The Competition rules are developed to ensure clear decisions given by the Judges and Referees which can easily be understandable by public.


All coaches, athletes referees and officials are subject to Shotokan Karate-do discipline and respect.

Competition Area

The competition area will be a matted square, with sides of eight metres (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 metres on each side. Where an elevated competition area is used, the safety area should be of an additional one (1) metre on each side. 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. 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. 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. The score-supervisor will be seated at the official score table, between the scorekeeper and the timekeeper. 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. The one metre border must be in a different colour from the rest of the matted area.

Official Dress

Referees The official uniform will be as follows: A single-breasted navy-blue blazer (colour code 19-4023 TPX). A white shirt with short sleeves. An official tie, worn without tiepin. A black whistle. A discreet white cord for the whistle. Plain light-grey trousers without turn-ups. Plain dark blue or black socks and black slip-on shoes for use on the match area. Female Referees and Judges may wear a hairclip and religiously mandated headwear, Referees and Judges may wear a plain wedding band. Competitors Competitors must white plain, ironed clean Karate-gis The Nationel 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. 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. Female Competitors may wear a plain white T-shirt beneath the Karate jacket. Jacket ties must be tied. Jackets without ties may not be used. 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. 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. Competitors must keep their hair clean and cut to a length that does not obstruct smooth bout conduct. 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. Competitors may use religiously mandated head-wear: A black plain fabric head scarf covering the hair, but not the throat area. 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. Coaches Coaches shall at all times during the tournament, wear the official tracksuit of their National Federation and display their official identification Female Coaches may wear religiously mandated headwear for Referees and Judges

Protective Equipment

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


WSF Shotokan Competitions are as follows, Individual Kumite Competitions Shobu Ippon Kumite 1 Ippon, 2 Wazari Shobu Sanbon 3 Ippon, 6 Wazari WKF Kumite Categories Individual Kata Competitions Team Kata Competitions Team Kumite Competitions (3 plus 1 reserve) Competition are seperated with male and female categories in individual and team competitions, Individual competitions are seperated to weight divisions, Team Kata and Kumite teams includes three team members and one reserve, Weigh in tolerance is only 500 Grams in all categories, 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. Referee Panel One Match Supervisior (KANSA). One Referee (SHUSHIN) 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 bout

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: IPPON Two points WAZA-ARI One point A score is awarded when a technique is performed according to the following criteria to a scoring area: Good form Sporting attitude Vigorous application Awareness (ZANSHIN) Good timing Correct distance IPPON is awarded for: Jodan Kicks Unbalancing or falling opponent and scoring, Successfully blocking and scoring on time, Deai attacks, Consequtive series of attack which all should reach to the target, The opponent is without any defense Effective techniques delivered under the following conditions shall be considered as Ippon : An attack delivered with perfect timing when the opponent started to move towards the attacker, An attack delivered immediately when the opponent was unbalanced by the attacker, A combination of effective attacks, A combined use of nage techniques and effective attacks, When the opponent has lost his fighting spirit, When there is no attempt to defend against the attack, When there is no chance to defend against the attack, All techniques must touch to the target. If both competitors move and execute a technique at the same time and with similar intensity, this is called Aiuchi. In this instance, the attacks cancel each other and no points are scored. WAZA-ARI is awarded for: Chudan Kicks, Uraken uchi, tsuki, Tsuki to the body, A technique that is well executed but does not qualify as a 1 point or Ippon, is defined as a half point or Waza-Ari. Attacks are limited to the following areas: Head Face Neck Abdomen Chest Back Side An effective technique, delivered at the same time that the end of the bout is signalled, is considered 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. For reasons of safety, throws where the opponent is grabbed below the waist, thrown without being held onto, or thrown dangerously, or where the pivot point is above hip level, are prohibited and will incur a warning or penalty. Exceptions are conventional karate leg sweeping techniques, which do not require the opponent to be held while executing the sweep such as de ashi-barai, ko uchi gari, kani waza etc. After a throw has been executed the Competitor must immediately attempt a scoring technique for a score to be valid.

