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UNDER BLACK BELT RULES: WFM does not regulate UBB rules, but has guidelines for promoters to follow for the purpose of safety. Some promoters will post the rules to be used in the ubb competition. This is not regulated by WFM.  WFM does however have a set of standard divisions promoters use for the purpose of ratings.  WFM is constantly revising these divisions for fairness and competitiveness.  Please always contact the tournament promoter concerning Under Black Belt rules.

COMPETITOR:  Each competitor must present him/herself to the referee suitably attired with proper uniform and equipment and physically prepared to compete.  If he/she is not prepared to compete as deemed by the center referee, the competitor may be penalized for delay of time.

DELAY OF TIME PENALTY:  Sparring: An automatic warning will be issued to the competitor.  A penalty point will be issued for each minute the competitor is not properly ready to compete.  Upon 3 penalty points the offending competitor will be disqualified.  Form:  .01 points will be deducted from the offending competitor’s final score. Each minute the competitor is not ready to compete, .01 points will be deducted for his/her final score.  If a competitor is still not ready to compete after 3 minutes, he/she will be disqualified.

RANK RULE:  A competitor must compete at the highest belt level they have earned in the martial arts.  A competitor can never compete in a division of which he/she had not earned that rank.  Once a competitor competes as a black belt legally, he/she must always compete as a back belt.  A competitor can never compete in a lower belt division than the level of belt he/she has earned in the Martial Arts.

PROOF OF AGE RULE:  All competitors must have a proof of age document.  If there is a legitimate reason to question a competitor’s age, he/she must present a proof of age (birth certificate, driver’s license, or other acceptable documents) to prove his/her age.

LEGAL AGE RULE:  All competitors have the option of competing in the same division all year long for rating purposes, by establishing a legal competition age for the year.  The age a competitor is on June 30th of the current competition year is their legal competition age for that year.  They can compete all year at that age so he/she can earn rating points in one age division all year.  A competitor can always compete in his/her chronological age if they chose.

UNIFORM:  All competitors must wear a complete (top and bottom) traditional or professional sport karate (Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, etc.) uniform in a good state of repair.  The appropriate color belt or sash must be worn in competition. Sparring:  All sparring uniforms must have sleeves that reach at least to the middle of the Biceps. No T-shirts, sweats, tank tops or unapproved shoes are allowed in the sparring divisions (see sparring foot pads).   Form & Weapons:  T-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts are allowed in form if they are part of the competitor’s official school uniform.  Uniforms in the form and weapons divisions are allowed more liberties because form is not one-on-one competition where the uniform could cause a decisive disadvantage or advantage to a competitor.  Removal of the uniform top is allowed if the removal is considered relevant to the artistic expression or safety of the competitor.  Shoes may be worn in form competition if they do not damage or mark the competition floor.

COMPETITOR RESPONSIBILITIES:  It is the responsibility of the competitor to know the rules and be ready for competition when called to do so.  He/she must be suitably attired, weighed-in and at the appropriate ring when competition begins.  Three calls will be made    for competition at ringside.  If the competitor is not at his/her ring ready to compete when competition begins, he/she will not be able to compete (see delay of time rule).  If a competitor leaves the ring after the competition begins and is not present when his/her name is called to compete, his/her name will be called three times at ringside.  If he/she is still not present to compete, he/she will be disqualified (see delay of time rule).

REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT:  WFM approved headgear; hand and footpads, mouthpieces, groin cups (for male competitors only) and chest guards (for all competitors 17 year old and younger) are mandatory for all competitors in sparring divisions.  The competitor’s equipment will be checked and if it is deemed unsafe, he/she will be asked to change the equipment before he/she can compete.  Hand Pads:  A soft padded surface must cover the fingers, wrist and any striking surface of the hand.  Foot Pads:  A soft padded surface must cover the instep, sides, toes, ankle and back of the heel of the foot.   The bottom of the foot does not have to be padded.  (WFM has approved the use of “Ringstar sparring shoes in all sparring divisions, with the same stipulations placed on other approved sparring gear.) Head Gear:  The front, sides and back of the head must be covered by a soft padded surface.  In addition to the head hear, a face shield is required  for all competitors 17 yrs. & under.  Chest Guard: All 17 and younger competitors must wear an approved chest protector in sparring. The chest guard must sufficiently cover the abdomen and upper chest such that the sternum is completely protected.  Rib guards that cover only the abdomen area are not approved chest guards. Insufficiently padded gloves, foot, chest and head hear will not be allowed.  Equipment must be in a good state of repair and must be free of heavy taping, tears or any other repairs that may cause injury.  The tournament’s official rules arbitrator ultimately determines the approval or denial of the equipment.  A properly fitted mouthpiece is required.  Shin pads, elbow pads and rib/chest guards are highly recommended for additional safety to all sparring competitors in all divisions.

REFEREES:  The referee is the most experienced official in the ring and is thoroughly versed on the rules and order of competition. He/she promotes the safety of the competitors, enforces the rules and ensures fair play.   To this end, he/she starts and stops the match, awards points, makes penalty decisions, administrates the voting of the other judges, communicates clearly with the scorekeeper and timekeeper, and announces the winner of each match.   Added Powers of the Referee:  1) Match starts and ends only with his/her command (not the command of the timekeeper); 2) Has final decision on any disputes on score; 3) Has the power to issue warnings and award penalty points without a majority decision: 4) Can overrule a majority call only to issue a warning or a penalty point: 5) Automatically has power to disqualify a competitor who receives (3) penalty points; 6) Has power to issue time-outs.  A competitor can ask for a time-out, but it is the determination of the referee to issue one.  The disqualification of a competitor, where disqualification is not automatic, is determined only by a majority vote of the judges.

