Kumite Rules

Saturday, November 8, 2014: The Third Anniversary Tournament

Kumite Rules



United States Olympic Committee - National Karate Federation



The rules of Kumite 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 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 team selection divisions. 

These rules, or any part thereof, may be modified or amended by GOJU 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.  

Kumite competition shall be divided into appropriate categories or divisions based upon age, gender, weight and experience. Such divisions shall be announced prior to the Tournament, and depending on enrolled and registered competitors, such divisions may be modified at the sole discretion of the Tournament Director on the day of the Tournament.

Based on such divisions, the following round lengths shall be used:

Kids (under age 17):  2 minutes

Adults (17+): 3 minutes

No competitor may compete in a division designated for members of the opposite sex.

These rules shall apply to all entrants, officials, administrators, and other personnel for all competitions sanctioned by USA KARATE.

GOJU KARATE may authorize additional special rules as needed for a particular event, tournament, match or competition, or may promulgate unique or novel rules to meet unusual circumstances in accordance with the rules of GOJU KARATE, and as such must be approved by the Tournament Director and the Chief Referee for the event.

Any karateka who is disqualified for violation of any regulations of prohibited substances or drugs shall forfeit any titles and/or honors awarded and shall promptly return any medal and/or other awards. Examples of prohibited behaviors that would merit the imposition of sanctions include making a false or fraudulent statement regarding age or experience, entering under an assumed name, grossly unsportsmanlike conduct, theft, or any other act contrary to the recognized principals of karate-do.




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

  2. The competition area must be a matted square in all USA Team Trials competitions for selection of competitors for a United States National Team; for other tournaments or events the use of mats is OPTIONAL. (If not mats are used, then competition area shall be designated as deemed appropriate by Tournament Director.)

  3. The area shall be a matted square with sides of eight meters (measured from the outside), with an additional minimum of one meter on all sides as a safety area. Where mats are not used, the competition area may be defined by marking the boundaries with colored tape of appropriate thickness. The area may be elevated to a height of up to one meter above floor level. The elevated platform should measure at least twelve meters to a side in order to include both the competition and safety area.

  4. A line one-half meter long must be drawn two meters from the center of the competition area for positioning the Referee. Such lines may be laid down with colored tape of appropriate thickness.

  5. Two parallel lines, each one meter long and at right angles to the Referee’s line, must be drawn at a distance of one and one half meters from the center of the competition area for positioning the competitors. Such lines may be laid down with colored tape of appropriate thickness.

  6. A line must be drawn one meter on the inside of the competition area. The area enclosed by this line may be a different color, or the line itself may be broken. Such lines may be laid down with colored tape of appropriate thickness.

  7. 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.

  8. The Match Supervisor shall be seated just outside the safety area, behind and to the left or the right of the Referee. The Match Supervisor shall be equipped with a flag and a whistle or other audio signaling device.

  9. No spectators are permitted anywhere inside the safety area




All officials and contestants must wear the official uniform as herein defined.



    Competitors, Referees and Judges must wear a Gi with appropriate Goju Karate insignia and their rank belt.

    The Referee Committee may disbar any official or competitor who does not comply with this regulation. In cases of a minor deviation from the official uniform, the Referee Committee may allow participation of the official or competitor, provided that the deviation does not distract from the dignity of the competition or prejudice any other official or competitor

  2. One contestant must wear a red ribbon (“aka”) and the other a blue ribbon (“ao”). Ribbons are supplied by the Tournament and must be returned. Only Tournament-supplied ribbons may be used.
  3. The gi jacket, when tightened around the waist with the belt, must be of minimum length that covers the hips, but must not be more than three-quarters thigh length. Female competitors may wear a plain white T-shirt or leotard beneath the karate jacket. Male contestants may not wear any shirt of any kind or color underneath the gi jacket without the prior consent of the Referee Committee.

  4. The maximum length of the gi 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 either on the outside or inside of the sleeve.

  5. The gi trousers must be long enough to cover at least two thirds of the shin, must not reach below the ankle bone, and may not be rolled up either on the outside or inside of the leg.

  6. Contestants must keep their hair clean and cut to a length that does not obstruct smooth bout conduct or present a safety hazard to competitors. Hachimaki (head band) of any kind shall not be allowed. Should the Referee consider any contestant’s hair too longand/or unclean, the Referee may disqualify the contestant from the bout. Hair slides (“scrunchies”) are prohibited, as are metal hair grips (“barrettes”). A discreet rubber band or pony tail retainer is permitted. Ribbons and other decorations are prohibited.

  7. Contestants must have short fingernails and must not wear jewelry or other object(s) that might injure their opponents. The use of orthodontic appliances or braces must be approved by the Referee and the Official Doctor. The contestant accepts full responsibility for any injury.

  1. Approved fist pads are compulsory in all divisions. At the USA KARATE Signature Events and at any United States Team Trials competition(s), USA KARATE fist pads must be worn. Competitors shall supply one pair of fist pads in red and one pair in blue. At all other events, any color fist pad may be used that is of the type approved by the Tournament.

  2. Gum shields are compulsory in all divisions.

  3. Groin protectors are compulsory in all division for male competitors, including international and USA Team Trial divisions.

  4. Approved shin pads and instep protectors are OPTIONAL in all divisions. 

  5. Glasses are forbidden (soft contact lenses may be worn at the contestant’s own discretion). In all divisions except International and USA Team Trial Kumite divisions, an athlete may elect to wear shatter-proof, athletic safety goggles of an approved design.

13.  Women must wear authorized protective equipment for the chest area. Male and female competitors age 11 years and younger also may wear GOJU KARATE-approved or WKF-approved protective equipment for the chest area.

