American Shotokan Karate Federation
American Shotokan
Karate Federation


Throughout the year local, regional, and national tournaments are held. Most tournaments offer seminars on karate as well as the competitions. Tournaments are an excellent way to put the skills you learn to practical use. Karateka can participate in several different events. In all events participants are grouped by age, gender and skill in order to make the competition as fair as possible. This does not mean you won’t compete against someone older, stronger, or more experienced; in small events there sometimes aren’t enough participants to break out into groups.

Rank Definitions

Beginner: White Belt, Yellow Belt, Orange Belt, Blue Belt; Intermediate: Green Belt, Purple Belt; Advanced: Brown Belt, Black Belt.

Competition Format

Division to be determined by the tournament Director by number of contestants and skill level (size is also considered in kumite). Gender may be mixed. Individual kata and kumite break down; skill levels Beginner (10-7 Kyu), Intermediate (6-4 Kyu), Advanced (3 kyu and up) age 7 and under, 8-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18-35, 35 and up.

Tournament officials reserve the right to split or combine divisions if there are too many or too few competitors in a division.


All participants must perform Japanese or Okinawan Kata. Contestants will be scored on their kata by a panel of 5 judges- the highest and lowest scores will not be added in unless a tie occurs, the lowest score will be added in and if still a tie, the highest scores will be added in and if still a tie then both contestants will perform second kata. In the Advanced divisions, contestants will perform two kata with the scores for both kata to be added together to determine score.

Mandatory Kata

This is an open division for all ages 5th Kyu and up. All participants must perform mandatory kata (Heien, Pinan or Geisai) randomly selected by Chief Referee. Modified Repicharge will be used to determine the winner.

Team Kata

Divisions will be determined based on the number of participants. Participants must perform Japanese or Okinawan Kata. Modified Repicharge will be used in Team Kata.

Kata is scored in the following manner:

The scorekeeper will announce scores, starting with the chief judge at the front and center of ring and proceeding clockwise around the ring. The high score and the low score will be dropped and the remaining three scores are totaled for the competitors score. In case of a tie, the scorekeeper will add the low score back in. If still tied, the high score will be added. If still tied, the chief judge will ask the competitor to perform another kata.


Sparring between opponents. Karateka attempt to score points on their opponent by executing techniques with sun-dome, which means to stop the blow 1 – 3 centimeters from the point of contact. A half point is awarded for punches, strikes or kicks that achieve sun-dome. A full point is awarded for combination techniques; a block followed by a successful attack, or an attack that catches the opponent completely off-guard.
Lower ranks participate in 3-point kumite called sanbon, the upper ranks do a 1-point kumite, called ippon.

Kumite Rules

Modified Repicharge will be used in Kumite with two-minute matches. Time will be running time which will only be stopped when directed by Chief Referee.

Brown and Black Belts will be Ippon (one point) Kumite. The bout is determined by scoring 1 Ippon or 2 Waza-ari (1/2 points). There will be four judges and a center referee, using flags.

Fourth Kyu and below will be Sanbon (3 point) Kumite. The bout is determined by scoring 3 Ippons or 6 Waza-ari or a combination of the two totaling Sanbon. This will have a referee, judge and arbitrator (arbitrator is score keeper of the match and maybe consulted for an opinion of the match.)

Target Areas

  1. Head.
  2. Face.
  3. Abdomen.
  4. Chest.
  5. Back.

Ippon Criteria

Ippon is awarded for the following:

Good form, correct attitude, vigorous application, Zanshin, proper timing and correct distance.

An Ippon may also be awarded for techniques deficient in one of the above criteria but which conform to the following;

  1. Jodan Kicks—kicks to the head.
  2. Successfully scoring at the precise moment the opponent attacks.
  3. Sweeping/deflecting an attack and scoring to the unguarded back of the opponent.
  4. Delivering a combination technique, the individual components of which each score on their own right.
  5. “Perfect technique” – superbly executed technique to legal target area delivered with kiai.

Waza-ari is awarded for a technique almost comparable to that needed to score an Ippon.

Ippon is decisive; a technique that could finish the fight and Waza-ari is a technique that could have hampered the opponent’s ability to fight.

The following is forbidden:

  1. Techniques to the throat.
  2. Excessive Contact.
  3. Attacks to the spine, groin, joints or instep.
  4. Attacks to the face with open hand.
  5. Dangerous throws.
  6. Uncontrollable techniques ( i.e. spinning hook kick, ax kick, spinning back fist ).
  7. Repeat direct attacks to legs or arms.
  8. Wasting time.
  9. MUBOBI-display a lack of regard for personal safety.
  10. Feigning of injury in order to gain advantage.

Penalties/warnings will be imposed for infractions of the rules.

Penalties/disqualifications may be given by chief judge in varying degrees depending on the seriousness of the offense and if repeated. This may be a warning, ½ point, full point, and or disqualification, but does not necessarily start at lowest level, all at the discretion of the chief judge.

Jogai – Out of Bounds

This relates to a situation where a contestant’s foot or part there of moves out side the competition area, unless pushed out by an opponent. The following are the different levels of Jogai penalties (Sanban/Ippon):

First Jogai – warning/warning
Second Jogai – 1/2 point awarded to the opponent/second warning
Third Jogai – Full point awarded to opponent/Match given to opponent
Fourth Jogai – Match given to the opponent/Not applicable

No technique will be scored if it is delivered when the two contestants are outside the competition area. However, if one the competitors is outside the competition area and the opponent delivers as effective technique whilst still inside the competition area and before the referee calls “Yame” or “Stop”, the technique will be scored

Simultaneous techniques delivered by both contestants shall not score.

Tournament Vocabulary

Referee Signal
Aka Always the compeditor to the head judge’s right hand side whether it is in kumite or in mandatory kata.
Shiro Always the compeditor to the head judge’s left hand side whether it is in kumite or in mandatory kata.
Waza-Ari Referee reaches up to his opposite (non-scoring) shoulder and extends his arm down towards the side that has scored.
Ippon Referee reaches down to his opposite (non-scoring) hip and extends his arm up towards the side that has scored.
No Kachi Same action as Full Point.
Jogai Outside match area penalty. Referee uses two hand signals with this announcement. First the referee announces Red or White. Then he points (with his index finger) to the match boundary on the side of the offender and then points to the offender announcing the appropriate penalty if needed. He then awards any required points to the other compeditor. The first time a compeditor goes out of bounds, a warning is called. The second time, another warning is called, and the other person recieves a Half Point. The third time, another warning is called, and the other person recieves a Full Point. That would be the end of the match in Ippon Kumite. The fourth time, another warning is called, and the other compeditor automatically wins the match.
Out of Bounds
Torimasen Referee crosses arms over chest, then uncrosses and holds arms out from body with palms downward.
Unacceptable scoring technique
Hikiwake Referee crosses arms over chest, then uncrosses and holds arms out from body with palms upward.