About Kumite and Tuite
By Mitani Kazuya (Translated by Joe Swift from the Seitokukai Japanese language web site)
I have already written on Kihon-gata and Kihon for Kumite. If Kumite and Tuite are the actual techniques, then kata is the Kihon. This is the theory of Karate practice as written in Itosu’s 10 lessons, i.e. to learn Kumite through Kata and to practice on the Makiwara. I also learned this way, but I was interested in how styles other than Karate did things as well. Especially the competitive format as developed by the JKA. As I watched this format, I believed that Karate could also be used in this arena, so I participated in the modern arena. I believed that 70-80% of Karate techniques could be used there. And, just as I thought the athletes from my organization showed the power of Karate. I also have interest in other styles fighting techniques.
Leaving this alone for a while, I also hear that Karate is based on kata, or that it is a Budo passed on through kata. I have believed this way of thinking was a bit odd over the years. The different kinds of Te probably had this tendency, but the Te of Matsumura had to have been Kumite and Tuite. The concept of “being in time” that Matsumura passed on shows this. Karate uses Kumite and Tuite as its central practice as well, according to Itosu’s 10 precepts. Hanashiro Chomo Sensei (Kinjo Sensei’s teacher) wrote his “Karate Kumite” in 1905, the year Karate was established, so Kumite existed right from the very beginning. Leaving Tuite alone for a while, this means that Kumite was a central theme in Karate. Hanashiro Sensei was one of the originators of Karate, and he learned Matsumura’s Te, meaning that the same was true of Matsumura’s Te. Also, as we can see from the 10 Precepts, Tuite was also used in Karate.
Karate was practiced mainly solo, but it was not Kata practice. Even if you practice kata every day you will not improve at Karate. This is also generally misunderstood.
Itosu Sensei distinguished between Kumite and Tuite, but I believe this distinction is comparatively recent. I believe that they were considered the same in the past. On the “Oshima Hikki,” Te is referred to as Kumiai-jutsu. The person who was responsible for bringing it to Ryukyu was Koshankin. Thinking on the existence of Kushanku Kata, then it must have been Koshankin who disseminated the Kumiai-jutsu on which this kata is based. This Kumiai-jutsu may have been dying out or lost by the time Matsumura came around (this is why Matsumura’s Te was created), but it was the first art transmitted. This Kumiai-jutsu, as we can see from the kata, must have considered Kumite and Tuite as the same thing. Looking at Motobu Sensei’s “Watashi no Karate-jutsu” and “Okinawa Kenpo Karate-jutsu” (he says Karate but it is really Shuri-te), he shows many photos within grappling range, showing that Kumite and Tuite were not clearly distinguished. (Comparing these photos with the Kumite photos in later books, we can see that Motobu Sensei was actually good at what he was showing). Kinjo Sensei is the same in this regard: when facing him and exchanging blows, you are invariably grappled and tied up. Thus, Kumite and Tuite are actually one in the same, but they were broken up for the purposes of analysis.