  1. Any protective equipment must meet GOJU KARATE specifications and be of a GOJU KARATE approved design, except where WKF-approved equipment is permitted or required.

  2. The use of bandages, padding, braces or supports because of injury must be approved by the Referee. The Referee shall make the final decision as to the permitted use of items or products applied or adhered to the competitor, related to medical treatment, such as tape or other supportive or corrective materials. If a contestant comes into the match area inappropriately dressed, he/she shall not be immediately disqualified; instead, the competitor shall be given one minute to remedy. The wearing of unauthorized clothing or equipment is forbidden.

  3. In all divisions except advanced and international and USA Team Trial divisions, a competitor may elect to use a soft foam head protector, provided that such protector is a solid color and of an approved design, that does not impede the ability of the athlete to score or be scored upon. However, the aka competitor may not wear a blue head protector, and ao may not wear a red protector.

  4. Female Muslim participants may wear the properly fitted official WKF approved black Hijab, which covers the head and neck.





  1. No contestant may be replaced by another in an individual match. 
  2. For Team Kumite, before each match a team representative must hand into the official table an official form defining the names and fighting order of the competing team members. The fighting order may be changed for each round, but once notified it may not be changed.

  3. Individual contestants or teams that do not present themselves when called shall be disqualified from that category. A team shall be disqualified if any of its members or its coach changes the team’s composition without submitting the written fighting order.

    A “round” is a discrete stage in a competition leading to the eventual identification of finalists. In a Kumite competition, a round eliminates fifty percent of contestants within it, counting byes as contestants. In this context, the round may apply equally to a stage in either primary elimination or repechage. In a matrix, or “round robin” competition, a round allows all contestants in a pool to fight once.

    The use of contestants’ names causes problems of pronunciation and identification. Tournament numbers may be allotted and used.




  1. The Referee Panel for each match shall consist of one Referee (Shushin), four Judges (Fukushin), and one Match Supervisor (Kansa). At the discretion of the Tournament Director, this make-up may be altered.

  2. In addition, for the purpose of facilitating the operation of matches, several timekeepers, caller-announcers, and record keepers shall be appointed.





  1. Duration of the kumite bout shall be two minutes for ages 17 and over, and two minutes for ages younger than 17. 

  2. The timing of the bout starts when the Referee gives the signal to start, and stops each time the Referee calls “Yame.”

  3. The timekeeper shall give signals by a clearly audible announcement or buzzer indicating “10 seconds to go” or “time up.” The “time up” signal marks the end of the bout.



Scores are as follows:

  1. IPPON (Three Points)
  2. WAZA-ARI (Two Points)
  3. YUKO (One Point) 


1. A point must be made to a scoring area and have the following characteristics:
a)  Good Form
b)  SportingAttitude
c)  Vigorous Application
d)  Awareness (Zanshin)
e)  Good Timing
f)  Correct Distance


IPPON is awarded for:

a)  Jodan kicks.

b)  Any scoring technique delivered on a thrown or fallen opponent.

WAZA-ARI is awarded for Chudan kicks.

YUKO is awarded for all other strikes.


2. Attacks are limited to the following areas:
    1. Abdomen
    2. Chest
    3. Side

3. Attacks are NOT permitted to any other area.

4. 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 warning orty being imposed on the offender.

5. No technique, even if technically correct, shall be scored if it is delivered when the two contestants are outside the competition area. However, if one of the contestants delivers an effective technique while still inside the competition area and before the Referee calls “Yame”, the technique shall be scored.

6. If two contestants hit each other at the exact same time, the scoring criterion of “good timing” has by definition not been met, and the correct judgment is to not award a point. Both contestants may however receive points for their respective scores if they each have two flags in their favor, and the scores both happen before “Yame” – and the time signal.






1. The result of a bout is determined by the first contestant to obtain eight points, or at time-up, having the highest number of points.

2. No individual bout can be declared a tie. Only in team competition, when a bout ends with equal scores, or no scores, will the Referee announce a tie (HIKIWAKI).

3. In individual bouts, if after full time there are no scores, or scores are equal, one additional round shall be fought until one competitor scores a point, and he or she shall then be declared the winner of the bout.




  1. There are two categories of prohibited behavior, Category 1 and Category 2.
  2. CATEGORY 1:
    1. Techniques which make excessive contact, having regard to the scoring area
      attacked, and techniques which make contact with the throat or head or face.
    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.
  3. CATEGORY 2:
    1. Feigning or exaggerating injury.
    2. Exit from the competition area (JOGAI) not caused by the opponent.
    3. Self-Endangerment by indulging in behavior which exposes the contestant to
      injury by the opponent, or failing to take adequate measures for self-protection.
    4. Avoiding combat as a means of preventing the opponent having the opportunity to
    5. Passivity – not attempting to engage in combat.
    6. Clinching, wrestling, pushing, seizing or standing chest to chest, without
      attempting a throw or other technique.
    7. Techniques which by their nature cannot be controlled for the safety of the
      opponent and dangerous and uncontrolled attacks.
    8. Simulated attacks with the head, knees or elbows.
    9. Talking to, or goading the opponent, failing to obey the orders of the Referee,
      discourteous behavior towards the Refereeing officials, or other breaches of etiquette.
    10. Receiving three CATEGORY 1 Warnings.


In the event that a competitor receives a CATEGORY 2 Warning, he or she shall be immediately disqualified, their score shall be set to zero, their opponent’s score shall be increased by one, and their opponent shall be declared the winner.

In the event that a competitor receives a CATEGORY 1 Warning, no action shall be taken other than to issue the warning. However, if a CATEGORY 1 Warning has already been issued, then one point shall be added to his or her’s opponent’s score.




REVISED: 16 October 2014