OFFICIALS:  Each ring should have a REFEREE, two to four JUDGES, a TIMEKEEPER/SCOREKEEPER.   The judges call points and rule infractions as they see them. They also vote on disqualifications. The referee also calls points and rules infractions but is also in compete control of the ring and ring personnel.  Referees make all final decisions on penalty points and warnings (except for disqualifications) but can consult judges before making their decisions.  The majority vote of the judges and referee determines a scoring point and/or a competitor’s disqualification.

CALLS AN OFFICIAL MAY MAKE:  When the referee believes there has been a significant exchange of techniques, or when signaled to do so by a corner a judge/s, he/she shall call out the word, “STOP!” in a loud voice.  The referee shall then returns the competitors to their starting marks and addresses the judges by saying “JUDGES CALL!”  All judges and the center referee cast their votes simultaneously and assertively in the following manner.


1. Judge Sees a Point – He/she should hold up both colors or hold up one arm if colors are not being used.  At the same time, he/she yells out the word “CALL!” in a loud, clear voice to let the referee know he/she has a call.

2. Point Calling – When signaled by the referee (referee says “Judges Call” in a loud clear voice) a judge raises the appropriate color (red or white usually) if colors are being used or points to the competitor who scores the point.  If a competitor scores a two point kick, the officials should hold up or point with two fingers (index and middle fingers).  If only one point is being called, the judge should point with only one finger (Index finger).

3. No Point Scored – An official crosses his/her wrist at waist level or holds both colors down to indicate that he/she believes that a point was not scored.

Did Not See If  A Point Was Scored – The officials holds his/her  hand over his/her eyes indicating that he/she could not see whether a point was scored or not.  Indicates the official was not in position to see if a point scored.  (When using this signal, it has the same effect as saying “no point”, but it indicates to the referee, competitors and fans the reason why you are not calling the point).

4. Clash – Officials make a motion as though they are hitting both fists together, indicating that both competitors scored at the same time.

Penalty – The judge waves the color of the offending competitor in a circular motion.  If no colors are used the judge waves the hand and arm in a circular motion while pointing at the offending competitor.

5. Disqualification – A disqualification vote is taken separately from any other vote. When a disqualification vote is asked for, the referee will say, “JUDGES CALL”. The judges will then hold the color or point to the competitor who is to be disqualified. If the judge does not feel the competitor should be disqualified, he/she crosses his/her wrist or holds both colors down at waist level.

LATE CALLS: All officials should make their calls at the same time.  If, in the opinion of the referee, the corner judges are making a late call intentionally, the referee can disqualify the call and/or judge (noise not allowing the judges to hear the referee and the honest mistake of raising the wrong color or pointing at the wrong competitor should be taken into consideration not to disqualify the call or judge).

NUMBER OF OFFICIALS:  2 or 4 WFM judges and one WFM referee is allowed in all weapon, form and sparring divisions (4 or 6 judges and 1 referee is allowed in weapons and form grand championships). If only two judges and one referee are used in the weapons and form divisions, the “Maximum Deviation Rule” will be used in all form and weapon divisions.

MAXIMUM DEVIATION RULE: Since the high and low scores are not dropped when three officials are used in form and weapons, the maximum deviation rule limits the impact of a single judge’s score to control with his/her high or low score the outcome of placement.  The judge’s score that is between the other two judges scores (middle score) is considered the middle score.  Once that score has been determined, the other two judges cannot be higher or lower than .02 points of that middle score.  If their score is higher or lower than .02, they must adjust their score up or down accordingly to that .02 maximum deviation. See complete Maximum Deviation Rule for more details.

REMOVAL OF OFFICIALS:  If a competitor feels that an official should be removed from a form or weapon division for good reason, he/she must file a protest before the division begins.  If a competitor feels that an official should be removed from a sparring division, he/she may file a protest at any time.  It is totally up to the center referee and the rules arbitrator to determine if an official should be removed.

PROTEST:  A competitor has the right to protest an infraction of the rules or if a possible mistake was made (not a judgment call).  If a competitor wishes to protest, he/she should first let the referee know he/she believes there has been an infraction of the rules or a mistake has been made.  The referee will summon the arbitrator to the ring (if the referee cannot properly settle the protest to the players satisfaction) to render a decision.  All protests must be made in an orderly, proper and sportsmanlike manner.  All protests must be made immediately.  Protests are not allowed once competition has resumed (after the fact protest). A competitor may be penalized or even disqualified if he/she is protesting improperly or without proper cause.

LATE ENTRIES:  Once a division has started (the first competitor has started his/her form/weapon routine or the first divisional fight has started) no competitor/s can be added to that division. BE ON TIME! Only exception to this rule is the “Fairness Rule” at the end of this rules summary.

THE RING:  The size of the fighting and form adult black belt rings shall be approximately 20’ x 20’.  Starting lines should be marked approximately six feet apart in the middle of the ring.  Additionally, each ring should be posted with a ring number visible to competitors, officials, and medical personnel from across the floor.  All youth and under black belt adult rings can be a minimum of 16’ to a maximum of 20’.

WEIGHING-IN:  It is mandatory for all adult fighting competitors – who are in weighed divisions – to weigh in before competition.  Only one official weigh-in is required.  All competitors must fight in his/her weight division.  A competitor cannot fight up or down in another weight division for which he/she has not made the proper weight.  It is the responsibility of the tournament personnel to weigh and properly record the competitor’s weight. If a competitor is caught falsifying their weight, they will be disqualified.

