[Competition venue: Nippon Budokan]

  • Overview

    From the rules and regulations from World Karate Federation (WKF).
    • Kumite (or Sparring) Competition

    The individual tournament for the Kumite competition at the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate World Championships is held under a weight class system comprising five divisions for both men and women.
    Weight classes for men: −60 kg, −67 kg, −75 kg, −84 kg, and +84 kg
    Weight classes for women: −50 kg, −55 kg, −61 kg, −68 kg, and +68 kg
    Tokyo 2020 Games: 6 events (3 weight classes –W/M)

    • Kata (or Form) Competition

    Competitors choose which kata they will demonstrate from approximately 75 types designated by the WKF. At the tournament, competitors are required to demonstrate a different kata for each match, including the final.
    Tokyo 2020 Games: 2 events (individual –W/M)

    Key Points

    • Kumite Competition

    Competitors send tsuki, or punches, and keri, or kicks, with explosive force at the prescribed regions of their opponent's body. However, a tsuki or keri never actually hits the opponent because competitors perform every tsuki and keri with absolute control, enabling them to stop the motion just before coming into contact with their opponent. Competitors switch between attacking and defending so instantaneously that only very observant spectators are able to discern which competitor has succeeded in completing a tsuki or keri.

    The Kumite competition will be divided into three weight categories (light, middle, and heavy) at the Tokyo 2020 Games while it used to be five weight categories in the world championship. How to divide the weight categories at the Tokyo 2020 Games are a big matter of concern at the moment.

    There are four ways of determining victory or defeat: (1) a lead of eight points scored determines the scorer as the winner; (2) withdrawal from the match rule violation, or disqualification by one competitor determines the other as the winner; (3) an advantage in points scored by the end of the match determines the scorer as the winner; or (4) in the case of a tied score at the end of the match, a decision by the judges determines the winner.

    • Kata Competition

    Competitors are judged on the speed and power of their tsuki and keri, and are also required to show their understanding of the meaning, or principle, carried by the kata they demonstrate. Kata demonstrations performed with precise rhythm, balance, and kime, or focus, are utterly fascinating.

    Japan has won gold medals in both male and female categories at the WKF World Senior Championships 2016 in Linz, Austria. Karate will be one of the powerful medal candidate sports at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Under conventional competition rules, the outcome of the competition is determined by five judges.

    Under conventional competition rules, one competitor is assigned a blue belt and the other a red belt, and each take turns demonstrating his or her kata. The outcome of the competition is determined under a flag system, where five judges who each have a blue flag and a red flag raise either to signal which competitor, they believe, won: the one with more flags raised in his or her favour is declared the winner. However, to provide more clarity regarding the judges' views, discussions on applying a scoring system where victory or defeat is determined by adding up the points that each judge gave each competitor are being held for the Tokyo 2020 Games.


    Karate originated in the Ryukyu Islands that make up Japan's present-day Okinawa Prefecture. This martial art developed by combining te (lit. hand(s)) - an indigenous combat art that was practiced in Okinawa from ancient times - with another martial art called kenpō that came from China.

    Karate was established for the purpose of protecting oneself with one's bare hands. Therefore, karateka use their whole body and employ techniques such as uke to block the attacker's strike, tsuki to thrust punches, uchi to strike with the ridge-hand, elbow, wrist, or palm, and nage to throw the attacker to the ground.

    The basic philosophy of karate is that “karate is ultimately for self-defence.” This is reflected in karate's unique teaching of “never strike first,” by which practitioners guide themselves.

    Karate began to spread across Okinawa and develop from around 1900, and was taught in physical education classes both in junior high schools and shihan (lit. master instructor) schools.

    1963: Japan Karatedo Federation (JFK) has established concurrently with the Tokyo 1964 Games.
    1970: JKF has become a member of the World Karate Federation, formerly known as the World Union of Karate Do Organizations (WUKO). The first WUKO World Championships were held in Tokyo.
    1981: The Karate made its debut at the Japan National Sports Festival held in Shiga, Japan.
    1994: The Karate made its debut at the 12th Asian Games Hiroshima, Japan.
    1999: WKF has been approved as an International Federation representing Karate by IOC.

    * Courtesy of The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (as of September 2016)


    (IOC Announcement, June9, 2017)

    Kata Kata Kata
    Kumite 3 weight categories TBC 3 weight categories TBC