Tournament Rules

General Tournament Rules – see Director for minor variations. Click the Gold Categories to view rules.

Rules for all PKC Sanctioned Events -Rules apply to each Region

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General Rules

  1. All competitors must wear a clean regulation karate, kung fu, or tae-kwon-do uniform. The PKC defines regulation uniform as sleeves that cover the elbows and pants that cover the knees.
  2. Spectators are not allowed on the competition floor at any time. Only competitors whose division is being ran and working personnel are allowed on the competition floor.
  3. During the course of competition no one can talk to a judge or referee except to lodge an official protest. Violation of this rule may result in the awarding of a penalty point.
  4. Center referees should be currently certified PKC referees. The referee certification chairperson will provide a list of current PKC referees at each tournament. Black belts only will officiate in divisions containing black belt competitors. Certified brown belts may judge (but not center) in divisions containing other brown belts but no black belts. Certified officials between the ages of 13 and 17 may judge divisions containing all youth competitors.
  5. An official may not at any time officiate for his or her child, spouse, or significant other.
  6. If there is a division provided for a competitor, the competitor must compete in that division. A competitor found competing in the wrong division will be disqualified. In order to receive points in any division with only one competitor that competitor must have registered before the deadline, be in uniform at the appropriate ring, and ready to compete when the division is called. If a competitor chooses not to compete because of Jack of competition he/she will be entitled to a refund, but no award or points will be awarded.
  7. In the event a child’s age is challenged the parent or guardian shall produce a birth certificate to establish the child’s age.
  8. Unsportsmanlike conduct will result in disqualification. A competitor may be disqualified if a parent, instructor, or fellow student exhibits unsportsmanlike conduct. A disqualified competitor will receive no points and no award. A person disqualified for this reason will not be allowed to continue into another round of competition. Competitors, parents, or coaches who display disrespectful behavior may result in a warning given by the center judge. Continued disrespectful behavior may result in a one tournament suspension given by an arbitrator or tournament promoter. Continued disrespectful behavior upon return from suspension may result in expulsion from the tournament circuit.
  9. A person who is not enrolled in a karate school may not participate in any phase of PKC competition.
  10. All PKC sanctioned state tournaments at this time will receive full national PKC points as follows: 1st – 15 pts, 2nd – 10 pts, 3rd – 5 pts, 4th -3 pts.
  11. All PKC sanctioned tournaments will use square rings for competition. Rings will be no less that 16’x16′ nor more than 22’x22′. Recommended ring size is 20’x20′. Elevated rings shall be no more than three (3) above the floor surface and must have no less than four (4) feet between the out of bounds line and the edge of the elevated floor surface. This rule does not apply to regulation size boxing rings. Two parallel lines will be placed in the center of the ring two (2) feet in length and nine (9) feet apart as starting points.
  12. In lodging a protest a player, parent, or instructor must respectfully get the attention of the center referee and state the rule violation being protested. Protests are only allowed when a rule has been violated. A judgment call may not be protested. Center referees will respect all protests and may want to summon an arbitrator.
  13. The center referee is responsible for insuring all score sheets are properly completed prior to awards being given out. The official will then be assigned to another ring by the tournament coordinator. When a volunteer scorekeeper is related to a competitor they should be identified to the center referee.
  14. A competitor may request the removal of one official before the division begins.
  15. Registration deadline is 1:30 pm.
  16. All martial artists below the rank of 5tn degree black belt must wear their uniform in order to judge or referee. All brown and black belt ranks will be required to officiate. Individuals below the rank of 5rh Dan who attend a tournament without their uniform will be required to pay the adult admission fee. Individuals who are 5rh Dan and above will have their names forwarded to the coordinator for ring assignment. If not willing to accept the ring assignment they will be required to pay the adult admission fee. Should an individual be used as an official without a uniform the coordinator will ask the individual be reimbursed the admission fee.
  17. In the event a dispute cannot be resolved a division may be ran over again.
  18. No tournament will begin without the presence of trained and certified medical personnel. Only certified medical personnel may administer first aid to an injured competitor. Medical personnel will remain at the event until its conclusion.
  19. When, in the opinion of the PKC promoters and director, it is necessary for the safety of competitors these rules may be amended temporarily.


