The Competition rules are developed to ensure clear decisions given by the Judges and Referees which can easily be understood by everyone. All Coaches, Athletes Referees and Officials are subject to Shotokan Karate-Do discipline and respect.

Competition Area

1. The competition area will be a matted square, with sides of eight meters (measured from the outside) with an additional one metre on all sides as a safety area. There will be a clear safety area of two meters on each side. Where an elevated competition area is used, the safety area should be of an additional one (1) metre on each side.

2. Two mats are inverted with the red side turned up in one metre distance from the mat centre to form a boundary between the Competitors. When starting or resuming combat the Competitors will be standing front and centre on the mat facing each other.
3. Each Judge will be seated at the corners on the mat in the safety area. The Referee may move around the entire tatami, including the safety area where the Judges are seated. Each Judge will be equipped with a red and a blue flag.
4. The Match Supervisor will be seated just outside the safety area, behind, and to the left or right of the Referee. He/she will be equipped with a red flag or sign, and a whistle.
5. The score-supervisor will be seated at the official score table, between the scorekeeper and the timekeeper.
6. Coaches will be seated outside the safety area, on their respective sides at the side of the tatami towards the official table. Where the tatami area is elevated, the Coaches will be placed outside the elevated area.
7. The one metre border must be in a different colour from the rest of the matted area.

Official Dress
  • Referees

Referees and Judges must wear the official uniform designated by the Referee Commission. This uniform must be worn at all tournaments, briefings, and courses.
The official uniform will be as follows:

  1. A single-breasted navy-blue blazer (colour code 19-4023 TPX).
  2. A white shirt with short sleeves.
  3. An official tie, worn without tiepin. A black whistle.
  4. A discreet white cord for the whistle.
  5. Plain light-grey trousers without turn-ups.
  6. Plain dark blue or black socks and black slip-on shoes for use on the match area.
  7. Referees and Judges may wear a plain wedding band.
  8. Female Referees and Judges may wear a hair-clip and religiously mandated head-wear.

  • Competitors
  1. Competitors must white plain, ironed clean Karate-gis.
  2. The National emblem or flag of the country will be worn on the left breast or jacked of the jacket and may not exceed an overall size of 12cm by 8cm.
  3. The jacket, when tightened around the waist with the belt, must be of a minimum length that covers the hips, but must not be more than three-quarters thigh length.
  4. Female Competitors may wear a plain white T-shirt beneath the Karate jacket.
  5. Jacket ties must be tied. Jackets without ties may not be used.
  6. The maximum length of the jacket sleeves must be no longer than the bend of the wrist and no shorter than halfway down the forearm. Jacket sleeves may not be rolled up. The jacket ties holding the jacket in place must be tied at the beginning of the bout. If they are torn off during the match, the Competitor is not required to change the jacket.
  7. The trousers must be long enough to cover at least two thirds of the shin and must not reach below the anklebone. Trouser legs may not be rolled up.
  8. Competitors must keep their hair clean and cut to a length that does not obstruct smooth bout conduct.
  9. Hachimaki (headband) will not be allowed. Should the Referee consider any Competitor’s hair too long and/or unclean, he/she may disbar the Competitor from the bout. Hair slides are prohibited, as are metal hairgrips. Ribbons, beads and other decorations are prohibited. One or two discreet rubber bands on a single pony tail is permitted.
  10. Competitors may use religiously mandated head-wear: A black plain fabric head scarf covering the hair, but not the throat area.
  11. Competitors must have short fingernails and must not wear metallic or other objects, which might injure their opponents. The use of metallic teeth braces must be approved by the Referee and the Tournament Doctor. The Competitor accepts full responsibility for any injury.
  12. Coaches
  13. Coaches shall at all times during the tournament, wear the official tracksuit of their National Federation and display their official identification.
  14. Female Coaches may wear religiously mandated head-wear for Referees and Judges.

