All-Ireland Karate Intervarsity Championship Rules


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Kumite Competition


Both  individual  and team matches  (defined as a competitive  fight between two opponents)  are run on a knock-out basis.  All matches are decided according  to “Shobu Ippon”, in which participants try to score one full point (Ippon) or two half points (Waza-aris) before their opponent within the permitted time.

The criteria for deciding the winner of an individual match, in order of application, are as follows:

1.   The first person to reach Ippon

2.   The person who has the greater score at the time-up signal

3.   Hantei (winner by judge’s decision)

4.   Encho-Sen (winner according to 1, 2 or 3 in order, after extra time)

5.   Hansoku, Shikkaku or Kiken given against an opponent

Match Duration

The duration of a match shall be 2 minutes of effective fighting time.

Where  Hantei is  called for in  an individual match  and the decision of the  referee panel deems the bout to be a draw (Hikiwake), an extension of the bout (Encho-Sen) will take place.

Match Extension (Encho-Sen)

The extension will be decided on a first to score basis (sudden death) or if a penalty is awarded against one of the competitors.

If  no competitor  has scored and  no penalties have  been levied by the  end of the extended period, the referee panel must make a decision on the winner based on the entire fighting period (standard time and the extension period).

If the decision of the referee panel deems the bout to be a draw, another extension of the bout will take place as described above. This continues until a winner is found.

Team Specific Rules

The number of persons comprising a team is 3.

Before a team competes in a competition round, a team representative must provide to  the official table, the names of all team members and the order in which those team members will present.

Once the official table has received the list of team members and the order they are to fight in, no changes can be made.

However, should that team compete in another round of the same competition, the fighting order can be changed for that subsequent round.

The winning team shall be decided based on the outcomes of the individual matches.

The criteria for deciding the winning team, in order of application, are as follows:

 1. The number of wins

 2. The number of ippons and waza- aris (total score) for each team

 3. The number of penalties (“Chui”) against each team

 4. Extra matches



 The following scores can be awarded:

  •  Ippon (one full point)
  •  Waza-ari (one half point)

 The scoring areas are limited to the following:

  •   Head
  •   Neck (senior competition only)
  •   Chest
  •   Abdomen
  •   Sides
  •   Back (excluding shoulders)

An effective technique delivered at the same time that the end of the bout is signalled by the timekeeper is considered valid. 

A technique, even if effective, delivered after an order by the referee to suspend or stop the bout shall not be scored and may result in a penalty being imposed on the offender.

No technique, even if effective, will be scored if it is delivered when the two contestants are outside the competition area.

If the competitors leave the competition area and one of the competitors  has delivered an effective technique while still inside the competition area and before the referee calls to stop the bout, the technique will be scored.

Awarding a Score

A score is awarded when a scoring technique is performed to a scoring area and it fulfils all of the following criteria:

  • Good  form (a  technique with  probable effectiveness  within the framework of traditional Karate concepts)
  • Correct  attitude (a  non-malicious sense  of performing within  the framework of traditional Karate concepts)
  • Strong   vigor (power,   speed and controlled   delivery of technique with   the purpose of succeeding)
  • Zanshin (a continued state of awareness and commitment).
  • Proper timing (carrying out a technique at the optimal moment in time to achieve the greatest result)
  • Correct distance


 An Ippon may be awarded when the following criteria are met:

  • When  delivered  to a scoring  area at the same  time as an opponent  begins to attack.
  • When delivered to a scoring area immediately as the opponent is unbalanced or thrown by the attacker.
  • When a combination of successive and effective techniques (each of which merit a score in their own right), are delivered to the scoring area(s).
  • When the opponent loses their fighting spirit and turns away from the attacker.
  • When delivered to a scoring area on the opponent that is clearly undefended.


 A Waza-ari is awarded for a technique almost comparable and only slightly deficient to the standard required to score an Ippon. A referee should always look for the full requirements  for an Ippon in the first instance and only award a Waza-ari in the second instance.

Definitions of Criteria

Good  form  refers  to a technique  having the characteristics  conferring probable effectiveness within the framework of traditional Karate concepts.

Sporting  attitude is  a component  of good form  and refers to a  non-malicious attitude of great concentration obvious during delivery of the scoring technique.

Vigorous  application  defines  the power  and speed of  the technique and  the palpable will for it to succeed.

Zanshin is the state of  continued commitment  in which the competitor  maintains total concentration,  observation, and awareness of the  opponent’s potentiality to counter-attack. The competitor does not turn their face away during delivery of the technique, and remains facing the opponent afterwards.

Good timing means delivering a technique when it will have the greatest potential effect.