  1. The lowest score in all divisions will be 7.00. Average score will be 8.50. In kata and weapons divisions judges will add to or deduct from the average score based upon the following criteria; power, balance, focus, execution, concentration and control. Kata will be judged on the performance of the competitor and not upon any judge’s system or the manner in which he/she thinks it should be performed. Judges in weapons divisions will take into consideration the degree of difficulty of the weapons. In self-defense divisions the criteria will be; realism, balance, technique, power, and control
  2. There will be five judges in all adult black belt divisions. To determine a competitor’s score the highest and lowest score will be eliminated and the remaining scores will be added. When there is a shortage of judges and it is necessary for the expediency of the tournament three judges may be used for kata, weapons and demo divisions below adult black belts. No division will receive regional or national points unless judged by a minimum of three (3) judges. Under this circumstance neither the high score nor low score will be eliminated to determine the winners. A competitor who forgets their kata may ask to restart one time, but will have a deduction of .300 (3/10) of their score by each official.
  3. In the event of a tie (two or more competitors score the same) the low score will be added back into the total. If a tie still exists the high score will be added back into the total. If a winner is still not determined the competitors will run again. A competitor may run the kata of his or her choice. Competitors will be judged only on the second performance for an award. All competitors must be scored again.
  4. All competitors in a division will bow-in and bow-out in a line together. The center referee will sit at the front center of the competition area with the remaining judges sitting at the corners of the competition area. Competitors will introduce themselves by stating a minimum of their name and the name of the kata. Although discouraged, other information provided by the competitor will not result in lower scores by the officials. At the conclusion of a division competitors will be dismissed and excessive handshaking or thanking of the judges will be discouraged.
  5. There will be no practicing of weapons on the competition floor or any other crowded area before, during, or after the tournament.
  6. In weapons kata the center referee is responsible for checking the condition of weapons to insure the safety of everyone involved.
  7. If a competitor drops his or her weapon they may ask to start over but will have a .300 (3/10) point deduction of their score by each official.
  8. All competitors and attackers in self-defense divisions will wear approved protective headgear. If an attacker uses a weapon in a self-defense division the competitor may not turn the weapon on the attacker. There will be a two (2) minute time limit in the self-defense/demo/musical divisions, kept by the timekeeper. If the performance exceeds the time limit the scorekeeper will inform the center judge and deduct a 3.00 (3110) point deduction from their total score.
  9. Scorekeepers will write the word “closed” at the bottom of the score sheet as soon as the division has begun. Any competitor who arrives once a division has begun will be considered late. Late entries will be added to the bottom of the competitor listing with the word “late” written by their name. Late entries will receive a .300 (3/10) point deduction from their total score from the scorekeeper.
  10. Care should be taken to insure there are not a majority of judges from one school or dojo on any judging board.