Protective Equipment

The following protective equipments are compulsory:

  1. Mitts, one Competitor wearing red and the other wearing blue.
  2. Gum shield.
  3. Body protector for all athletes and chest protector for female athletes.
  4. Shin pads red and blue.
  5. Foot protectors red and blue.
  6. Glasses are forbidden. Soft contact lenses can be worn at the Competitor’s own risk.
  7. The wearing of unauthorized apparel, clothing or equipment is forbidden.
  8. It is the duty of the Match Supervisor to ensure before each match or bout that the Competitors are wearing the approved equipment.
  9. The use of bandages, padding, or supports because of injury must be approved by the Referee on the advice of the Tournament Doctor.

Competition Organisation

Karate Competitions are categorized as follows:-

  1. Individual Kumite Competitions
  2. Individual Kata Competitions
  3. Team Kata Competitions
  4. Team Kumite Competitions
  • Competition are separated with male and female categories in individual and team competitions.
  • Individual competitions are separated to weight divisions.
  • In team kumite matches, coach must submit the list of the athletes to the Tatami Chief and the turn cannot be changed afterwards, in case of changing team will have Shikkaku.

  • The Referee Panel
    1. One Match Supervisior (KANSA).
    2. One Referee (SHUSHIN)
    3. Four Judges (FUKUSHIN)
  • The Referee, Judges and Match Supervisor (KANSA) of a Kumite bout must not have the nationality or be from the same National Federation of either of the participants.
  • In addition, for facilitating the operation of bouts/matches, 2 Tatami Managers, 1 Tatami Manager Assistant, 1 Score Supervisor and 1 Score Keeper shall be appointed.
  • At the start of a Kumite match, the Referee stands on the outside edge of the match area. On the Referee’s left stand Judges numbers 1 and 2, and on the right stands Judges numbers 3 and 4.
  • In team matches, provided that the entire panel holds the required qualification, the positions of Referee and Judges may be rotated between each bout.
  • Duration of the Bouts
    • Senior Male and Female                             3 Minutes
    • Under 21 Years Male and Female               3 Minutes
    • Cadet and Juniors                                        2 Minutes
    • Under 13 Years                                            1.5 Minutes
  • The timing of the bout starts when the Referee gives the signal to start, and stops each time the Referee calls “YAME”.
  • The timekeeper shall give signals by a clearly audible bell, or buzzer, indicating “15 seconds to go” and “time up”. The “time up” signal marks the end of the bout.
  • Competitors are entitled to a rest period between bouts, equal to the standard duration time of the bout. The exception is in the case of change of equipment colour, where this time is extended to five minutes,


Scores are as follows:

  1. Scores are as follows:
    a) IPPON Three points
    b) WAZA-ARI Two points
    c) YUKO One point

  2. A score is awarded when a technique is performed according to the following criteria to a scoring area:
    a) Good form
    b) Sporting attitude
    c) Vigorous application
    d) Awareness (ZANSHIN)
    e) Good timing
    f) Correct distance

  3. IPPON is awarded for:
    a) Jodan kicks.
    b) Any scoring technique delivered on a thrown or fallen opponent.

  4. WAZA-ARI is awarded for:
    a) Chudan kicks.

  5. YUKO is awarded for:
    a) Chudan or Jodan Tsuki.
    b) Jodan or Chudan Uchi.

  6. Attacks are limited to the following areas:
    a) Head
    b) Face
    c) Neck
    d) Abdomen
    e) Chest
    f) Back
    g) Side
  • An effective technique, delivered at the same time that the end of the bout is signaled, is considered valid. A technique even if effective, delivered after an order to suspend or stop the bout shall not be scored and may result in a penalty being imposed on the offender.
  • No technique, even if technically correct, will be scored if it is delivered when the two Competitors are outside the competition area. However, if one of the Competitors delivers an effective technique while still inside the competition area and before the Referee calls “YAME”, the technique will be scored.

Criteria For Kumite Decision

  • The result of a bout is determined by a Competitor obtaining a clear lead of eight points, or at time-up, having the highest number of points, first unopposed point advantage (SENSHU), obtaining a decision (HANTEI), or by a HANSOKU, SHIKKAKU, or KIKEN, imposed against a Competitor.

  • Individual bouts can normally not be declared a tie. Only in team competition, or in round robin competition, when a bout ends with equal scores, or no scores, and neither Competitor has obtained SENSHU, will the Referee announce a tie (HIKIWAKE).