Correct  distance means  delivering  a completed  technique sufficiently  close to a scoring area  in order for it to be considered  a score. A punch or kick that comes somewhere between skin touch and 5 centimetres from the head or neck may be said to have the correct distance.  In junior competition (as determined by the referee panel), this distance is extended to 10 centimetres. In junior categories, all techniques must be completed within the range of 10cm from and, at most, very light skin touch to the target. In all categories, the scoring distance for jodan-level kicks is increased to up to 10 centimetres away from the target.

Clarification Points


  • Techniques which land below the belt will not score.
  • In   senior   competition   only, the neck   is a permitted target   area. However, absolutely no contact to the neck is permitted. A score may be awarded for a properly controlled technique to the neck which does not touch.
  • Open handed techniques to the face are forbidden.
  • If two contestants hit each other at the exact same time, the scoring criterion of “good timing” has, by definition, not been met, and the correct judgment is to not award a point.
  • If a contestant scores with more than one consecutive technique before the bout has been stopped, the contestant will be awarded the successful scoring technique of  the higher point value, regardless of the sequence in which the techniques scored.

Throwing and Sweeping Techniques

Throwing and sweeping techniques are divided into two types:

(1)  The established   “conventional” karate   leg sweeping techniques   where the opponent is swept  off balance or thrown without  being grabbed first. These techniques are permitted.

(2) Throws where the opponent is grabbed or held as the throw is executed. In this case, the pivotal point of the throw must not be above the thrower’s belt level and the opponent must be held onto throughout, so that a safe landing can be made.  Over the shoulder throws such are expressly  forbidden, as are so-called “sacrifice” throws such  as tomoe nage, sumi gaeshi etc. It is also forbidden to grab the opponent below the waist and lift and throw them or to reach down to pull the legs from under them. If a contestant is injured as a result of a throwing technique, the referee panel will make a decision regarding any penalty that may apply.

After a sweep occurs, the competitors have two seconds in which to attempt a scoring technique.

When  a contestant  is thrown according  to the rules, or is  otherwise knocked off balance and is scored upon by the opponent within two seconds, that score will be an ippon.

 Required Equipment

1. Whistles – one per Head Judge

2. Red and white flags – a pair for each Judge

3. A stopwatch

4. A bell

5. A score sheet indicating scored points and various warnings

6. Red bands of cloth/red belts to differentiate the competitors – the dimensions of this red band of cloth worn around the waist should not hinder the match in any way

7. Coloured tape to prepare the court


Kata Competition


Kata competitors will be expected to perform both compulsory and free selection (kata of their choice) kata during the competition.

The  Chief  Referee,  who will sit  at the perimeter  of the competition  area facing the contestant(s), will determine which kata the competitor must perform.

All competitors are expected to know up to and including the highest mandatory kata that was required for their last grading (their current belt).

Kata  competition  will be run  on either a flag-based  elimination system or points based system (depending on the number of competitors) for early rounds. The semi- final and final rounds are always run on a points based system.

The team kata competition consists of teams of three persons.

Assessment of Kata Performance

Kata must be performed with competence and must demonstrate an understanding of the traditional principles it contains.  In assessing the performance of a kata, the following will be examined:

  1. A realistic demonstration of the kata applications. 
  2. Understanding of the techniques being used.
  3. Good timing, rhythm, speed, balance, and focus of power (kime).
  4. Correct and proper use of breathing.
  5. Correct focus of attention and concentration.
  6. Correct stances with proper tension in the legs, and feet flat on the floor. Proper tension in the abdomen.
  7. Correct positioning of the centre of gravity throughout the kata.
  8. Correct form of the style being demonstrated.

A contestant who varies the fundamentals of the kata, who comes to a halt during the performance of the kata, or who performs a kata different from that announced will have  significant penalty applied to their score or standing in relation to their opponent.

In  team  kata competition,  synchronisation of the  team members is an important assessment  criterion. Synchronisation should be achieved without the use of any external cues (the use of which will be penalised).

Prohibited Behaviour


All competitors must perform all techniques with control and good form.

Trained  adult competitors  can absorb relatively  powerful blows on muscled  areas such as the abdomen, but the fact remains that the head, neck, groin and joints are particularly susceptible to injury.

Particular  care must be  exercised in junior  categories with regard  to force and control.

Category 1 Infringements

  • Techniques which make excessive contact, having regard to the scoring area attacked, and techniques which make contact with the throat.
  • Attacks to the arms or legs, groin, joints, or instep.
  • Attacks to the face with open hand techniques.
  • Dangerous throwing techniques.

