Each event has a separate listing of rules.  This page is a list of kata rules.  For a list of general rules that are not event specific, please click here.


Empty hand forms and Weapons Divisions

Kata competition takes the form of Team and Individual matches. Team matches consist of competition between multiple person teams. The Individual Kata match consists of individual performance in separate male and female adult (18 yrs and up), and Cadet (12 to17years) divisions. Junior divisions, under the age of 12 yrs., may be combined male and female and is the decision of the tournament director. The contestants will be expected to perform free selection (“TOKUI”) Kata during the competition. Black belt Contestants must perform a different Kata in each round, in the event of a tie score for places 1st thru 4th; once performed a Kata may not be repeated. Under black belt divisions may repeat kata in multiple rounds as needed to determine a clear winner. The karate-gi jacket may not be removed during the performance of Kata. Chinese style or other traditional cultural uniforms are permitted during kata competition.


  1. The panel of three or five Judges for each match will be designated by the Referee supervisor or Match Area Controller.
    2. The Judges of a kata match must not be the instructor of, team mate of, or have the nationality (international competition only) of any of the participants in the division; if possible. It is understood that during smaller events this may not be reasonable.
    3. In addition, timekeepers, scorekeepers and caller/announcers will be appointed.

Following a bow to the Judging Panel, the contestant will then move to the starting position and give a clear announcement of the name of the Kata that is to be performed, and will begin. On completion of the Kata, the contestant will wait for the scores to be announced, and the chief referee to dismiss. After Kata has been completed, return to the match area perimeter and await the decision from the Panel. 

The Kata must be performed with competence, and must demonstrate a clear understanding of the traditional principles it contains. In assessing the performance of a contestant or team the Judges will look for:
a. Realistic demonstration of the Kata meaning.
b. Understanding of the techniques being used (BUNKAI).
c. Good timing, rhythm, speed, balance, and focus of power (KIME).
d. Correct and proper use of breathing as an aid to KIME.
e. Correct focus of attention (CHAKUGAN) and concentration.
f. Correct stances (DACHI) with proper tension in the legs, and feet flat on the floor.
g. Proper tension in the abdomen (HARA) and no bobbing up and down of the hips when moving.
h. Correct form (KIHON) of the style being demonstrated.
i. The performance should also be evaluated with a view to discerning other points such as the difficulty of the kata presented.
j. In Team Kata synchronization without external cues is an added factor.

A BLACK BELT contestant who comes to a halt during the performance of Kata, or who performs a Kata different from that announced will be disqualified. Under black belt contestants may re-start the performance of the kata ONE time.
* Under belt divisions should be graded on a 5 to 7 scale with ten decimals. Black Belt divisions should be graded on a 7 to 9 point scale; also with ten decimals. Hand signals for scoring is acceptable; however, easily read score cards are preferred.
I. Traditional Kata is not a dance or theatrical performance. It must adhere to the traditional values and principles. It must be realistic in fighting terms and display concentration, power, and potential impact in its techniques. It must demonstrate strength, power, and speed — as well as grace, rhythm, and balance.
II. Team Kata: all team members must start the Kata facing in the same direction and towards the Chief Judge.

III. No ties are permitted. The competitor/Team, who receives the highest numeric score, will be declared the winner by the calling announcer.