General Rules


COMPETITOR: Each competitor must present him/herself to the referee suitably attired with proper uniform and equipment and physically prepared to compete. If he/she is not prepared to compete as deemed by the centre referee, the competitor may be penalized for delay of time.

DELAY OF TIME PENALTY: Sparring: An automatic warning will be issued to the competitor. A penalty point will be issued for each minute the competitor is not properly ready to compete. Upon 3 penalty points the offending competitor will be disqualified. Form: .01 points will be deducted from the offending competitor’s final score. Each minute the competitor is not ready to compete, .01 points will be deducted for his/her final score. If a competitor is still not ready to compete after 3 minutes, he/she will be disqualified.

RANK RULE: A competitor must compete at the highest belt level they have earned in martial arts. A competitor can never compete in a division of which he/she had not earned that rank. Once a competitor competes as a black belt legally, he/she must always compete as a black belt. A competitor can never compete in a lower belt division than the level of belt he/she has earned in the Martial Arts.

PROOF OF AGE RULE: All competitors must have a proof of age document. If there is a legitimate reason to question a competitor’s age, he/she must present a proof of age (birth certificate, ID, or other acceptable documents) to prove his/her age. The word of the parent is not acceptable. Only documented proof shall be accepted.

UNIFORM: All competitors must wear a complete (top and bottom) traditional or professional sport karate (Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, etc.) uniform in a good state of repair. The appropriate colour belt or sash must be worn in competition. Sparring: All sparring uniforms must have sleeves that reach at least to the elbow. No sweats, tank tops or shoes are allowed in the sparring divisions. Form & Weapons: T-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts are allowed in form if they are part of the competitor’s official school uniform. Uniforms in the form and weapons divisions are allowed more liberties because form is not one-on-one competition where the uniform could cause a decisive disadvantage or advantage to a competitor. Removal of the uniform top is allowed if the removal is considered relevant to the artistic expression or safety of the competitor. Shoes may be worn in form competition if they do not damage or mark the competition floor.

COMPETITOR RESPONSIBILITIES: It is the responsibility of the competitor to know the rules and be ready for competition when called to do so. He/she must be suitably attired, weighed-in and at the appropriate ring when competition begins. Three calls will be made for competition at ringside (NOT ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT SYSTEM) . If the competitor is not at his/her ring ready to compete when competition begins, he/she will not be able to compete (see delay of time rule). If a competitor leaves the ring after the competition begins and is not present when his/her name is called to compete, his/her name will be called three times at ringside. If he/she is still not present to compete, he/she will be disqualified (see delay of time rule).

REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Approved headgear; hand and footpads, mouthpieces, groin cups (for male competitors only) and chest guards (for all competitors 17 year old and younger) are mandatory for all competitors in sparring divisions. The competitor’s equipment will be checked and if it is deemed unsafe, he/she will be asked to change the equipment before he/she can compete. Hand Pads: A soft padded surface must cover the fingers, wrist and any striking surface of the hand. Foot Pads: A soft padded surface must cover the instep, sides, toes, ankle and back of the heel of the foot. The bottom of the foot does not have to be padded. (The use of sparring shoes in all sparring divisions IS NOT ALLOWED. Head Gear: The front, sides and back of the head must be covered by a soft padded surface. In addition to the head Gear, a face shield is required for all competitors 17 yrs. & under. Chest Guard: All 17 and younger competitors must wear an approved chest protector in sparring. The chest guard must sufficiently cover the abdomen and upper chest such that the sternum is completely protected. Rib guards that cover only the abdomen area are not approved chest guards. Insufficiently padded gloves, foot, chest and head hear will not be allowed. Equipment must be in a good state of repair and must be free of heavy taping, tears or any other repairs that may cause injury. The tournament’s official rules arbitrator ultimately determines the approval or denial of the equipment. A properly fitted mouthpiece is required. Shin pads and rib/chest guards are highly recommended for additional safety to all sparring competitors. All shin and foot protection must be under the fighting pants and not placed over it.

REFEREES: The referee is the most experienced official in the ring and is thoroughly versed on the rules and order of competition. He/she promotes the safety of the competitors, enforces the rules and ensures fair play. To this end, he/she starts and stops the match, awards points, makes penalty decisions, administrates the voting of the other judges, communicates clearly with the scorekeeper and timekeeper, and announces the winner of each match.

Added Powers of the Referee:

  1. 1)Match starts and ends only with his/her command (not the command of the timekeeper);
  2. 2)Has final decision on any disputes on score;
  3. 3)Has the power to issue warnings and award penalty points without a majority decision:
  4. 4)Can overrule a majority call only to issue a warning or a penalty point:
  5. 5)Automatically has power to disqualify a competitor who receives (3) penalty points;
  6. 6)Has power to issue time-outs. A competitor can ask for a time-out, but it is the determination of the referee to issue one. The disqualification of a competitor, where disqualification is not automatic, is determined only by a majority vote of the judges and consent of the Tournament Director.