ORDER OF COMPETITION:  Form: Once the final call for the form and weapon divisions has been made at ring side and the divisional seeds have been taken out (see seeding rules) the competition cards will be collected and shuffled thoroughly.   The competitor cards will then be drawn randomly for the order of competition. As per the Relative Ranking Rule the judges will look at all the competitors before they give their final scores.  This rule allows judges to adjust their scores if they feel other competitors that come later are better or worse than the competitors who came first (See Relative Ranking Rule Sheet).  Sparring: Once the final call for the sparring division are made at ringside and the seeds have been taken out (See Seeding Rules) the division is ready to be set up.  The competition cards should be collected and counted (if competition cards are not used, count the competitors) to see if byes are needed.  If byes are needed, they will be picked randomly (seeds may have first priority for bys, see seeding rules).  Matches should always be selected by random, but certain allowances may be given to competitors from the same school or team that is matched up in the first round of competition.  They may be separated randomly from each other in the first round if possible.  (Competitors cannot pick whom they want or do not want to fight.)

In the youth division, the competitors should be lined up by height (Smallest to the tallest) and split into tall and short divisions if required or offered.  Determining tall and short divisions is for safety reasons, not just to split the division equally. A true break in size should be found to determine the taller competitors from the shorter competitors.  Once the tall and short divisions are determined by height, determine who fights whom by random draw.  Consideration should be given to competitors who are from the same school or team that have been drawn to fight each other in the first round.

WFM COMPETITOR SEEDING:  See WFM Seeding Rules for all question on seeding of competitors.

SPARRING RULES also see Team Fighting Rules:

**New for 2013:  All adult Black Belt Sparring competitors 30+ has the option to compete down in age .  Example:  Any 30+, 40+, 50+ and 60+ year old competitor can compete in any younger adult Black Belt Division.  A competitor cannot compete up in an age division.

LENGTH OF MATCH:  Two minute running-time unless a competitor is seven points ahead (Seven Point Spread Rule) before time has expired.  If a match is tied at the end of two minutes, sudden victory (first person to score a point) overtime period will determine the match.  At the 1 minute 45 second mark of a sparring match, the time keeper will shout out “FIFTEEN SECONDS”. New: Overall Grand Championship matches are two, two minute rounds.

POINT VALUES AND WINNER DETERMINATION:  All legal hand techniques that score will be awarded one (1) point.  All legal kicking techniques that score will be awarded two (2) points.  All jump spinning kicks to the head are 3 points.  All penalty points awarded will be awarded one (1) point. The competitor who is ahead by 7 points (7 Point Spread Rule) before the two minute time period is automatically declared the winner or whoever is ahead at the end of the two minutes is declared the winner.  All grand championship matches are also two-minute running time with a 10 Point Spread Rule or who is ahead at the end of two minutes. New for 2013:  If a competitor goes down to the ground, to avoid fighting without being pushed or shoved down, the upright competitor receives a point. Down is when any part of your body is touching the competition floor except your feet and/or one hand.  If a competitor goes out of bounds to avoid fighting without be pushed or shoved out, the inbounds competitor receives a point. New:  All Grand Championship matches must win by two points.

MARJORITY VOTE:  Points are awarded by a majority vote of all judges.  The majority of judges do not have to agree on the same technique being scored, only that a point was scored.  A majority of the judges calling the point must call a two (2)-point kick before two points can be awarded. Otherwise only one point is awarded.

WHAT IS A POINT:  A point is a sport karate technique that is scored by a competitor in-bounds and up-right (not considered down) without time being called that strikes a competitor with the allowable amount of focused touch contact and focused control to a legal target area. Focused Touch Contact:  the legal amount of contact allowed to certain scoring areas.  Focused Control: an amount of controlled force that would have incapacitated the opponent, at least momentarily, if the technique had not been controlled.

LEGAL TARGET AREAS:  Entire head and face, ribs, chest, abdomen, collarbone and kidneys.  ILLEGAL TARGET AREAS: Spine, back of neck, throat, sides of the neck, groin, legs, knees and back.  NON-TARGET AREAS:  Hips, shoulders, buttocks, arms, and feet.      LEGAL TECHNIQUES:  Legal techniques are all controlled sport karate techniques, except those listed as illegal.    ILLEGAL TECNIQUES:  Head butts, hair pulls, bites, scratches, elbows, knees, eye attacks of any kind, take downs on a hard surface floor, ground fighting on a hard surface, any stomps or kicks to the head of a downed competitor, slapping, grabbing for more than one second, uncontrolled blind techniques, any uncontrolled throws, takedowns or sweeps and any other uncontrolled dangerous techniques that are deemed unsafe in sport karate.

GRABBING:  A competitor may grab the uniform top of his/her opponent in an attempt to score with a sport karate technique for only one second (immediately), after which time he/she must release the uniform.  Likewise, the uniform pants may be grabbed for one second to an upright opponent in an attempt to score.

SWEEPS, TAKEDOWNS, GRABS AND GROUND FIGHTING:  Sweeps not to take down an opponent, but only to obstruct the balance so as to follow up with a sport karate technique can only be executed to the back of the front leg at mid-calf or below.  A sweep must be deemed a proper sweep and not a kick, to be legal.  Controlled Takedowns and sweeps that are meant to take down an opponent are not allowed.  A point is awarded only when the legal sweep or takedown is followed up effectively legally and immediately with an appropriate sport karate technique.

LIGHT TOUCH CONTACT:  Means there is no penetration or visible movement of the competitor because of the contact.  Light touch is required to all legal target areas in all black belt sparring divisions.  The face shield of a headgear along with the headgear is a legal target area.