Category 2 Infringements

  • Feigning, or exaggerating injury.
  • Exit from the competition area (Jogai*) not caused by the opponent.
  • Self-endangerment  by indulging in behaviour  which exposes the competitor  to the potential for injury by the opponent, or failing to take adequate measures for self-protection (Muobi).
  • Avoiding  combat as a means of preventing the opponent having the opportunity to score.
  • Passivity – not attempting to engage in combat.
  • Clinching, wrestling, pushing, seizing or standing chest to chest, without attempting a throw or other technique.
  • Techniques  which, by their  nature, cannot be  controlled for the safety  of the opponent
  • Dangerous and uncontrolled attacks.
  • Simulated attacks with the head, knees, or elbows.
  • Talking to or goading the opponent
  • Failing to obey the orders of the Chief Referee
  • Discourteous behaviour towards any officials
  • Other breaches of the rules, as determined by the Chief Referee.

*Jogai  refers to  the situation  where a competitor’s  foot, or any other part  of their body, touches the floor outside of the match area. An exception to this is when the contestant is physically pushed or thrown from the area by the opponent.

**It is important to understand that “Avoiding Combat” refers to a situation where a competitor  attempts to prevent the opponent having the opportunity to score by using time-wasting   behaviour. The contestant who constantly retreats without effective counter, who holds,  clinches, or exits the area rather than allow the opponent an opportunity to score must be warned or penalised.

Any  competitor  who does not  compete with due  regard for their fellow competitors will not  be tolerated and may be disqualified. The decision of the Chief Referee in this regard is final.

Warnings and Penalties


Atenai: Private Warning, this is imposed for the first minor infraction of the Rules and carries no penalty.

Keikoku: is normally imposed where another competitor’s potential for winning is deemed to be slightly diminished by the opponent’s foul.

Chui: Official Warning, this is imposed for a more serious infraction of the rules for which Keikoku has already been given, or for an infraction of the rules that does not warrant a penalty.


There  are two  degrees of  penalty: Hansoku  and Skikkaku, both  resulting in the competitor being disqualified (from the bout and tournament respectively).

Hansoku: Disqualification (penalty) imposed for a serious infraction of the rules for which Keikoku or Chui may have already been given, or for a very serious infraction of the rules such as failing to obey the commands of the referee, for bringing the honour and prestige of karate-do into disrepute or when a contestant becomes over- excited and the Referee considers them to be a danger to their opponent.

In addition, it is sufficient if the coach or non-combatant members of the contestants’ delegation behave in such a way as to harm the prestige and honour of karate-do.

Shikkaku:  Disqualification (penalty) from the entire competition. This may be imposed  for malicious acts, for failing to obey the commands of the referee,  for bringing the honour and prestige of karate-do into disrepute or when other acts are considered to violate the rules and the spirit of the tournament.

In addition, it is sufficient if the coach or non-combatant members of the contestants’ delegation behave in such a way as to harm the prestige and honour of karate-do.

Other Notes about Warnings and Penalties

Once a warning is given, repeats of that category of infraction must be accompanied by an increase in the severity of warning and penalty imposed. It is not, for example, possible to give a warning or penalty for excessive contact then give another warning of the same degree for a second instance of excessive contact.

Competition Specific Information


For the purposes of this competition, the following definitions apply:

Junior Category refers to all categories consisting of competitors from 10th  to 8th

Kyu inclusive.

Intermediate Category refers to all categories consisting of competitors from 7th

to 4th Kyu inclusive.

Senior Category refers to categories consisting of competitors from grades 3rd Kyu and above.

Competitors must compete in the category of their highest belt ever earned in karate. If a competitor is a higher belt in one form of karate and a white belt in another, they must compete in the higher-level category. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of that club. They will be ineligible to win the cup.


At  3rd   Kyu  and above,  students should  have developed the  control required to practice karate techniques in a more controlled manner, which minimises the risk of injury.

Note: These categories are subject to change based on numbers on the day.

Contribution of Referees from Colleges

All colleges with students taking part in this competition (other than in exceptional circumstances) must contribute at least one experienced referee to the referee panel to ensure that there is a sufficient number of referees to run an efficient competition and  also to ensure that there is a broad representation from across the different colleges in relation to decision making. If there is difficulty with providing such a person, this should be discussed with the UCD Organising Committee  in advance. The UCD Organising Committee can    be contacted at    the email address:

Referee, Coach and Captain Briefing Meeting

A briefing meeting will be held on the morning of the competition. This meeting will be led by the Chief Referee (Competition) (from the host college) who will brief the referees, coaches and club captains on the format of the competition. At this meeting, any positions that may not be contained within this document can be discussed. It is important that all colleges are represented at this meeting.


  • Coaches may appeal, protest or ask questions only of the arbiter and of no other official.
  • Coaches may not interfere with the refeeres conducting of the match or the progress of the tournament.