OFFICIALS: Each ring should have a REFEREE, two to four JUDGES, a TIMEKEEPER/SCOREKEEPER. The judges call points and rule infractions as they see them. They also vote on disqualifications. The referee also calls points and rules infractions but is also in complete control of the ring and ring personnel. Referees make all final decisions on penalty points and warnings (except for disqualifications) but can consult judges before making their decisions. The majority vote of the judges and referee determines a scoring point and/or a competitor’s disqualification.

CALLS AN OFFICIAL MAY MAKE: When the referee believes there has been a significant exchange of techniques, or when signalled to do so by a corner a judge/s, he/she shall call out the word, “STOP!” in a loud voice. The referee shall then returns the competitors to their starting marks and addresses the judges by saying “JUDGES CALL!” All judges and the centre referee cast their votes simultaneously and assertively in the following manner..

1. Point Calling – When signalled by the referee (referee says “Judges Call” in a loud clear voice) a judge raises the appropriate hand pointing towards the scoring competitor. If a competitor scores a two point kick, the officials should hold up the other arm with two fingers (index and middle fingers). If only one point is being called, the judge should show only one finger (Index finger).

3. No Point Scored – An official crosses his/her wrist at waist level, he/she believes that a point was not scored.

4. Did Not See If A Point Was Scored – The officials holds his/her hand over his/her eyes indicating that he/she could not see whether a point was scored or not. Indicates the official was not in position to see if a point scored. (When using this signal, it has the same effect as saying “no point”, but it indicates to the referee, competitors and fans the reason why you are not calling the point).

5. Clash – Officials make a motion as though they are hitting both fists together, indicating that both competitors scored at the same time. (Ni-Oench)

6. Penalty – The judge waves the hand and arm in a circular motion while pointing at the offending competitor.

7. Disqualification – A disqualification vote is taken separately from any other vote. When a disqualification vote is asked for, the referee will communicate with the judges but ultimately be the final decision maker.

LATE CALLS: All officials should make their calls at the same time. If, in the opinion of the referee, the corner judges are making a late call intentionally, the referee can disqualify the call and/or judge (noise not allowing the judges to hear the referee and the honest mistake of pointing at the wrong competitor should be taken into consideration not to disqualify the call or judge).

NUMBER OF OFFICIALS: Two certified Referees are allowed in all Black Belt sparring divisions. If the approved certified judges and referees are not available, four judges and one referee are required in all black belt Grand Champion divisions. At least two judges and one referee are required in all sparring divisions and under black belt form, fighting and weapon divisions.

PROTEST: A competitor has the right to protest an infraction of the rules or if a possible mistake was made (not a judgment call). If a competitor wishes to protest, he/she should first let the referee know he/she believes there has been an infraction of the rules or a mistake has been made. The referee will summon the arbitrator to the ring (if the referee cannot properly settle the protest to the players satisfaction) to render a decision. All protests must be made in an orderly, proper and sportsmanlike manner. All protests must be made immediately. Protests are not allowed once competition has resumed (after the fact protest). A competitor may be penalized or even disqualified if he/she is protesting improperly or without proper cause.

LATE ENTRIES: Once a division has started (the first competitor has started his/her form/weapon routine or the first divisional fight has started) no competitor/s can be added to that division.


THE RING: The size of the fighting and form adult black belt rings shall be approximately 6X6m. Starting lines should be marked approximately six feet apart in the middle of the ring. Additionally, each ring should be posted with a ring number visible to competitors, officials, and medical personnel from across the floor. All youth and under black belt adult rings shall be a minimum of 5X5 m approximately.

WEIGHING-IN: It is mandatory for all adult fighting competitors – who are in weighed divisions – to weigh in before competition. Only one official weigh-in is required. All competitors must fight in his/her weight division. A competitor cannot fight up or down in another weight division for which he/she has not made the proper weight. It is the responsibility of the tournament personnel to weigh and properly record the competitor’s weight. If a competitor is caught falsifying their weight, they may be disqualified.

ORDER OF COMPETITION: Form: Once the final call for the form and weapon divisions has been made at ring side and the divisional seeds have been taken out (if seeding is required) the competition cards will be collected and shuffled thoroughly. The competitor cards will then be drawn randomly for the order of competition. The first three competitors will perform before any scores are awarded. After the third competitor is finished, the first competitor will be called to come back for scoring followed by the second and third competitors. All competitors in the division will be judged in comparison to these first three competitors

Sparring: Once the final call for the sparring division has been made at ring side and the seeds have been taken out (if seeding is required) the division is ready to be set up. The competition cards should be collected and counted (if competition cards are not used, count the competitors) to see if byes are needed. If byes are needed, they will be picked randomly (See bye chart to see how many byes are needed). Matches should always be selected by random, but certain allowances may be given to competitors from the same school or team that is matched up in the first round of competition. They may be separated randomly from each other in the first round if possible. (Competitors cannot pick whom they want or do not want to fight.)

In the junior division, the competitors should be lined up by height (Smallest to the tallest) and split into tall and short divisions if required or offered and only with consent from the tournament director. Determining tall and short divisions is for safety reasons, not just to split the division equally. A true break in size should be found to determine the taller competitors from the shorter competitors. Once the tall and short divisions are determined by height, determine who fights whom by random draw. Consideration should be given to competitors who are from the same school or team that have been drawn to fight each other in the first round.