MODERATE TOUCH CONTACT:  Means slight penetration or slight target movement.  Moderate touch contact may be made to all legal target areas except the headgear, face shield and face.

WARNINGS AND PENALTIES:  One and only one warning is allowed for breaking the rules before a penalty point is awarded.    After the first warning is given, a penalty point is awarded for each and every rules violation.  If a competitor receives four warnings (three penalty points) in any one match, he/she will be disqualified.  If the severity of the first rules violation is deemed by the referee to be too severe, a penalty point can be issued immediately and the first warning will be forfeited.

Other Penalty Rules:  A competitor cannot be penalized and still receive a point on the same call.  A competitor can receive a point for a proper technique and another point from a penalty call against his/her competitor.  If, in the opinion of the referee and/or the medical personnel, a competitor cannot continue because of an injury caused by an illegal penalized attack executed by his/her competitor, the offending competitor shall be automatically disqualified.

Other Cause for Penalization:  Attacking illegal and non-target areas, using illegal techniques, running out of the ring to avoid fighting, falling to the floor to avoid fighting, continuing after being ordered to stop, excessive stalling, blind, negligent or reckless attacks, uncontrolled techniques, showing unsportsmanlike behavior by the competitor, his/her coaches, friends, etc., excessive contact, and delay of time are just some examples of possible penalization. See new Limiting Contact between Officials and Competitors for other possible penalizations.

DISQUALIFICATION:  Requires a majority vote by all officials, unless it is an automatic disqualification. Non-Competing Penalty: If, in the majority opinion of the officials, it is considered that one or both competitors are not making an obvious attempt to compete in the sparring match in the true spirit of competition, one or both competitors will be warned and if it continues, will be disqualified. Wrong Division:  If any competitor competes in a division he/she does not qualify to compete in due to age, weight, rank, gender, style, etc., he/she will be disqualified.

COACHING:  The luxury of having a coach is something that most competitors do not have access to.  Therefore, it sometimes can become an unfair advantage over a competitor who does not have a coach.  The rules are made and enforced so no one competitor has an advantage or disadvantage over another competitor. Therefore, coaching is allowed but only under the following guidelines:

1.  Never, at any time, can a coach enter the ring without the referee’s permission

2.  No abusive, violent, unsportsmanlike or overzealous coaching;

3.  Coaches cannot ask for a time out unless they are protesting a rules violation (only the competitor may ask for a time out),

4.  Coaches can never, at any time, interfere with the proper running of the ring or the decisions of the judges. 

A Coach is defined as anyone who is trying to help one competitor in anyway. A coach could be but is not limited to a friend, parent, teammate, or an official coach.   The center referee can issue a warning to a competitor for each time his/her coach is interfering with a match or disrupting fair play between contestants.  A referee can ask for a disqualification of a contest, but requires a majority vote of all judges.

OUT-OF-BOUNDS:  A competitor is out-of-bounds as soon as he/she does not have at least one foot touching inside or on the boundary line.  An out of bounds competitor cannot score a point while out of bounds.  In bounds competitor can score on an out of bounds competitor if the center referee has not called stop.

FORM RULES (Also see form and weapons judging criteria rule sheet)      

TIME LIMIT:  Each divisional form or weapons routine must be three (3) minutes or less.  The time starts once the competitor enters the competition ring.  Four (4) minutes is allowed for each form or weapons routine in the Night Time Finals.  Each team form and/or demo routine as a four (4) minutes time limit.  Any competitor, team form or team demo that goes over the allowed time limit is automatically disqualified.   At the 2 minute 45 second mark of a competitor’s form the time keeper will shout out “FIFTEEN SECONDS”.

SCORING RANGES OF FORM AND WEAPONS:   The Scoring range should always be discussed by the center referee and judges before the divisions starts.    

TIES:  If there is a tie for 1st thru 4th place, the majority of the judge’s scores determine the winner. If there is not a majority of judges for one competitor and one judge or more gave the same score for the tied competitor, the judge that gave the same scores must be ask to make a decision and break the tie.  All judges must make scoring decisions by giving different scores to the competitors.  Ties for 5th through 8th place are never broken.  They will remain tied and all will receive points and awards.  If there is a tie and there is not a majority judge’s decision and no judge gave the same score to any one competitor, the tied competitors will compete again and be scored again.

STARTING A FORM OVER:  If a competitor starts his/her form over because of a memory lapse or any other reason due to his/her own negligence, he/she may perform the form again.  The officials will score as though there was not a mistake, but the center referee will instruct the scorekeeper to subtract .50 points from the competitor’s final score.  The three-minute time limit will start over.  A competitor can only start over one time for scoring.  If a competitor has to start over not due to his/her negligence, he/she will not be penalized on the start over.

FAIRNESS RULE:  If a question arises that is not completely covered by this rule book, the official rules arbitrator may at his/her discretion, overrule, modify or change a delineated rule if he/she believes that enforcing such a rule would result in a inherent unfair outcome to a competitor.  However, the rules arbitrator should overrule, modify or change a delineated rule only in extreme cases.




  1. Youth Black Belt Additions: 

  2. The Girls 11 & under Creative Weapons Division has been separated into: 9 & Under Girls Creative Weapons and 10-11 Girls Creative Weapons.


  4. Adult:

  • 50 + Senior Women Black Belt Divisions now have two weight divisions.

  • All Senior 50 + Women Black Belt Divisions now have both Traditional and Creative Forms and Weapons.

  • New 60+ Men and Women Black Belt divisions in Weapons, Forms and Sparring.

