Tokyo 2020 Karate - Overview

Tokyo2020 Olympics Karate

The Summer Olympic games in Tokyo will be known for five new disciplines – baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing, and surfing.

Karate, a discipline that originally comes from Japan, will become the Olympic discipline in its country of origin. There are many various karate techniques. When it comes to its rules, there are different sets of regulations for competitions and techniques. 

Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan

Karate will take place in Nippon Budokan, an indoor arena located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The arena has the capacity of 12,000 spectators. It is built originally for Judo for the Olympic Games in 1964 and translated into English, it means Martial Arts Hall. The competition will take place in two categories – kumite (fights) and kata. 

Modalities of the sport of karate

The sport of karate has two modalities – kumite and kata. The two modalities are practiced both by men and women. 

  1. The kumite modality consists of direct confrontation of two practitioners using attack and defense techniques.
  2. The kata modality consists of the execution of the attack and defense techniques against the imaginary rival. 
The kata modality is also executed in adapted categories:
  • Blinded visually impaired;
  • Wheelchair user;
  • Learning disabilities.

Rules and regulations

Competition karate is performed on the surfaces which surface is 8x8 meters. There are safe areas, 2 meters on all four sides. 

Competition karate is regulated by referee and judges. In the kumite modality, there is one referee and four judges. In the kata modality, there are five judges.

Competition kumite may be held as individual trials or team trials. Individual trials are divided into few categories. Categories are divided by weight. In the team trials, teams are made of five competitors in male trials and three competitors in female trials. In these trials, the competitors of each team confront each other. The winner is the team which obtains more victories.

Competition kata may also be held as individual trials or team trials. Teams are made of three competitors, both in male and in female trials. The team kata trials have two parts in the medal achievement phase. The first consists of the synchronized execution of the kata by the three team members. The second part, termed bunkai, consists of the practical application of the kata, executed by the team members. 

The most important championship in the world of karate is the World Championship. It is held every two years and the best competitors of the each country participate. Karate1 Premier League is the competition composed of the seven annual tournaments and is held in several countries. Karate is included in the program of the Principal International multi-sport competition, including those which form the part of the Olympic cycle.

Kata rules

​Source: World Karate Federation

Here are the elements of evaluation in the kata test:

  • Conformity – it is looked whether the movement is with standards in form and style (Ryu-Ha);
  • Technical performance – techniques, stances, transitional movements, timing/synchronization;
  • Technical performance – correct breathing, focus (kime), technical difficulty;
  • Athletic performance – strength, speed, balance, rhythm;​

There are the following fouls in kata:

  • ​​Minor loss of balance;
  • Performing a movement in an incorrect or incomplete manner;
  • Asynchronous movement;
  • Use of audible cues;
  • Belt coming loose;
  • Time wasting;
  • Causing injury in the execution of bunkai.

Kumite rules

Source: World Karate Federation 

In the kumite, you can earn one, two, or three points.

  • A punch to the head or body is called yuko and it is counted as one point. 
  • A kick to the body is called waza-ari and it is counted as two points.
  • A kick to the head is called ippon and it is counted as three points.
  • If you trip your opponent and perform a punch strike while your opponent is on the ground at the end of your attack, it is also called ippon and it is counted as three points.

Kumite penalties

Full contact is strictly prohibited. Body kicks and punches can be stronger, but if you punch or kick to the head, you must touch your opponent.

  • If you punch your opponent hard to the face, this is category 1 penalty, you will get a yellow card.
  • If you kick your opponent hard to the face, this is also category 1 penalty, you will also get a yellow card. 
  • If you kick your opponent to the groin, this is also category 1 penalty, and you will get a yellow card. 
  • If your foot is off the mat, this is category 2 penalty, you will get a yellow card. 
  • If you avoid fighting, this is also category 2 penalty, you will get a yellow card. 
  • Four yellow cards mean disqualification.


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