Kumite Competition Criteria

If none of the two competitors reach the full score within the allotted time, each Judge indicate their decision as to the outcome of the match or event. The outcome of the match or event is determined by the decision of all the Judges together. Referee will then decide the outcome of the match or event. Criterias if any points are scored if there are warnings or Hansoku Chui that have been given if there are out of bounds warnings or Jogai Chui that have been given, if there are volunteer non defending warnings or Muboubi Chui that have been given, if one competitor has dominated more in that match, skill and strength of the techniques displayed, fighting spirit and effort shown by a competitor; if there has been any caution or Keikoku given, proper frame of mind shown by a competitor the amount of attacks performed by one competitor as compared to the other, Sai Shiai If the outcome of the match or event cannot be decided, a draw or Hikiwake is then declared. If there is a draw, another match will be held. This re-match is called Sai-Shiai. If this re-match ends up in a draw, a second re-match called Sai-Sai-Shiai will be held. However, the Head Judge may order that this second re-match is a “sudden death” match meaning that the competitor that scores first is declared the winner. 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. After a second re-match the Judges must determine a winner. Sai Shiai will be applied also in team competitions, in case of hikiwake fourth any member of the team fights, first score defines the victory, again hikiwake sai sai shihai will be applied, first score defines the victory and again hikiwake referee panel will decide the victory. 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

Prohibited Behaviour

The following actions are forbidden, Excessive contact, going beyond the target, “wild” swinging techniques performing or intent to perform dangerous throws, To perform or to start acting to try dangerous throws, Using bad words, verbal taunting or not to follow orders of the Referee, After yame command or Jogai command continuing attack,v To intend or start head attack, Open hand or Nukite attacks to the eyes or head, Direct attacks to the groins, If an attack has been identified but not severe as to cause injury or damage to a competitor, a Chukoku or Keikoku is then given. This caution does not affect judging decision but if a second caution is given, called warning or Hansoku Chui, in the same match, this could result in disqualification (Hansoku) of the opponent and the other competitor is declared the winner. If an attack has been identified as severe and there is obvious malicious intent or if a competitor is seriously injured or damaged, a warning (Hansoku Chui ) or a disqualification (Hansoku ) can be given to the opponent and the other competitor is declared the winner. Any competitor who has received a disqualification or Hansoku twice during a tournament, is not allowed to continue to compete in Individual or Team Kumite. However, participation in Kata Events is possible. The competitor who has received a first disqualification or Hansoku is to be identified by the marking of a red tape, placed on the upper arm on one side. When a Hansoku is announced by the Head Judge, the scorekeeper will record this on a specific document that is submitted to the Master Chief Judge.


If a competitor touches the ground outside the borders of the court with any part of the body, a caution indicative of out of bounds or Jogai Keikoku is then announced. If this happens a second time, an out of bounds warning or Jogai Chui is given. If this happens a third time, a disqualification by out of bounds or Jogai Hansoku is given to the perpetrator and the other competitor is declared the winner. If a competitor scored before being out of bounds, his score will prevail.


A caution for volunteer non defending called Muboubi Keikoku, a warning for volunteer non defending called Muboubi Chui and a disqualification for volunteer non defending called Muboubi Hansoku can be given in the following situations: if it is obvious that a competitor does not provide any defensive effort and gets hit, then that competitor receives the appropriate level of volunteer non defending and the other competitor the appropriate level of reprimand or Hansoku if it is identified that a competitor shows no fighting effort, Although not necessarily hit, a competitor can receive a non defending reprimand, either caution, warning or disqualification as the referee may judge the present situation dangerous. In that case the other competitor is declared the winner.


