Kumite is the practice form that most attracts not only the beginners, but all those that are interested in Karate. All want to begin practising Kumite as soon as possible, this is the reason why basic techniques (Kihon) are practised very diligently. I can still remember , in my own case, the feeling of joy that I experienced when I was given the chance of practising Kumite for the first time.
Some believe that once they begin practising Kumite, they have attained the highest levels of training in the art; their joy knows no limit, and this is a great mistake. Kumite is the search of Karate as a martial art till the very end, even further beyond, beyond combat itself. Then you will become one with your opponent.
The seniors said that when confronting an opponent you must be mentally prepared to die. In other words, you must be in a state where life or death are irrelevant. Once in this mental state there cannot exist any antagonism towards your opponent, there will be no winner, no loser, no feelings of fear nor hate. You will confront your opponent with a clear mind. Thinking is useless, you must simply act. Through practice this will become understood in a natural way. A relaxed and flexible mind together with a flexible and rapid body are the best requisites for a karateka. To obtain these, Kihon and Kata must be practised. Once you master these, you will be able to attain rhythm, the sense of opportunity, distance, breathing and the flow of vital energy.
The problem of the mind is a deep subject. The attainment of a higher state of mind, self-growth and self-purification are the ultimate attainable goals through practice. You must train mind and body, otherwise practising has no value.
It is easy to talk about openings, but really only very few know what an opening or opportunity truely is. No matter which type of kumite, when two opponents become accustomed to one another, they will learn to control their power and it will be very hard to find an opening, thus a final decisive blow becomes almost impossible.
Once you become one with the opponent and move naturally with him, without opposition, there is no reason to strike first. The meaning of Karate ni sente nashi (There is no first strike in Karate) cannot be understood if this state is not attained.