  • The Adult Black Belt Age Divisions have changed to:  18+, 30+, 40+ 50+ and 60+.  The “+” sign after the age number means any competitor that age or older can compete in that division.  Competitors are allowed to compete in one age division in sparring and a different age divisions in forms and/or weapons.  If a competitor chooses to compete in two different age categories it is their responsibility to be at the ring when their divisions start.  Divisions cannot be held to wait for competitors.  It is vital the competitors know the schedule of events and ring assignments.

  • Light Welter Weight and Welter Weight divisions have been added to the 18+ Black Belt Men’s Divisions making a total of 8 weight divisions.  An additional 18+ Men’s Welter Weight Divisional Sparring Grand has been added.  One additional weight division and Grand as been added to the Women’s 18+ Sparring Divisions making a total of 4.

  • To be eligible to compete in an 18+ Overall Grand Championship in Weapons, Forms or Sparring a competitor must win an 18+ Weapon, Form or Sparring division.


  2. Sparring Rules:

  • 3 points will be awarded for a “Jump or Spinning Kick” to the head. All other point values will stay the same.

  • If a competitor touches the ground with any part of their body except for the bottom of their feet or one hand they are considered down and the standing competitor receives 1 point.  If a competitor goes out of bounds (both feet out) the competitor in bounds receives 1 point.  (Shoving and/or pushing a competitor down or out of bounds are not allowed and the guilty competitor can be penalized).

  • The Final Overall 18+ Men and Women Sparring Grand Championships will be two, two minutes rounds with 1 minute rest between rounds and competitors must win by two points.  If tied at the end of the second round “Sudden Victory” (first person to get two points ahead will win) will determine the winner.  All point values are still the same during the overtime period.  Semi finals Overall 18+ Men and Women Sparring Grand Championship matches are still one round but competitors must win by two points.   All Divisional Sparring Grand Championships are still one two minute round but competitors must win by two points.  All Sparring Grand Championship matches are still total points or 10 Point Spread Rule.


  2. Weapons and Form Rules:

  • All competitors may still use music in all “Overall Weapons and Forms Grand Championships and Runoffs” but in Divisional Weapons and Form Grand Championships, music may only be used by competitors in the CMX Divisional Grand Championships (this includes creative and extreme winners).  No music can be used in the Divisional Traditional Grand Championships;

  • Implementing “New Loss of Weapons Control Rule” (Attached);

  • The following techniques are being added and considered legal techniques that can now be used in Creative Weapons and Forms Divisions:  Forward Roll, Butterfly Kick, Illusion Kick, and Kip Up (these techniques will be graded as all other techniques are graded:  execution, power, balance, speed etc.);

  • 18+ Adult Weapons and Forms Traditional and CMX Divisional Grand Championships have been discontinued and a new runoff system for finals has been determined with prize money changes.

  • To be eligible to compete in an 18+ Overall Grand Championship in Weapons, Forms or Sparring a competitor must have won an 18+ Weapon, Form or Sparring division. Winners of all 18+ Adult Weapons and Forms Winners will compete in an elimination round during the day to see who will compete for the Overall Form and Overall Weapons Grand Championships in the Finals.


    A. Overview and Intent:

The Classical Kata (Traditional Challenge Divisions) will showcase the patterns of recognized Karate systems from Japan (Shotokan, Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Chito-Ryu) and Okinawa (Shorin-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu).

Competitors MUST perform a recognized unaltered/unmodified kata from one of the above systems and no additions or deletions of movements are allowed. School variations are permitted provided the movements maintain the structural integrity of the original kata.

Commentary: Unlike the Japanese/Okinawan division, competitors must only perform unmodified katas from Japanese or Okinawan Karate systems. Competitors who choose to alter/modify a classical working or add/delete moves are strongly encouraged to enter the WFM Japanese/Okinawan division as such changes to the kata will result in disqualification in the Traditional Challenge division.

    B. Specific Criteria

Although Okinawan and Japanese styles have many stylistic similarities, the following subtle differences must be observed:

Japanese styles (ie. Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Kyukoshinkai) generally have lower chamber, longer and wider stances (especially zenkutsu-dachi), horse stances with toes pointing parallel (kiba dachi), emphasis on use of back stance (or kokutsu dachi) and thrusting kicks with maximum height to the competitors own chin

Okinawan styles (ie. Shorin-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, Ryuei-Ryu) generally have higher chamber, higher and shorter stances (more use of natural stance and sanchin dachi), horse stances with toes pointing outward (shiko dachi), emphasis on use of cat stance (neko ashi dachi) and snap kicks with maximum height to the competitors own chest

Attire: Clean, all white traditional uniform.  Sleeve length must pass the elbows, uniform bottoms must be past (below) the knee in length.

Competitor must wear black belt.

   C. Officiating/Key Elements

Competitors will be judged/scored on focus (kime), proper execution of technique (punches, kicks, and stances), proper breathing and hip rotation.

Judges take into account and evaluate the competitor on: basic techniques, stances, punches, blocks and kicks executed with balance, strength and focus.  Eyes (Visual Expression of the Competitor), The Pace of the Kata, Breathing (Proper Exhalation), and focus of attention (chakugan).

The competitor must have an understanding of application (bunkai) and the criteria specific to the individual kata.


    Kiai – Minimum of two (2), Maximum of four (4)
    Kicks – Standing kicks must not go above the competitor’s shoulder
    Stances must not break parallel.

   D. Scoring/Officiating:

Five judges will be used. The highest and lowest scores of the five (5) judges will be dropped and the remaining three scores will be added together.