An absolute disqualification or Shikkaku is given in the following situations that the Referee and the Judges have already discussed, and therefore the other competitor is declared the winner: Shikkaku can be applied to all team or individual or any member of the delegation, Not to obey the orders of the Referee, To display or verbal or body language which is unacceptable as a Karate athlete, In the tournament area or sporthall an absolute decision for disqualification or Shikkaku can be imposed to any person who are against Karate discipline, After imposing a Shikkaku, can not continue any kata or kumite events any more, Detailed reports of Shikkaku will be presented to the Referee Commitee,


Withdrawal or Kiken is given by the Refere in the following situations: Failing to present when the team or individuals called, Volunteer withdrawal, Not to continue a match ongoing, If a competitior or team withdraws other team is declared as winner and the score is zeroed, A competitor who voluntarily withdraws with no obvious phsical reasons cannot compete in any other matches or events, Kiken also can be applied in Kata competitions,


If a competitor is injured, the Head Judge will consult with the doctor and will await a diagnosis of the injury. The match is thus stopped until the doctor has finished the care of the injured competitor. If a competitor in unable to continue a match due to that injury, the Judges will decide if a withdrawal or Kiken is to be given. If that is the case, without calling a disqualification or Hansoku, then the other competitor is declared the winner. If both competitors are injured and there are no disqualifications or Hansoku issued, then the match is stopped and a decision as to the outcome of the match will be called. This decision prevails even if the disqualified competitor has scored a half point or Waza-Ari. This decision prevails even if the disqualified competitor has scored a half point or Waza-Ari. In case of an injury, the doctor will discuss the injury with the Referee and can request that the injured or incapacitated competitor withdraw from Kumite events. That competitor could participate in Kata events at the doctor’s recommendation.


Kata Rules

In a Kata Event, a Kata is performed in a tatami area. The Referee’s make a decision in order to declare a winner. The different types of Kata Events or Matches are as follow:

  1. Red and Blue flag system; The registered Kata’s will be announced by the athletes and performed simulatenously at the same time by the competitors placed in the drawing sheets.
  2. Point system: Each competitor will perform a Kata and each Referee’s gives score for the performance of the athlete. A total score will be declared as the winner.
  3. Team Kata: 3 Competitors will perform the same Kata and starting by facing to the front or shomen at a starting position of their choice. The team is given a score by Red and Blue flag system.  The 3 competitors have a choice to form a triangle or a reversed triangle.
  4. Bunkai: Bunkai shall be applied only in Senior categories
  5. Repechage: Repechage shall be applied in Kata competitions both Individual and Team.
  6. 7-8-9 Years athletes may perform 2 different Heian Kata in each round, example first round heian shodan and second round heian nidan, heian shodan can be repeated in fourth round. But in final all athletes must perform super katas.
  7. 10-11-12 Years athletes may perform 3 different Heian Kata or super katas in each round, example first round heian shodan, second round heian nidan and third round heian sandan, heian shodan can be repeated in fourth round. But in final all athletes must perform super katas.
  8. Cadets, Juniors, Seniors and Masters must apply different Kata’s in each round and also in finals different kata must be applied.
  9. Coach or athlete must register the name of the Kata before performing Kata,
  10. The Kata competition shall be with flag system with 5 judges, according to the number of judges can be with 3 judges by decision of Referee Commitee,
  11. The both Aka or AO (Shiro) will perform Kata together in elimination rounds Group final, semi final and finals Kata will be performed seperate.
  12. In team kata, teams will perform seperate, In team kata all team members will face to the head judge and must salute all together in the beginning line and starting line,
  13. In team kata competition reserve athlete must be registered.

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 Decision

Criteria for judging a Kata Event are as follow:

a) Proper sequence of movement

b) Observing the 3 key elements of Kata:

  • Levels of strength,
  • Contraction and expansion of the body
  • Change in the speed of the techniques

c) Power and accuracy in performance of basic techniques;

  • Posture,
  • Balance,
  • Stance
  • Accuracy in reaching the point of target

d) Following the proper course of direction and accuracy in returning to the starting position or Embusen

e) Overall performance and illustrating the essential characteristics of the chosen Kata

f) Displaying courtesy in attitude, fighting spirit and effort, and correct eye contact or Chakugan

g) Proper use of stance and posture or Kamae and the ability to focus the mind or Zanshin

h) Accuracy in transforming the body parts into “weapons” of attack and defense

i) If there are any exaggerated movements or intentional change to the set flow of the Kata

j) Synchronization of performance in Team Kata

Technical performance and athletic performance will be evaluated from the bow starting the Kata until th ebow 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 performer bow after completing the Bunkai. Slight variations as taught by the competitor’s style (Ryu-Ha) of Karate will be performed.

