Having achieved your Yellow belt, you are not only introduced to kata, you are also permitted to commence your journey in kumite. In short, kumite is where we take the techniques and principles learned in the dojo and practice them against an opponent.
Kumite is not compulsory for Yellow belts, and those that choose to take part are often introduced gradually, working on pre-arranged techniques or free sparring at a slow pace. To ensure participant safety, approved safety equipment such as hand mitts, leg pads, Mouth guard, chest guard (girls) and groin guard (boys) must be worn. These can be purchased at your local dojo.
Kumite prepares us for self-defence by developing skills such as timing and distance. It also serves to familiarize us with the emotional ramifications of someone attacking us (in a safe environment). It has been said that kihon and kata without the practice of kumite is like learning to swim on dry land. Much like a swimming lesson, kumite allows us to get in the water and gain practical experience in a safe and controlled environment.
Kumite is very enjoyable. It can be likened to a game of physical chess, where two training partners aim to outsmart and out-strategize one another.
Kumite offers valuable feedback on your karate. Testing your attacking and defensive skills against an opponent gives you regular feedback as to which areas of your technique and strategy need more focus and attention.