Kihon-ippon kumite means ‘basic one-step sparring’ and it is at this level that you really have to start switching the brain on as there are a lot of set defenses to learn at this stage of your training. Kihon-ippon kumite is generally introduced at the intermediate level, meaning from 6th through 4th kyu and continuing at Brown belt level (3rd kyu and above).
The concept of basic one-step sparring is that one attack is countered effectively and decisively by one defense followed by a finishing blow or strike.
With basic one-step sparring there are several different defenses that the practitioner should memorize at different levels. The different kinds of attack are front punch to the head, front punch to the body, front kick, side thrust kick and roundhouse kick. For each kind of attack there are several set defenses although the testing requirements and knowledge content increase with each step towards the first brown belt (3rd Kyu).
There are 6 set defenses for each of the head punch, body punch and front kick attacks and 3 set defenses for each of the sidekick and roundhouse kick attacks making a total of 24 set defenses to memorize. Generally the practitioner is only required to demonstrate 8 different defenses from either left and/or right sides and for brown belt should be ready to demonstrate a series of defenses at random call by the examiner from both left and right sides.
As there are so many set defenses to practise it is impractical to explain each one in detail so I highly recommend that students purchase the SKIF-USA Grading Syllabus along with Master Hirokazu Kanazawa’s book “Karate Fighting Techniques – The Complete Kumite”. Another great resource is the “Mastering Karate” DVD set, also by Master Kanazawa, specifically the “Kumite” DVD. My own new DVD set “Shotokan Karate—The Complete Curriculum” also covers all of the necessary kumite drills.