Kata Disqualification Criterias

  1. Performing 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 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, Performing a scissor takedown technique to the neck area in Bunkai (Jodan Kani Basami) 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.
  8. Finishing Kata away from the starting position of the Kata (Embusen)

Official Protest

No one may protest about a judgement to the members of the Judging Panel. If a Judging procedure appears to contravene the rules, the Competitor’s Coach or its official representative are the only ones allowed to make a protest. The protest will take the form of a written report submitted immediately after the bout in which the protest was generated. (The sole exception is when the protest concerns an administrative malfunction. The Tatami Manager should be notified immediately the administrative malfunction is detected). The protest must be submitted to a representative of the Appeals Jury. In due course the Jury will review the circumstances leading to the protested decision. Having considered all the facts available, they will produce a report, and shall be empowered to take such action as may be called for. Any protest concerning application of the rules must be announced by the Coach no later than one minute after the end of the performance. The Coach will request the official protest form from the Tatami Manager and will have four minutes to have it completed, signed and submitted to Tatami Manager with the corresponding fee. The Tatami Manager will immediately hand the completed protest form to a representative of the Appeals Jury that will have five minutes to render a decision. The complainant must deposit a Protest Fee as agreed by the WSF Executive Commitee, and this, together with the protest must be lodged with a representative of the Appeals Jury.


Tournament Host : The organizer of the tournament, usually the national karate organization.

Referee Committee : Committee to govern, to manage and to control the application of the Ippon Shobu, Nihon Shobu Kumite competition rules of World Shotokan Federation,

Match Area Managers : Senior judges who are mandated to manage and coach the match judges on a certain match area.

Judges : Chief Judge, Arbitrators, Referees and Corner Judges.

Match Judges : Arbitrator, Referee and Corner Judges designated for one match area.

Appeals Jury : The Appeals Jury is comprised of three Senior Referee representatives appointed by the Referee Committee. No two members may be appointed from the same National Federation. The RC should also appoint three additional members with designated numbering from 1 to 3 that automatically will replace any of the originally appointed Appeals Jury members in a conflict of interest situation where the jury member is of the same nationality or have a family relationship by blood or as an In-Law with any of the parties involved in the protested incident, including all members of the Refereeing panel involved in the protested incident.

Shobu ippon hajime:   Start of the match

Yame Stop:   Tsuzukete hajime Continue (after ‘Yame’) Tsuzukete Continue Atoshibaraku 30 seconds before the match ends Soremade End of the match Motonoichi Come to your first position (Ordering the contestants to their fixed positions) Jogai, nakae You are out, enter the match area (Ordering the contestants to return into the match area) Ippon A decisive technique Waza-ari An effective technique Awasete Ippon Together Ippon (Two waza ari’s recognized as one ippon) Aiuchi Same time (Valid scores at the same moment by the two contestants) Fukushin shugo Calling the Judges together Hantei Decision Aka (Shiro) no kachi Victory of the red (white) Hikiwake A draw Hansoku chui Warning of disqualification Hansoku Foul Hansoku make Disqualification due to a foul Shiro (Aka) hansoku, aka (shiro) no kachi A foul by the white (red), the victory of the red (white) Shiro (Aka) no kiken niyori,aka (shiro) no kachi Victory by the red (white) due to renunciation by the white (red) Encho sen Extending the time period over which the match is conducted Uke te imasu Technique blocked Nukete imasu Technique missed / passed Haiyai Quicker / Fast Yowai Weak Ma-ai Distance Fujubun Not good enough Torimasen Not acceptable Atenai Take care, you may not touch Mubobi Lack of self-protection Shikaku Disqualification from Tournament Mienai Nothing seen Keikoku Official reprimand

Referee Gestures

Judge Gestures