Kata literally translates to form, is the discipline where martial artists perform various offensive and defensive techniques by themselves or with a group of people. It is a performative discipline that does not involve two athletes fighting against each other. There are 91 different moves that are recognized by the World Karate Federation, and they involve punching and kicking for attacks or defense that were created to keep the opponent in mind. This is what makes it different from other performing arts.
Kumite is the other discipline of karate which involves two opponents sparring against each other. Competitors can use punches, kicks or takedowns to deliver blows to their opponents. It is a sport that puts a lot of importance on technique because you cannot deliberately injure your opponent. All techniques need to be kept under control so you can score points.
In all kata competitions, the two teams or individuals are recognized by wearing blue or red belts. In kata, the team or individual with the red belt goes first.
In kumite there is a referee and four other judges to determine the winner of the match. Men's competitions last three minutes and women's are two. The competition is won by having more points than your opponent by the end of the match, or having 8 points more than the opponent at any point of the match. Other rules can be broken down into scoring, penalties and required equipment.
While in a kumite competition, you can use different techniques that can give you one to three points. Here is a table that breaks down those techniques and the amount of points they are awarded.
|Yuko (A) - Straight Punch to the Body||1 Point|
|Yuko (B) - Straight Punch to the Face||1 Point|
|Wazari - Kick to the Body||2 Points|
|Ippon (A) Kick to the Head||3 Points|
|Ippon (B) - Punch to the opponent who has been taken down||3 Points|
In kata, a winner is determined by five judges who score the competitors based on technique, power, stance and athleticism. At the end of both performances, the judges hold up a red or blue flag to display their choice, and the competitor with at least 3 flags raised in their favor wins.
In Kumite competitions, athletes can be penalized for the following moves.
In Kata competitions, you receive penalties if your form is sloppy or if you lose balance. The key to receiving a good score in kata is to maintain great technique throughout the entire performance.
Kumite means grappling hands in karate. In a kumite match, competitors use punches, kicks and takedowns to score on their opponent. Normally, grappling would be done on the ground via wrestling, jiu jitsu or any form of mixed martial arts. However, kumite is a standing competition so the only things that are "grappling" are the hands of the two opponents.
Bowing is a sign of respect not only in karate, but all martial arts. Here is how to bow in karate.
While standing upright with your heels together, point your feet out to create a "V." Then keep your knees and elbows straight and relaxed, and keep your hands open, fingers together and place them by the seams of your pants. Bend 20 degrees at the waist and lean forward. The entire bow should be the length of you breathing in and out.
Kata is often overlooked in karate because it is seen as a performative discipline of the sport, however this is far from the truth. Practicing kata can have great benefits like the ones shown below.
The kiai is a chant that is shouted after delivering a strike in karate. It comes from the words "ki" which means life force and "ai" which means to harmonize. So it literally means to harmonize or concentrate on your life force. It is used in karate to create a sense of awareness in the strikes you are delivering.