  • In any bout, if after full time the scores are equal, but one Competitor has obtained ‘first unopposed score advantage’ (SENSHU), that Competitor will be declared the winner. In any individual bout, where no score has been obtained by either Competitor, or the score is equal without any Competitor has obtained ‘first unopposed score' advantage’, the decision will be made by a final vote of the four Judges and the Referee, each casting their vote.
    A decision in favour of one or the other Competitor is obligatory and is taken on the basis of the following criteria:

    1. The attitude, fighting spirit, and strength demonstrated by the Competitors.
    2. The superiority of tactics and techniques displayed.
    3. Which of the Competitors has initiated the majority of the actions.

  • Should a Competitor that has been awarded SENSHU receive a Category 2 warning for avoiding combat for the following incidents: Jogai, running away, clinching, grabbing, wrestling, pushing or standing chest to chest when there is less than 15 seconds left of the bout – the Competitor will automatically forfeit this advantage. The Referee will then first show the type of infraction the Competitor did to solicit the support of the Judges. Once the Referee is supported by minimum two flags, he/she will show the sign for the applicable Category 2 warning followed by the sign for SENSHU, and finally the sign for annulment (TORIMASEN) At the same time announcing AKA/AO SENSHU TORIMASEN. If SENSHU is withdrawn when it is less than 15 seconds left of the bout, no further SENSHU can be awarded to either Competitor.

  • If the two teams have the same number of bout victories and points, then a deciding bout will be held. Each team may nominate any one Competitor of their team for purpose of fighting the extra bout, regardless if that person already has fought in a previous bout between the two teams. If the extra bout does not produce a winner based on superiority on points, nor any of the Competitors receive SENSHU, the extra bout will be decided based on HANTEI according to the same procedure as for individual bouts. The result of the HANTEI for the extra bout will then also determine the result of the team match.

  • In team matches when a team has won sufficient bout victories or scored sufficient points as to be the established winner, then the match is declared over, and no further bouts will take place.

  • In instances where both AKA and AO are disqualified in the same bout by Hansoku, the opponents scheduled for the next round will win by bye (and no result is announced), unless the double disqualification applies to a medal bout, in which case the winner will be declared by HANTEI, unless one of the Competitors has SENSHU.

Prohibited Behaviour

There are two categories of prohibited behaviour, Category 1 and Category 2.

  1. Techniques which make excessive contact, having regard to the scoring area attacked, and techniques which make contact with the throat.

  2. Attacks to the arms or legs, groin, joints, or instep.

  3. Attacks to the face with open hand techniques.

  4. Dangerous or forbidden throwing techniques.

  1. Feigning, or exaggerating injury.

  2. Exit from the competition area (JOGAI) not caused by the opponent.

  3. Self-endangerment by indulging in behaviour, which exposes the Competitor to injury by the opponent, or failing to take adequate measures for self-protection, (MUBOBI).

  4. Avoiding combat as a means of preventing the opponent having the opportunity to score.

  5. Passivity – not attempting to engage in combat. (Cannot be given after there is less than 15 seconds left of the bout.)

  6. Clinching, wrestling, pushing, or standing chest to chest without attempting a scoring technique or takedown.

  7. Grabbing the opponent with both hands for any other reasons than executing a takedown upon catching the opponents kicking leg.

  8. Grabbing the opponent’s arm or karategi with one hand without immediately attempting a scoring technique or takedown.

  9. Techniques, which by their nature, cannot be controlled for the safety of the opponent and dangerous and uncontrolled attacks.

  10. Simulated attacks with the head, knees, or elbows.

  11. Talking to, or goading the opponent, failing to obey the orders of the Referee, discourteous behaviour towards the Refereeing officials, or other breaches of etiquette.

Warnings & Penalties
  • There are three degrees of warning; CHUKOKU, KEIKOKU and HANSOKU CHUI. A warning is a correction given to the Competitor making it clear that the Competitor is in violation of the competition rules, but without imposing an immediate penalty.

  • There are two degrees of penalties: HANSOKU and SHIKKAKU, both causing the Competitor violating the rules to be disqualified from i) the bout (HANSOKU) - or ii) from the bout and the entire tournament (SHIKKAKU). In the case of SHIKKAKU further sanctions may still be imposed by the Legal and Disciplinary Commission based on the outcome of complaints.

