Karate Kumite Reaction Drill

Here’s a quick kumite drill you can use to help your students develop their reaction speed.

You need 3 people for this one to work and your students should stand, so 2 fighters face each other, while the third person stands as shown below. We need a name for that guy, so let’s call him Bob… more about Bob in a moment.

kumite drill

The fighters stand outside of punching range, stationary but ready and focused, like a big cat about to pounce.  Bob’s role is to tap one of the fighters on their glove. He might choose to tap either fighter’s front or rear hand. That fighter must immediately slide forward and score their technique to the head or body, then immediately slide back to guard. In the example below Bob tapped the red fighter’s front hand.

front jab

Bob might then tap the blue fighter’s reverse hand, in which case he would slide in and make reverse punch.

reverse punch

Now Bob’s job is to keep the fighter’s guessing. He might tap the blue fighter 3 times before tapping the red fighter. Or he might tap the red fighter and then immediately tap the blue fighter on completion of the red fighter’s technique.

Bob can make them wait… tick… tick… tick, or make them work with a series of taps with no downtime. He can mess with the timing and can fake, so the red fighter thinks he’s about to get tapped and then tap the blue fighter instead.

An advanced spin on this is to tap both fighters at the same time and see who scores first. Be careful with this one, of course.

After one minute Bob switches out with one of the fighters and the exercise continues, this time with a new Bob.

This is a great kumite exercise for developing reaction and anticipation skills…

Happy Holidays…

– Jason

P.S. Thanks for being my subscriber and/or customer this year. I appreciate you.

P.P.S. Don’t you love my awesome stick figures with over-sized, disproportionate heads?


*** UPDATE : December 20, 2013 ****

Last night I shot a quick video of my junior class doing this drill so you can see it in action… Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “Karate Kumite Reaction Drill”

  1. About the oversized heads… I thought they just had XL head gear 😉
    Your drills are great. Thanks for your time and dedication. God bless.

    PS. How about one on teaching round kick. My beginners often revert back to the side kick chamber. Thanks.

    • You’re welcome… glad you like the content. =)

      As for the mawashi geri, there are so many different ways this kick is done depending on the style, it would be difficult to write a tutorial for that given the challenges I had with the last article on mae geri (front kick).

      Ironically, some of my students tend to have the opposite challenge you describe. They tend to have a hard time making side kick. Probably because I teach the round kick before the side kick, and that’s what’s familiar to them.

      Anyway, there are several drills in my 125 Dynamite Drills that describe ways to strengthen the hip flexors, and develop the round kick – way too much stuff to post here…



    • I’ve had luck with a simple direction that a side kick chamber has the sole of the foot facing the opponent and the roundhouse chamber has the shin facing the opponent. Also in TKD I teach that rear leg steps in front of front foot for roundhouse and rear leg steps behind front foot for side kick. Almost forces corrct chamber

  2. As ever Jason, fantastic info.

    We have spent all week doing our now infamous ’12 days of fitness/xmas’ at our club. All together now.. ‘on the 1st day of Christmas, my Sensei said to me…’ we usually try to make them rhyme, so ‘a squat thrust with a burpee’ for number one. good to throw in things like ’12 spinning hook kicks…’. lol. Its fab. And an amazing workout/class filler. If anyone wants the full one, leave your email on here. Its really good. Domo Arigatou Gozaimashita Sensei Jason. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • I just read about this and would love to get the full workout/class filler. Thanks in advance for any help with this. I am truly enjoying the information from this site! Thanks once again.


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