Kata and Team Kata Rules

Saturday, November 8, 2014: The Third Anniversary Tournament

Kata and Team Kata Rules




The rules of Kata & Kobudo competition for all tournaments, matches, and competitions sanctioned by GOJU KARATE shall be as stated herein. These rules shall be used in all sanctioned competitions, without modification or amendment except as allowed by these rules. These rules are based upon the rules adopted by the USA Karate National Karate Federation (NKF or USA-NKF) and the World Karate Federation (WKF) for use in international competition. In any competition utilized to select competitors for the United States National Karate Team, the international rules without modification shall be used to conduct all such USA team selection divisions. These rules, or any part thereof, may be modified or amended by USA KARATE at any time.

Whenever a specific rule is in conflict with a more general rule, the specific rule takes precedence. Exceptions to these rules may be made only with the prior approval of the Referee Committee of GOJU KARATE for special circumstances attendant to a particular event, tournament, match or competition. A written request for exception should be submitted no less than thirty days prior to the date of the event.





1.1  The competition area must be flat and devoid of hazard. 

1.2  The competition area must be of a sufficient size to permit the uninterrupted performance of Kata. 




2.1  Contestants and Judges must wear the official uniform as defined in the Kumite Rules. 

2.2  Any person who does not comply with this regulation may be disbarred. 

2.3  Contestants who present themselves incorrectly dressed shall be given one minute in which to remedy matters. 



3.1  Kata competition takes the form of team and individual matches. Team matches consist of competition between three person teams. Each team is exclusively male or exclusively female. The individual Kata match consists of individual performance in separate male and female divisions. In the sole judgement of the Tournament Director, two-person teams may be permitted.

3.2  Kata competition may be conducted using the flag system of judging. Unless otherwise decided by the Tournament Director and Chief Referee, the flag system shall always be used. However, Tournament Directors are permitted to substitute a point-system instead.

3.3  The elimination system with repechage shall be applied at USA KARATE Signature Events. 

3.4  Any traditional karate kata maybe performed in kata divisions with the exception of weapons kata (kobudo), which can only be performed in weapons kata divisions. ONLY KATA AT RANK-LEVEL MAY BE PERFORMED.

3.5  In flag-system divisions, contestants must perform a different Kata in each round. Once performed a Kata may not be repeated. 

3.6  In Team Kata competition, the teams shall perform their chosen Kata in the usual way. They shall then perform a demonstration of the meaning (Bunkai) of the Kata. The total time allowed for the Kata & Bunkai demonstration combined, is six (6) minutes. 

3.7  In Team Kata, the official timekeeper shall start the countdown clock as the team members perform the bow upon entering the tatami and will stop the clock at the final bow after the Bunkai performance. A team which does not perform the bow at the completion of the performance, or which exceeds the six-minute period allowed shall be disqualified. The use of traditional weapons, ancillary equipment or additional apparel is not allowed. 



4.1  In USA Karate Signature Events, if sufficient personnel are available, a panel of five (5) Judges for each match shall be designated by the Referee Committee or Tatami Manager. Otherwise, at the discretion of the Tournament Director and Referee Committee, a panel may consist of  fewer Judges. 

4.2  A scorekeeper, caller/announcer and when necessary, a timekeeper will be appointed. 


5.1 Assessment:

In assessing the performance of a contestant or team the Judges will evaluate the performance based on the four (4) major criteria; Conformance, Technical Performance, Athletic Performance, and Technical Difficulty:



BUNKAI PERFORMANCE (applicable to team kata f)

1. Conformance

to the form itself and the standards of the applicable school

1. Conformance (to kata)
using the actual movements as performed in the kata

2. Technical Performance

  1. Stances 
  2. Techniques 
  3. Transitional movements 
  4. Timing/Synchronization 
  5. Correct Breathing 
  6. Focus (kime) 

2. Technical Performance

  1. Stances 
  2. Techniques 
  3. Transitional movements 
  4. Timing 
  5. Control 
  6. Focus (kime) 

3. Athletic Performance

a. Strength b. Speed c. Balance d. Rhythm

3. Athletic Performance

a. Strength b. Speed c. Balance d. Timing

4. Technical Difficulty

of the kata

4. Technical Difficulty

of the techniques performed


5.2 Disqualification:
A competitor or team of competitors may be disqualified for any of thefollowing reasons:

  1. Performing the wrong kata or announcing the wrong kata. 
  2. A distinct pause or stop in the performance for several seconds. 
  3. Interference with the function of the judges (such as the judge having to move
    for safety reasons or making physical contact with a judge). 
  4. Belt falling off during the performance of kata. 
  5. Exceeding the total time limit of 6 minutes duration for Kata and Bunkai. 
  6. Failure to follow the instructions of the Chief Judge, or other misconduct. 



6.1  At the start of each bout and in answer to their names, the two contestants, one wearing a red ribbon (AKA) and the other wearing a blue ribbon (AO), shall line up at the match area perimeter facing the Chief Kata Judge. 

Unless otherwise determined by the Tournament Director and Chief Referee: 

  • 6.2  All Advanced competitors and competitors 18 years old and older shall perform their kata one at a time, in accordance with paragraph 6.3 (a) below. 


  • 6.3  Competitors 17 years old and younger in the Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate divisions shall perform their Kata two competitors at a time, subject to ruling by the Chief Judge and the Tournament Director, in accordance with paragraph 6.3 (b) below. 
    1. Individual Execution: 
      1. Following a bow by both competitors to the Judging Panel, Ao shall then step back out of the match area. 
      2. After moving to the start position and cleaning announcing the name of the Kata that is to be performed, Aka shall wait for the signal to begin his or her kata from the Chief Judge. 
      3. On completion of the Kata, Aka shall hold his or he last position and await the command to leave the area to await the performance of Ao. After Ao’s Kata has been completed, both shall return to the match area perimeter and await the decision from the Panel. 
    2. Simultaneous Execution: 
      1. Following a bow by both competitors to the Judging Panel, both competitors shall enter the match area and space themselves so as to avoid collision or interference in the performance of their Kata. 
      2. After moving to their starting positions and a clear announcement of the names of the Kata to be performed, both competitors shall wait for the signal to start from the Chief Judge. 
      3. On completion of their Kata, the competitors shall hold their last stance until instructed to return to stance, and then shall stand side-by-side in the match area and await the decision from the Panel. 


6.4  The decision shall be for Aka or Ao. No ties are permitted. The competitor who receives the majority of votes shall be declared the winner by the caller/announcer. 

6.5  The competitors shall bow to each other, then to the Judging Panel, and leave the area. 

6.6  In the event the scoring is performed via a single-round, judged elimination, each judge shall score from 1 to 10 points for the overall performance of thekata.

    • The process shall be:
      • If there is one judge, that score shall be the final score of the competitor.
      • If there are three judges, the scores shall be averaged to a single decimal point (e.g. “8.5” not “8.49”).
      • If there are more than three judges, the highest and lowest scores shall be dropped, and the final score shall be the average of the remaining scores, rounded to a single decimal point, as above.
      • In all cases, the Chief Judge shall assign to each Judge a role in the event there are three or more judges (e.g. one judge for technical merits, one for spirit and performance, etc.).


7.1 Only the GOJU KARATE Referee Committee may alter or modify these rules.