  1. CHUKOKU: CHUKOKU is imposed for the first instance of a minor infraction for the applicable prohibited behaviour category.

  2. KEIKOKU: KEIKOKU is imposed for the second instance of a minor infraction for that category, or for infractions not sufficiently serious to merit HANSOKU-CHUI.

  3. HANSOKU-CHUI: This is a warning of disqualification usually imposed for infractions for which a KEIKOKU has previously been given in that bout although it may be imposed directly for serious infringements, which do not merit HANSOKU.

  4. HANSOKU: This is the penalty of disqualification following a very serious infraction or when a HANSOKU CHUI has already been given. In team matches the fouled Competitor’s score will be set at eight points and the offender’s score will be zeroed.

  5. SHIKKAKU: This is a disqualification from the entire tournament including any subsequent category the offender may have been registered for. SHIKKAKU may be invoked when a Competitor fails to obey the orders of the Referee, acts maliciously, or commits an act which harms the prestige and honour of Karate, or when other actions are considered to violate the rules and spirit of the tournament. In team matches the fouled Competitor’s score will be set at eight points and the offender’s score will be zeroed.

Injuries And Accidents In Competition
  • KIKEN or forfeiture is the decision given, when a Competitor or Competitors fail to present themselves  when called, are unable to continue, abandon the bout, or are withdrawn on the order of the Referee. The grounds for abandonment may include injury not ascribable to the opponent's actions. Forfeiture by KIKEN means that the Competitors are disqualified from that category, although it does not affect participation in another category.

  • If two Competitors injure each other or are suffering from the effects of previously incurred injury and are declared by the Tournament Doctor to be unable to continue, the bout is awarded to the Competitor who has amassed the most points. In Individual Bouts if the points score is equal, then a vote (HANTEI) will decide the outcome of the bout, unless one of the Competitors has SENSHU. In Team Matches the Referee will announce a tie (HIKIWAKE), unless one of the Competitors has SENSHU. Should the situation occur in an extra bout for deciding a Team Match, then a vote (HANTEI) will determine the outcome, unless one of the Competitors has SENSHU.

  • An injured Competitor who has been declared unfit to fight by the tournament doctor cannot fight again in that competition.
  • An injured Competitor who wins a bout through disqualification due to injury is not allowed to fight again in the competition without permission from the tournament doctor.

  •  When a Competitor is injured, the Referee shall at once halt the bout and call the doctor. The doctor is authorize to diagnose and treat injury only.

  •  A Competitor who is injured during a bout in progress and requires medical treatment will be allowed three minutes in which to receive it. If treatment is not completed within the time allowed, the Referee will decide if the Competitor shall be declared unfit to fight or whether an extension of treatment time shall be given.

  •  Any Competitor who falls, is thrown, or knocked down, and does not fully regain his or her feet within  ten seconds, is considered unfit to continue fighting and will be automatically withdrawn from all Kumite events in that tournament. In the event that a Competitor falls, is thrown, or knocked down and does not regain his or her feet immediately, the Referee will call the doctor, and at the same time start a verbal count to ten in the English language indicating his count showing a finger for each second. In all cases where the 10 second count has been started the doctor will be asked to examine the Competitor before the bout can resume. For incidents falling under this 10 second rule, the Competitor may be examined on the mat.

Kata Rules

  • Kata competition takes the form of team and individual bouts. Team matches consist of competition between three-person teams. Each team is exclusively male, or exclusively female. The Individual Kata competition consists of individual performance in separate male and female divisions.

  • The elimination system used for kata is dividing the Competitors (individuals or teams) in equal  number groups of eight (with the exceptions explained for less than 11 or more than 96) and for each round reduce the number of Competitors per group to 4 passing on to the next round - until only two groups of Competitors (individual or teams) remains, whereupon the Competitors with the highest score in each of the two respective groups are pitted against each other competing for 1st place (the loser taking 2nd place) and the Competitors having the second highest score in each of the two groups are pitted against the third highest score in the other group to compete for the two 3 rd places (bronze finals).


