Are you recently practicing Karate or do you want to start doing it? Find out the rules of Karate according to the World Karate Federation (WKF).

    Karate rules according to the WKF

    Getting started in a martial art or contact sport such as Karate can result in a titanic task.

    To facilitate the situation, we tell you the rules of Karate according to the WKF so that you can correctly practice this discipline without any detail escaping you.

    A good karate fighter should know the rules and guidelines established by the combat and exhibition of this sport in all its areas.

    Find out the rules of Karate according to the WKF

    Just as in any other sport it is essential to know the rules and guidelines of its practice, so it is with Karate.

    To avoid being sanctioned, fined or even suspended from combat, you must also apply the guidelines that are established in a personal way with the uniform and personal grooming.

    Karate rules according to the WKF Tokio 2020

    However, as the rules are so extensive, in this post we will just talk about the rules you have to know for Karate Kumite.

    Official Karate Uniform

    WKF approved Karategi

    In order to participate, it is crucial that competitors use a white karate-gi without stripes, trim or embroidery. It should carry the shield or flag of competitor’s country, on the left side of his chest without exceeding an area of 12cm by 8cm.

    Karate rules according to the WKF Kappa

    Only the manufacturer’s brand and identification number supplied by the Organizing Committee may appear in karate-gi. During the combat, a contestant must wear a red belt and his opponent a blue one.

    WKF approved belts

    The belts must have a width of at least 5cm and a length that allows at least 15cm left over on each side of the knot; they must not have marks or embroideries that are not of the manufacturer.

    Karate rules according to the WKF

    WKF jacket

    The belt will be tied around the waist holding the jacket, which should cover the hips and not exceed three quarters of the thigh length. The use of jackets without side straps is not allowed.

    The sleeves should not be shorter than the middle of the forearm, or longer than the cuffs fold. The sleeves should never be folded.

    WTF Pants

    Pants must cover at least two thirds of the calf and not cover the ankle, pants must never be folded.

    Karate rules according to the WKF
    Azerbaijan France Male team kumite Smaal Rene

    Official guidelines for personal grooming of karate fighters

    Competitors must show up with clean and cut hair so that their length does not affect the combats.

    They can fasten their hair with a discreet rubber band. Nails should be short and without metal or other objects that could injure the opponent. Failure to comply with any of these guidelines, the referee may disqualify the competitor.

     Mandatory protections for karate

    Each competitor must comply with the following mandatory protections:

    • WKF approved gloves: those of a competitor must be red and the other blue.
    • Mouth guard
    • Chest guard and also WTF approved chest guard in the case of women.
    • Shin guard approved by the WKF, one competitor will wear it red and the other blue.
    • Foot protector approved by the WKF, one competitor will wear it red and the other blue.
    • Groin guard is optional, but, if worn, must be approved by the WKF.

    The use of quilts, bandages or other support due to injury must be approved by the referee after hearing the tournament doctor.


    Prohibited items in WKF Karate

    The following items in WKF Karate are not allowed:

    • The Hachimaki (forehead band).
    • Hair clips or any metal part.
    • Ribbons, beads and ornaments.
    • Glasses of any kind, if the competitor wishes, he can wear soft contact lenses under his responsibility.
    • The use of unauthorized articles, garments and equipment is prohibited.

    Karate rules during Kumite competitions

    For Kumite competitions certain rules must be followed, starting with the fact that no competitor can be replaced by another, once the draw has been made

    Individual or team competitors must be attentive, because if they do not show up when called, they will be disqualified (KIKEN) in the corresponding category. In this case of team matches, the score of the match will mark in favor of the attending team 8-0.

    The men’s teams will be made up of seven participants, of which five will compete in each tie. While the women’s teams will be made up of four; and three of them will participate in each tie.

    A representative will present to the official table an official form with the data of the members and the combat order of each lap. Changes without notification to the official table could cause disqualification for the team.

    Duration of Karate matches  

    The duration of a Kumite match is three minutes for senior men, both individually and in teams. For senior women the matches will be two minutes.

    Sub21 matches will be three minutes for men and two minutes for women. For the Junior and cadet category the duration will be two minutes.

    The match starts when the referee gives the signal and stops every time the referee says “YAME”. A bell will ring when there are 10 seconds left to finish the match.

    Competitors will have a time between matches, of the same duration as their match, to rest and adjust or change the protections.


    WKF Karate Score

    The scoring form is known by three types of points:

    • IPPON: Three points
    • WAZA-ARI: Two points
    • YUKO: one point

    Scoring is performed when a technique is performed in a scoring zone according to the following criteria:

    • Good shape
    • Positive attitude
    • Vigorous application
    • Zanshin
    • Appropriate time
    • Right distance

    IPPON is valid when Jodan kicks or any scoring technique performed on a fallen opponent is made.

    WAZA-ARI is valid when Chudan kicks are made

    YUKO is valid when Chudan or Jodan Tsuki, Jodan or Chudan Uchi kicks are made.

    Attacks are limited to the following areas:

    • Head
    • Face
    • Neck
    • Abdomen
    • Chest
    •  Rear area
    • Side area (sides)

    No technique will be scored even if it is right when performed outside the competition area.

    Prohibited behavior in WKF Karate

    There are two categories of prohibited behaviors. The first one is related to techniques of attacks not allowed, which are aimed at eyes, throat, arms, legs, groin, joints or instep.

    While the second category focuses on not exaggerating injuries to penalize the competitor’s opponent, not putting himself in danger, avoid combat by showing passivity. Grab or push without a valid throw technique, grab the karate-gi, arms or legs of the opponent without a valid technique.

    Simulated attacks with head, knees or elbows, as well as provoking the opponent, not obeying the referee’s orders or unsportsmanlike impolite behavior.

    Penalties in Karate WKF

    There are various penalties and infractions:

    • CHUKOKU: minor infraction.
    • KEIKOKU: warning of second infraction.
    • HANSOKU-CHUI: disqualification warning.
    • HANSOKU: disqualification for a very serious infraction.
    • SHIKKAKU: disqualification of the tournament, competition or match. 

    We hope this summary of the main WKF Karate rules and guidelines will help you; and you can apply them to improve your participation in Karate tournaments and competitions .


    Do you already have all the equipment you need for Karate?

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