A scoring range of 9.90 to 9.99 will be used in the eliminations; a range of 9.96 to 10 will be used in the finals.

Seating in all four (4) corners, center referee located in the middle.

    E. Procedure

Draw: All Competitors will be shuffled to determine the order.  Center Judge is responsible for this task.

Time Limit: 4 minutes, the clock starts when competitor enters the ring.  The competitor will bow in and announce the name of the Kata only.  He or she will be recognized by the center judge and the kata may begin.

Officials Duties in Procedure:

One Official is designated to count the Kia, One official will watch for the height of the kick.  The Center Official (who is the highest most experienced rank) will raise a hand if the form is indeed traditional.

Upon approval, the judges will make notes on their board as to how they will score.

After seeing all the competitors, scoring begins for each competitor.

Competitors will line-up in the order they competed in to be scored.  Disqualified competitors receive no score.

    F. DQ (Disqualification):

    Doing a non-traditional form (altered or made up)
    Kia rule not followed (too many or not enough)
    Out of bounds
    Sportsmanship not adhered to
    Excessive stance violation


The list of katas below are the ones recognized by the WKF and JKF for the the four major styles of Japanese Karate (Goju, Shito, Wado and Shotokan) and the Okinawan Prefecture Karate Rengokai for the Okinawan styles (Goju, Shorin, Uechi, Isshin and Ryuei-Ryu).  Only the Katas listed below can be performed.  Style-specific alternate names are also indicated.

School variations are permitted.  However, alterations and modifications including (but not limited) to adding or deleting movements or altering the structure of the classical form are not permitted.

Bassai/Passai – Matsumura
Bassai/Passai – Tomari
Bassai/Passai Dai
Bassai/Passai Sho
Chinto – Tomari (Shotokan: Gankaku Sho)
Chinto (Shotokan: Gankaku)
Fukyu (all versions)
Gekisai 1 and 2
Gojushiho Dai
Gojushiho Sho
Kanku Dai (Shorin-Ryu Kusanku Dai or Shito-Ryu Kosokun Dai)
Kanku Sho (Shorin-Ryu Kusanku Sho or Shito-Ryu Kosokun Sho)
Kosokunshiho (Shito-Ryu)
Kusanku – Chatanyara
Nipaipo (Standard Shito Ryu version only) / Nijuhachiho (Shotokan)
Niseishi (Shotokan : Nijushiho)
Pinan / Heian 1 – 5
Sanseiru (Uechi-Ryu version)
Seisan (all versions)
Sochin (Shotokan and Shito-Ryu versions)
Sunsu (Isshin Ryu)
Taikyoku (all versions)
Tekki 1 – 3 (Okinawan: Naihanchi)
Unshu (Shito Ryu)
Unsu (Shotokan)
Wankan (Shotokan)
Wankan (Shito Ryu: Matsukaze)
Wansu (Shotokan : Empi)



The Relative Ranking Rule has replaced the old “score-as-you-go” system in all divisions at WFM tournaments.  Since all competitors run their forms before anyone is scored, this system eliminates the possible disadvantage early-running competitors were subject to, and the scoring advantage last-running seeds may have enjoyed.  In addition, it prevents judges from getting “boxed-in” by giving scores too high early on, and eliminates “scoring creep” where judges who starts with very low scores gradually raises his/her scores as the divisions progresses.


For the Relative Ranking Rule to operate properly, all judges must use the scoring worksheets provided in the ring boxes.  As each competitor runs their form, they are given a place number relative to the competitor who has already run.  For example, each judge gives the first competitor up a “1” next to his/her name on the worksheet.  The next competitor gets a “2” if their form isn’t as good; or if their form is better, they get a “1” and the first competitor get his “1”changed to a “2”.  The third competitor then gets a number that grades his form relative to the first two, and so on down the division.  When all competitors have run, each judge’s Worksheet will have all the competitor’s names listed in the order they ran, but with numbers next to their names that reflects their place relative to one another.


The Center Judge will then allow up to two minutes for the judges to assign decimal scores to each competitor based on their relative ranking.  Each judge decides how high to score his number “1” competitor – usually a 9.99 or 9.98 in the black belt divisions – and assigns that score to the top competitor.  The number “2” competitor will be scored one-hundredth lower at 9.98 or 9.97 (or even lower if the judge feels there was a great gap between the number “1” and number “2” competitors).    Number “3” will get a score at least one-hundredth lower than number “2, and number “4” will get a score at least one-hundredth lower than number “3”.  This is done until all the competitors are ranked relatively to each other.  None of the top four competitors ever receives the same score, and the top four scores a judge gives are only given once.  A judge may give the same score to competitors he/she has ranked as “5” or lower, though it is discouraged unless there are many competitors in the division and giving incrementally lower scores would take the lower-ranked competitors to scores that were undeservedly low.  (Judges may prefer to use slash marks rather than numbers to rank each competitor: I, II, III, IIII and so on. By using this method you do not have to mark out or erase as often, you only add slashes.)


Once all judges are ready, the Center Judge will have each competitor step forward as his or her scores are announced, using the Maximum Deviation Rule procedure listed above.



Divisions with three officials will use the Maximum Deviation Rule.  Since high and low scores are not dropped when three officials are used, the Maximum Deviation Rule has a similar effect of limiting the impact of a judge’s score that is significantly higher or lower than the other judge’s scores.  This prevents a single score form being so high or so low that it controls the placing order.


When a form or other performance is ready to be scored, the Chief Official will say “Ready”, then, “Check”, at which point the three judges show their score to each other only (not to the competitors or spectators).


