Karate demonstration at the US Open Martial Arts Championship, organized by the WFMAF.

Rules for Karate Kata

General Rules

  • Maximum performance time for all Karate katas is 1.5 minutes; minimum performance time 30 seconds.
  • Salute to the judges upon entering ring, then announce to the chief judge your name and the form you will be performing.
  • Once an age group is announced to perform, the cut off time for competitors at that age group to enter the competition is 5 minutes.
  • All Karate katas are scored based on good stance, balance, power, coordination, and structure; characteristics of the particular style performed and representation of combat effectiveness.

Karate Styles

  • Competitors are grouped by Freestyle and Traditional Style
  • Budokan, Goju-ryu, Kenpo, Kyokushin, Shito-ryu, Shorin-ryu, Shotokan, Uechi-ryu, Wado-ryu

Judging Criteria

  • Proper sequence of movement and correct accuracy of the techniques
  • Showing the key elements of kata: levels of strength, contraction and expansion of the body, change in the speed of the techniques, and fighting spirit
  • Following the proper course of direction and showing smoothness in the feet movements
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the meaning of each movement
  • Overall performance and illustrating the essential characteristics of the chosen Kata
  • Power and accuracy in the performance of basic techniques
  • Proper use of stances and postures, and the ability to focus the mind


  • Beginner Under Belts: 6 – 7.5 points
  • Intermediate Under Belts: 7 – 8.5 points
  • Advanced Under Belts: 8.5 – 10 points

Additional Rules

  • Unfinished routine – competitors of any event  leave the area of competition midway with the routine unfinished shall not be scored.
  • Forgetfulness – each occurrence of last memory shall result in a deduction of 0.1-0.3 according to the severity of the case. A subsequent pause affecting the rhythm of the movements shall result in a deduction of 0.1; a long pause 0.2; and pause leading to confused movements in a deduction of 0.3 point.
  • Weapon tangle/cut in the uniform, or touching the floor (if is recognized as not a part of the technique) shall result in a deduction of 0.1 point for each occurrence.
  • Dropping weapon/s on the ground shall result in a deduction of 0.5 point.
  • Loss of balance, tripping, shall result in a deduction of 0.1 for each occurrence, and a subsequent fall to the ground in deduction of 0.5 point.
  • Restarting routine – shall result deduction of 1 point
  • A competitor’s performance of the routine is interrupted by uncontrollable circumstances and may repeat it with the head judge’s approval without point deduction!
  • Extra acrobatic movement in traditional styles should not be taken in consideration for extra point scoring.
  • No flexible blade weapon (modern Wushu weapons) should be used in traditional divisions.

Karate Kata performed at the US Open Martial Arts Championship