Presentation of Competitors


  • Contestants shall wear a clean white karate-gi. A plain and clean white t-shirt may be work under the karate-gi.
  • In  kumite  matches and  kata events that  use the flag system  of scoring, one of the contestants  shall, for identification purposes, fasten  a red or white ribbon around their own grade belt.
  • Contestants   shall keep their   finger and toe-nails   short and their hair   secured appropriately, so as to prevent injury to self or others.
  • No jewellery of any sort is permitted.
  • No footwear or socks can be worn on the tatami (competition area).
  • Competitors are not permitted to wear bandages or supports, except with the prior approval of the referee.
  • Metallic braces  must be approved  by the referee and  will be used at the contestant’s own risk.
  • Spectacles are not permitted in kumite.  Soft contact lenses may be worn, at the competitor’s own risk.

Protective Equipment

  • Mitts are MANDATORY for kumite competition.
  • A gum-shield is MANDATORY for kumite competition. Should a contestant attempt to compete without a gum shield, he or she will be disqualified.
  • Groin protectors are highly recommended in men’s kumite. Chest protectors are highly recommended in ladies kumite. Shin and in-step protectors are NOT permitted in kumite.

Powers and Duties

Chief Referee (Competition)

The Chief Referee (Competition) is the highest authority for the entire competition. The Chief Referee holds the final decision regarding the rules to apply in the case of any dispute. The decision of the Chief Referee (Competition) is final.

Chief Referee (Category)

Each competition will have a Chief Referee who:

  • Delegates and appoints any other referees, corner judges and table judges prior to a competition and supervises the performance of these personnel.
  • Conducts matches, including announcing start, suspend and stop points.
  • Awards points.
  • Levies warnings, penalties or other appropriate disciplinary action (for example, dismissal or suspension of a contestant or team from a match).
  • Calls for a decision (Hantei).
  • Obtains and acts upon the opinion(s) of the  other referees / judges, where they deem this appropriate.
  • Announces the decision(s) of the panel of referees / judges.
  • Announces the result of a competition.
  • Brings to appropriate notice any injury or illness of a competitor.
  • Can stop a competition and replace any of the officials with a substitute.
  • Is  responsible  for seeing that  the match is conducted  according to the Contest Rules.
  • Provides support to a referee who requires assistance with decisions.
  •  Has authority over the competition area, as well as the immediate perimeter.

Kumite Referee(s)

The Kumite Referee:

  • Assists the Chief Referee for the particular category they are involved in.
  • Indicates when they believe a point should be awarded. 
  • Indicates when they believe a warning or penalty should be levied.
  • Indicates their decision when requested for same by the Chief Referee.
  • Explains  to the Chief  Referee, when required,  the grounds on which they  have made their decision.
  • Seeks  support  from the  Chief Referee  should they require  assistance with a decision.
  • Brings  to appropriate  notice any injury  or illness of a competitor,  should they notice the same before the Chief Referee.

Kata Judge(s)

 The Kata Judge:

  • Assists the Chief Referee for the particular category they are involved in.
  • Signals their judgement by means of a flag, whistle or both.
  • Explains  to the Chief  Referee, when required,  the grounds on which they  have made their decision.
  • Seeks  support  from the  Chief Referee  should they require  assistance with a decision.
  • Brings  to appropriate  notice any injury  or illness of a competitor,  should they notice the same before the Chief Referee.

Over-all Scoring System for awarding of the Cup

Points System for Awarding of the Cup and Title 

The intention of the competition is to promote varsity level karate and encourage participation of clubs of all sizes. As such the award system is structured to award the best overall team, rather than the largest contingent.

Each competing varsity team will be awarded points for their top seven medal placements. Scoring 5 points for Gold, 3 points for Silver and 1 point for Bronze medals. Team events will be scored for the institution not the individual. The team with the top overall score will be awarded the All Ireland Karate Intervarsities title and trophy.

In the Case of a draw

Should two or more teams score the same number of points under the above system, the outcome will be decided by awarding points for the tied teams top eight medal placements.

If teams are still tied the outcome will be decided by awarding points for the tied teams top nine medal placements.

Should there still be a draw for first place after these re-counts, the captain of each team may nominate a champion from their team to compete in a sudden death kumite match under the 1 Point Match or Ippon Shobu rules. The winner of this match will be awarded 5 points on behalf of their team. Thus, breaking the tie.

Awarding of the Cup and Title and Organization of the Following Year’s Event

Once all the events have been completed, the points will be calculated based on the specified scoring system outlined above. The winning team will be awarded the trophy and title by the Master Judge and Director of Operations.

The winning team is responsible for ensuring that their win is engraved on the trophy prior to the following year’s competition.

The winning team is the host of the following year’s competition as a general rule, however this is at the winning team’s discretion and they may reserve the right to offer the competition hosting duties to another University or College.

A secondary prize is to be given to the club with the highest score while also having fewer than 5 people in attendance. Scoring will be as described above.

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