The center judge will then look at the 3 scores to determine which one is the middle score (for example, a 9.92, 9.96 and a 9.95 – the 9.95 is the middle score.  The other 2 scores must be .02 from the middle score.  So in the example the 9.92 must be upgraded to 9.93.


Other than this mandatory adjustment, a judge may not change his score.  If no score is more than .02 higher or lower than the middle score, then there is no adjustment.  After assuring that any necessary adjustment has been, made, the Chief Official then says, “Score”, and the scores to the audience, the competitors, and the scorekeeper as usual.


WFM separates forms and weapons competition into following four categories:

1. Traditional

These forms must capture the essence of classic martial arts movements, displaying the traditional techniques, stances, footwork, and weapons.  Emphasis is placed on execution of technique, application of technique, balance, speed, power, solid stances, and focus. Forms may be unmodified or modified from what a system or school considers to be the original version of the form; however, performance of the following movements will result in a downgrade of the form, or upon unanimous vote of the judges, a “no score” as a form inappropriate for the division: Movements that involve more than a 360 degree spin, require the body to be inverted more than parallel to the floor, more than two kicks with the same leg without putting the foot down in between; front or back flips; cartwheels; front or side leg splits; releases of the weapon other than simple hand switches; or any other gymnastic movements or extreme exhibitions of flexibility or agility with the body or weapon that are deemed in the opinion of the judges to be inappropriate for the division pursuant to the general guidelines set forth here. (**Forward Roll is a legal Traditional Technique.)

Commentary:  There has been a great deal of debate among reputable martial artists regarding whether a form or series of moves are outside of the bounds of the Traditional Division.  Because WFM is a tournament circuit open to all styles and schools (across the nation and around the world) and from which judges are utilized, each competitor must make his or her own decision regarding whether to include movements, which might be to be objectionable for the Traditional Division.  Just like the extreme and creative competitors, the traditional competitors will try to extend the base of the rules that govern the traditional divisions to gain an advantage over their competition.  If there is something performed in a traditional from or weapon division that is not covered by the above rules, the WFM Rules Official/s will make the decisions if a technique is a legal or illegal move.
2. Creative Forms and Weapons

The Creative Division allows forms to include contemporary martial arts techniques that have evolved over the last 30 years.  These may be added to a traditional form, or the form may be devised in its entirety by the competitor.  The Creative Division was formerly known as the Open and before that the American Division.  A form in the Creative Division must ONLY include techniques which originate from martial arts and like the Traditional Division, emphasis will be placed on execution of the techniques, application of the techniques, balance, speed, power, solid stances, and focus   Spinning kicks, jump spinning kicks, flying kicks, multiple kicks, splits, weapon twirls, weapon releases, and other creative martial arts techniques are permitted.  Movements that involve more than a 360 degree spin, require the body to be inverted more than parallel to the floor, or are similar to movements found in gymnastics and/or non martial arts disciplines, or forms that meet the above definition of strictly traditional forms, will result in a downgrade by the judges or, upon a unanimous vote of the judges, a “no score” as a form inappropriate for the division.  Although one creative move qualifies a competitor for the creative divisions, it should be expected that an creative form or weapon routine with multiple creative moves of good quality would prevail as the winner, assuming all other criteria is met.

New:  The following are techniques that are legal in the Creative form/weapon divisions: Butterfly Kick, Illusion Kick, Forward Roll and Kip Up. They will be scored as any other techniques:  power, speed, balance and proper execution.

Commentary:   The Creative Division is intended for those competitors who do not wish to compete with a strictly traditional form, and/or do not wish to compete against other participants who execute extreme gymnastic-type movements.  Over the past several years, it was often observed that judging these “creative” forms in the same division with forms including extreme martial arts “tricks” was essentially comparing apples and oranges, and to be more fair to the participants these divisions should be separated.  WFM has therefore created a separate “Extreme Division”, as detailed below, separate and distinct from the Creative Division, thus allowing the Creative Division to include only those forms with movements that originate more inherently from the classic martial arts systems.

Regarding the Creative Weapons Divisions,  it is important to note that any particular weapons movement  shall NOT be a factor in determining whether the weapons form constitutes a Creative or Extreme Form.  The determining factor shall be the particular body movements as defined below in the Extreme Divisions.  Consequently, a Creative Weapons competitor is permitted to perform any weapons move (i.e., twirls, releases, spins, etc.), but is not permitted to perform “Extreme” body movements (i.e., flips, 540 and above spins or any inverted body moves, etc.).

3. Extreme

The Extreme Divisions allow the competitor to perform any movements whether they originate from traditional or contemporary martial arts systems or otherwise.  However, (1) at least half of the form must originate from martial arts techniques, and (2) the competitor must execute at least one technique that involves an inverted move or greater than 360 degree spin.  Emphasis is placed on the quality of execution of techniques and movements, martial arts skills, balance, speed, power, degree of difficulty, and showmanship.  In addition, only those movements that portray a definite offensive or defensive martial arts purpose, or are included to illustrate extreme flexibility or agility, are allowed.  Inclusion of other movements, or the performance of a form or weapons form meeting the criteria above for a Traditional or Creative form, will result in a down grade by the judges, or upon a unanimous vote of the judges, a “no score” as a form inappropriate for the division.  Although one extreme move qualifies a competitor for the extreme divisions, it should be expected that an extreme form or weapon routine with multiple extreme moves of good quality would prevail as the winner, assuming all other criteria is met.