Official Kata List

List of the Shotokan Katas:-

  1. Heian Shodan
  2. Heian Nidan
  3. Heian Sandan
  4. Heian Yondan
  5. Heian Godan
  6. Tekki Shodan
  7. Tekki Nidan
  8. Tekki Sandan
  9. Bassai Dai
  10. Kanku Dai
  11. Enpi
  12. Jion
  13. Jiin
  14. Jitte
  15. Hangetsu
  16. Gankaku
  17. Bassai Sho
  18. Kanku Sho
  19. Chinte
  20. Unsu
  21. Meikyo
  22. Wankan
  23. Sochin
  24. Nijushiho
  25. Gojushiho Dai
  26. Gojushiho Sho.

Kata Criteria for Decision

  • Technical performance
  • Athletic performance
  • The performance is evaluated from the bow starting the kata until the bow ending the kata with the exception of team medal matches, where the performance, as well as the timekeeping starts at the bow in the beginning of the kata and ends when the performers bow after completing the Bunkai.
  • Slight variation as taught by the Competitor’s style (Ryu- Ha) of Karate will be permitted.

  • Kata Performance
  1. Technical performance
    a. Stances
    b. Techniques
    c. Transitional movements
    d. Timing
    e. Correct breathing
    f. Focus (KIME)
    g. Conformance: Consistence in the performance of the KIHON of the style (Ryu-ha) in the kata.

  2. Athletic performance
    a. Strength
    b. Speed
    c. Balance

  • Bunkai Performance (applicable to team bouts for medals)
  1. Technical performance
    a. Stances
    b. Techniques
    c. Transitional movements
    d. Timing
    e. Control
    f. Focus (KIME)
    g. Conformance (to kata): Using the actual movements as performed in the kata.

  2. Athletic performance
    a. Strength
    b. Speed
    c. Balance

Kata Disqualification Criteria

A Competitor or a team of Competitors may be disqualified for any of the following reasons:

  1. Performing the wrong kata or announcing the wrong kata.

  2. Failing to bow at the beginning and completion of the kata performance.

  3. A distinct pause or stop in the performance.

  4. Interference with the function of the Judges (such as the Judge having to move for safety reasons or making physical contact with a Judge).

  5. Belt falling off during the performance.

  6. Exceeding the total time limit of 5 minutes duration for Kata and Bunkai.

  7. Performing a scissor takedown technique to the neck area in Bunkai (Jodan Kani Basami)

  8. Failure to follow the instructions of the Chief Judge or other misconduct.

Kata Foul Criterias

The following fouls, if apparent, must be considered:

  1. Minor loss of balance.

  2. Performing a movement in an incorrect or incomplete manner such as failure to fully execute a block or punching off target.

  3. Asynchronous movement, such as delivering a technique before the body transition is completed, or in the case of team kata; failing to do a movement in unison.

  4. Use of audible cues (from any other person, including other team members) or theatrics such as stamping the feet, slapping the chest, arms, or karategi, or inappropriate exhalation, must be considered very serious fouls by the Judges in their evaluation of the performance of the kata – on the same level as one would penalize a temporary loss of balance.

  5. Belt coming loose to the extent that it is coming off the hips during the performance.

  6. Time wasting, including prolonged marching, excessive bowing or prolonged pause before starting the performance.

  7. Causing injury by lack of controlled technique during Bunkai.


SHOBU HAJIMEStart the Match or Bout
ATO SHIBARAKU15 sec before the match ends
MOTO NO ICHI Original position
TSUZUKETEFight on (Continue )
TSUZUKETE HAJIMEResume fighting – Begin (Continue after ‘Yame’)
SHUGO Judges called
HANTEI Decision
AKA (AO) NO KACHI Red (Blue) wins
AKA (AO) IPPONRed (Blue) scores three points
AKA (AO) WAZA-ARI Red (Blue) scores two points
AKA (AO) YUKORed (Blue) scores one point
HANSOKU-CHUI Warning of disqualification
HANSOKU Disqualification
JOGAI Exit from the match area not caused by the opponent
SENSHU First unopposed point advantage
SHIKKAKU Disqualification “Leave the Area”
KIKEN Renunciation
MUBOBI Self Endangerment