attack, your left leg should be in front. Punch his middle level with a reverse punch, projecting a loud and powerful kiai.
  8. From here, since you are the winner (you attacked him to the stomach), you - from having your left leg in front zenkutsu-dachi - step forward, bringing your feet to a natural position, pulling yoi. He is the loser so he must step backward. Keeping the equal distance at all times.
  9. Here, step back with your right leg into zenkutsu-dachi and call Jodan.
  10.  From here step forward with a stepping punch to his face, and he should simultaneously block with the rising block.
  11.  Do this a further four times.
  12. Upon punching your final punch, let out a loud and powerful kiai. This will help tense your abdominal muscles, so when he hits you can take the impact better.
  13. After you have been punched, since you are the loser, step backward, pulling yoi. Your partner will step forward pulling yoi.

You then act out this same sequence for soto-uke and the chudan level attack. You simply change the attack and the block.

Through practicing this set of kumite, you learn so much. At the beginning, attacks will be light, so as a beginner, if your block is unsuccessful, you wont get hurt too much. However, as you become more advanced, particularly, as you approach your time of grading, you may be instructed to attack with the intent of hitting your partner. This way, when you block your partner’s punch, you know that if you’re hit, you’ll be hurt. This is the essence, and indeed attitude of kumite.

All you need to remember is to remain relaxed, concentrate on the attack, and make sure your block is nice and strong, for if it is weak, you will end up with a bloody nose. And on a white karate gi, not even Daz will get it out.