Commentary:  As martial arts evolves from the Traditional to Creative to Extreme, this category allows for the integration of techniques and movements from all martial art styles, gymnastics, acrobatics, dance, and athletic disciplines. If a competitor wishes to participate in a division with moves not permitted in the Traditional and Creative Divisions but meeting the guidelines described here, the competitor should compete in the Extreme Division.

4. Musical

The Musical Divisions requires a empty hand form or weapons form to meet all the above criteria for a Traditional, Creative, and Extreme form, and additionally meet the requirements of the “Divisional Music Rule” below.

New “Divisional Music Rule”:  Music Choreography should be judged as follows:

1) The movements of the form must be accented by and performed in conjunction with specific beats, notes, or words in the music.  Simply performing your form to the same rhythm or cadence of a song is not satisfactory.

2) If sound effects are added to the music, the form should not solely be choreographed to the added sound effects.

3) Music and sound effects should appropriately match each other, and set the overall mood for each performance.

4) Overall, all music, and sound effects used, must compliment the form, and both the form and music should be judged together and viewed as an overall performance, not simply as a form performed with music playing.

Each competitor must provide a music player of reasonable and non-intrusive size at ringside to play his or her music, and an attendant at the player who must be present at all times during the performance (unless it is advertised that music players will be supplied).  As each form begins, a music volume check must be made, during which time the player attendant will look to the center judge for a nod of approval or a signal to lower the volume.  Once this volume is set, it may not be increased during the performance of the form.

Commentary:  If a competitor chooses to use music in a grand championship division to a form that does not require music, the “Divisional Music Rule” does not apply.

Commentary:  If a competitor receives a “no score” decision by the judges because they feel the competitor’s form is not appropriate for the division, the competitor is not allowed to redo his/her form or weapon form in that division.  It is the responsibility of the competitor to read and understand the rules of the division he/she is competing in before competition starts.  


Grand Championships and Over-All Grand Championships:

All competitors must compete in any Grand Championship and/or Over-All Grand Championship with the style of form or weapons (not exact form or weapon) they won with in their division (example:  a winner of a creative form cannot compete with an extreme form in the grand championships) If a competitor wins more than one division, they have the option to select the style of form or weapon of the divisions they won.

All competitors may still use music in all “Overall Weapons and Forms Grand Championships and Runoffs” but in Divisional Weapons and Form Grand Championships, music may only be used by competitors in the CMX Divisional Grand Championships (this includes creative and extreme winners). To Compete in an 18+ Divisional Grand Championships, Overall Grand Championships and/or Runoff in Form, Weapons and/or Sparring, a competitor must have won an 18+ Division.




3-Man Team Fighting and 2-Women Team Fighting:


  1. A flip of a coin will determine who sends out the first fighter.  The winner of the coin flip can decide to send out the first fighter or have the other team send out first.

  2. All matches are 90 seconds long.

  3. The fighter who earns 10 points spread or is ahead at the end of 90 seconds is declared the winner in the first two matches (first match only in 2-Women Teams).  If either or both of the first two matches end in a tie, they remain tied.  No run-off of ties in the first two matches.

  4. The final match will be a total point match using the full 90 seconds.

  5. The team with the most accumulative points wins.

  6. If at the end of the final match the accumulative score is a tie, the final match continues using the sudden victory rule (first fighter to score wins).

  7. All regular light touch point calling rules will apply with the following exceptions:

-- If a player goes out of bounds for any reason (both feet out) the other fighters receives a point.   It is not allowed to push or shove a fighter out of bounds.  Warnings and/or penalties can be called for pushing and/or shoving an opponent (Bad sportsmanship rule).

--If a player goes down (NFL rule:  if a fighter touches the grown with any part of their body except for the bottom of their feet or one hand, they are down) the other fighter receives a point.  If a fighter has a hand on the ground, both fighters can still score because he/she is consider an upright fighter.

Example:  An upright fighter can score 4 points on one technique exchange if they score with a kick, while knocking their opponent out of bounds and down to the ground.

--Any disqualified fighter of a match loses all points earned in that match.  The match will be declared a 7-0 match for the non-disqualified fighter.  If a fighter is disqualified in the final match, his/her team cannot win.  The opposing team will be automatically declared the winner.



Team Synchronized Form:


  1. 2 – 5 Members

  2. 4 Minute Maximum Time Limit – Time starts when the first team member steps into the competition ring and ends when the team is obviously finished in the opinion of the Center Official.

  3. Empty Hand Forms, Weapons Forms or combinations of both are legal

  4. All the technical Martial Arts skills are graded for execution, presentation and difficulty

  5. Team: Group organized to function cooperatively in a joint effort

  6. Synchronized:  Working at same time or rate/ Go together or happen at the same time/ Working in unison/ Use of Techniques in a Domino effect

  7. Synchronize Team Form:  Synchronize Team Form will be graded on how well a team is working in a cooperative joint effort with the majority of techniques being executed together, at the same time, in unison and/or in a domino sequence effect.


Team Demonstration:


  1. 2 – 10 Members

  2. 4 Minute Maximum Time Limit – Time starts when the first team member steps into the competition ring and ends when the team is obviously finished in the opinion of the Center Official

  3. All the technical Martial Arts skills are graded for execution, presentation and difficulty

  4. Team Demonstration is given more liberties and freedoms to exhibit one or a combination of Martial Arts Skills.   Synchronization may or may not be a part of team demonstration.


Props that are considered dangerous or harmful to people and/or to any part of the competition area or that will cause major clean up time will not be allowed.  All teams are responsible for their own clean up.  If a team has any question about their Team Synchronize Form or Team Demonstration, they should ask the Center Official before competition starts.

World Federation of Elite Martial Arts                                                      877-4-WE-KICK



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