  1. Safety equipment is required in all divisions. Approved soft foam head, foot, and hand gear, mouthpiece and groin cup (males only) are required. Ringstar shoes are approved safety equipment. Recommended equipment-soft shin pads and rib guards. Hand pads must cover the wrists and fingers in one single piece. Any equipment with excessive tape, or that the center referee deems unsafe shall not be used.
  2. An official may at no time judge or referee for his/her own student.
  3. Jewelry or other objects that may endanger a competitor may not be worn. Medical ID tags may be worn.
  4. No Kumite match will begin without the presence of trained and certified medical personnel. Only certified medical personnel may administer first aid to an injured competitor.
  5. All matches will be two minutes running time. Time will only be stopped by the center referee when necessary.
  6. All scoring techniques will receive one (1) point.
  7. Tournament matches in all divisions will be five points. The winner will be declared when a competitor reaches five points or time is called.
  8. If there is a tie when time is called a ‘sudden victory’ overtime will determine the winner. The first competitor to score a point wins.
  9. To score a point techniques must be focused, snapped, controlled and with proper balance. Open hand back fists will not score. Slapping techniques to the head or body will not score.
    NO SEE- Hand in front of the eyes
    NO POINT-Cross arms
    CLASS – Put both fists together
    POINT- Point to the person getting the point (or raise flag) PENALTY POINT- Same as point
    CONTACT POINT- Fist in hand pointing towards person who was hit (or raising the flag of person who was hit with fist in hand)
    EXCESSIVE CONTACT- Fist in hand pointing toward person who was hit while circling (or raising flag of person who was bit with fist in band while circling)
  11. If a comer judge mistakenly makes the wrong call he may retract his call but not make another call prior to the match beginning again.
    Head- light contact in all divisions
    Face -No contact is allowed in divisions below adult brown/black belt.
    Chest, ribcage, abdominal area, kidney- Light to moderate contact must be made to score.
    Groin – Light to moderate contact in all divisions, youth and adult.
  13. The center referee can call a penalty point for contact without verification from the corner judges.
  14. Light contact means no penetration or visible movement by the opponent struck.
  15. Moderate contact means slight penetration or slight movement of the target. Moderate contact to the body is allowed in all divisions. Moderate contact to the face shield is not allowed and will result in a penalty point being awarded.
  16. Excessive contact means an uncontrolled technique. Any technique to the head causing the head to snap in any direction or that drives the opponent’s head away by the impact of the technique excessive. The penalty for excessive contact is disqualification. An excessive contact foul overrides all other calls, regardless of the sequences of the infractions.
  17. When a face shield is worn, contact will only be called when contact is made to the front center the shield. Competitors will not be penalized for contacting the headgear and a point will be awarded when contact to the headgear is made within the parameters already defined within the Indiana PKC rules.
  18. Swelling, redness or bleeding caused by a punch, kick or any aggressive act by a competitor will result in disqualification of the competitor responsible for the contact. If a competitor is knocked unconscious by a technique the medical technician must examine him or her immediately. A competitor who is knocked unconscious cannot continue to fight. If, in the opinion of the official: and the medical personnel, it may be unsafe for the competitor to continue, that competitor will not be allowed to continue in any sparring for that day. The competitor who executed the technique will be disqualified for excessive contact from that match but may go on to fight in subsequent matches. The medical technician will make the final decision on a competitor’s ability to continue a match. In the event of possible excessive contact the referee should stop time for a minimum of twenty seconds and observe the competitor for possible swelling or bleeding. On a judgment has been made under these circumstances it cannot be reversed later.
  19. Grabbing the uniform or trapping a kick is allowed to facilitate scoring. Scoring must occur within 3 seconds.
  20. Ground fighting. Either competitor may score within 3 seconds. Stomps to the body are allowed as long as one foot remains solidly on the ground. Stomps to the head are not allowed.
  21. Out of bounds. Any time a competitor touches the out of bounds line and or steps out of bound point will be awarded to the opponent, provided  he is not pushed, shoved, propelled, or fighting out of the ring.
  22. Sweeps are allowed to the back of the front leg (boot to boot contact). No takedowns, rear leg sweeps or leg checking is allowed.
  23. Every verified rules infraction will result in a point awarded to the opponent. This excludes those rule infractions that are considered flagrant and result in disqualification such as excessive contact.
  24. The following are illegal techniques; head butts, swinging techniques, hair pulling, biting, scratching, knees, elbows, throws, base leg sweeps (except for black belt adults), stomps to the head, jumping on a downed opponent, kicks to the legs, blind techniques, open hand technique to the eyes, striking to the spine, back of neck or throat, falling to the floor to avoid contact, pushing, running out of bounds, faking an injury.
  25. Second punching. Executing a technique after the center referee has said stop will result in a point given to the opponent whether the infraction takes place in or out of bounds.
  26. Coaching during a match is a rules infraction and may result in a point being given to the offending competitor’s opponent. Coaching is defined as verbal or non-verbal instructions to a competitor during a match.
  27. Pairings and byes will be made randomly before the first round of competition. The center referee, coordinator or scorekeeper will pair competitor cards randomly. In the event members • the same school are paired, cards will be switched with the last match of that round whenever possible.
  28. Late entry. Once a division has started there will be no late entries.
  29. The “Louisiana Bye” system will be used in Kumite divisions of only three people. Explanation:  A bye is determined. The two remaining competitors fight. The loser of that fight will then fight the competitor assigned the bye. If the loser of the first match also loses his second match he w: receive third place. If he wins he will receive second place. The competitor assigned the bye will only fight for first and second if he wins his match with the loser of the first fight. Otherwise he the third place winner. Care should be taken to insure competitors from the same school are not matched whenever possible.
  30. The center referee may issue a penalty point for any rule infraction or disqualification for excessive contact or unsportsmanlike conduct without verification from the corner judges. The center referee’s call for a rule infraction overrides calls made by a corner judge. The center referee will be positioned so the timekeeper and scorekeeper are highly visible to him or her. The center referee is responsible for knowing the location of the medical technicians. The center referee must be loud and clear when making calls to insure the scorekeeper properly records the score.
  31. Exhibition matches will not be allowed.
  32. All competitors will be required to weigh-in if requested and disqualified if found competing in the wrong division.

