Karate as practiced today and for the past number of years has in my opinion erred in that a great many Instructors have separated Kumite from Kata, and have decided that the two are not the same. I disagree with this type of thinking and I will explain what I mean in the following dialogue. When I first started Karate in 1981 I knew little of anything, I enjoyed the Kata and Kumite, but the two were not taught as one, and for a time I trained that way.
As I gained more understanding of the Kata, I saw that the real Kumite was in the Kata, not in the Kumite. I saw that many people wanted to learn to fight only, and not master the moves, so Instructors separated the two and lost the realism that the Kata present. As this progressed we have now Sport Karate.
When Kumite is not Kata, then the progression of movement to movement is not fully learned. What I mean by this is that a person can learn how to Kumite, and can become quite good at it; however many times the Kumite is for a response the Karateka has already seen and therefore has trained for. When Kumite is learned with the mind set that anything may come my way then the Kata in the Kumite can be observed. This type of training allows for a calm mind to react to anything. If Kata is done without thinking Kumite, then the essence of the Kata and the spirit is lost. The Kata is Kumite and Kumite is Kata, they are interwoven. They can be learned separately, and Karateka can become very good at them separately. However together they will allow for a higher level of training. What I mean is that the Kata include all aspects of defense and offense, and include all types of target areas.
If one performs Kata only as they have been taught the movements then it is a pretty dance. If one performs the Kata researching the way and the reasons the movements are done and for what purpose the moves are for, then they have discovered the Kumite that is in the Kata. For me the two are very much the same thing and to separate the two will not over time benefit the person.
For me I believe one could practice nothing but Kata and research the moves and never do ”Kumite” separately and they would become very skilled at Kumite. This of course is not the Kumite of Tournaments, this is the Kumite of life or death, where the winner is the one that is still alive. I regard the applications of the Kata as the true reality of the training, in other words just knowing the movements will not create understanding, one has to be able to apply them to see the reality.