Kumi literally means "with a partner". So:

  • Empty handed partner practice is called Kumite ('te' means hand)
  • Partner practice using bo (long staff) is called Kumibo.
  • Partner practice using jo (short staff) is called Kumijo.
  • Partner practice using bokken or bokuto (wooden sword) is called Kumitachi.

These are initially practiced in a controlled environment as 1, 3 or 5-step practice (called 'kihon kumite', 'kihon kumibo'). Practice is initially limited to 'no contact'. As the practitioner becomes more proficient at self control, limited contact is permitted. Once a student reaches a certain level of mastery of the Art, full control and free style (jiyu kumite or kumibo) partner practice is permitted. This last stage is usually not until the highest ranks of black belt.