Chanbara(padded weapons sparring)

  1. All matches will be two minutes running time in duration or the first competitor to score five (5) points.
  2. Both competitors must use the same size padded weapon providing it is from an approved manufacturer and of sufficient quality for use, or use the padded weapons provided by the promoter.
  3. Mandatory safety equipment includes head protection which provides eye, ear, and face protection (i.e. face shield) and protective groin cups for males. Other approved protective equipment may be worn by competitors.
  4. Target areas include the head and face, the neck and shoulders, the area from the shoulders to the fingers, the trunk of the body, chest and stomach, and the area from the hips to the feet.
  5. Requirements for an effective score shall be proper form, control, speed, attitude, correct distance, and proper timing. All proper scoring techniques shall receive one point.
  6. In order for a stabbing motion to receive a point the padded weapon must bend.
  7. Prohibited acts which result in a penalty point being awarded to your opponent include; any deliberate attempt to hit an opponent with excessive contact, any disregard for competitor safety such as striking with the handle of, the weapon, grabbing an opponent’s weapon to keep him/her from making an attack, and going out of bounds without being pushed, shoved or propelled out.
  8. If a competitor drops his or her weapon his or her opponent will be awarded one point.
  9. Unsportsmanlike conduct will result in disqualification just as in every other phase of competition.
  10. All other PKC tournament rules apply in Chanbara divisions.

11 thoughts on “Tournament Rules

  1. Hi, I was wondering if there were any more rules towards the creative and musical forms/weapons divisions. And if so could those be emailed to me please. Thank you in advance!

  2. I am wanting an official copy of PKC rule book for at least kata and kumite. My daughter is asking Santa for it for Christmas lol I try to get what she asks Santa for please mail me one. 700 N. Eastwood Ave. Muncie, IN 47303

  3. There’s a kid that spars (kumite) in my sons division. The kid showed another kid in his novice division his black belts. My question is, is there any way that a judge can notice the difference between a novice student and a intermediate student? My son shouldn’t get hurt because there are parents and instructors that think an award is more important than competing at a higher level.

    • When you have questions about your experiences at specific events, you should immediately seek out the tournament arbitrator. Every tournament has an arbitrator to address all tournament competition concerns.

  4. For the Team Forms competition at the PKC International Tournament, over the Labor Day weekend, are the competitors allowed to do weapons katas, or are only empty hand katas allowed?

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