Rules of Karate | How it is Played?

Karate is one of the most popular and interesting sports in Asia. Originated in Okinawa, the history of Karate dates back to the 1300s. The game was brought to the mainland Japan in the beginning of 20th century and since then it has become one of the popular martial arts played in different styles including Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Kyokushinkai and Wado-Ryu.

Rules of Karate

One of the impressive things about this game is it reflects the importance of internal strength and perseverance, unlike other similar sports in which physical strength holds cardinal importance. You can’t predict the outcome of the game by simply looking at the physiques of both players. It involves the use of punches, kicks, knee and elbow strikes but in accordance to the laws of the sport.

Object of Playing Karate

The object of the game is to defeat your opponent by scoring more points. You can score points by throwing kicks and punches on your opponents. At the end of the game, the player with the most points is declared winner. Another way to win in Karate if a player gets a lead of 8 points over his opponent then he is declared winner before the end of time duration.

How to Play?

Karate is played between two players who punch and kick each other in the permitted parts of the body to score points. Each Karate match has some time duration and the more punches and kicks the players hit to each other in this duration, the more points they get.

But of course, there are some rules which dictate which part of the body players can hit and what number of points a player gets for hitting which part of the body. To learn all the required rules to start playing karate, make sure you read the article till the end.

General Rules of Karate

  • The fight begins when the referee shouts “SHOBU HAJIME!”.
  • There are three ways to score points: Punches, Kicks and Throws In Karate’s terms, they are called Yuko, Waza-ari and Ippon and are one, two and three points respectively.
  • When a scoring technique has been used by a player, the referee should YAME towards the contestants and judges.
  • A player can score by hitting in the following areas of the opponent’s head, face, neck, chest, abdomen, side and back.
  • The fight stops and judges signals if they agree on the point or not, then the match restarts again.
  • If a player takes an 8-point lead during the bout, he is declared the winner even before the end of duration.
  • If no player manages to take lead of 8, then the player with most points in the end is declared winner.
  • And if the points are also the same, then the referees and judges choose the winner.
  • If during the fight a player is knocked down and declared unfit to carry the match, the match is immediately stopped and the opponent is chosen as the winner.

Time Duration of Karate

The game of Karate is played in one bout and the player who scores the most points during this time period is deemed winner or if a player gets a 8-point lead during the game he is declared winner even before the bout has finished. There are no specifications regarding the bout time and it may vary from tournament to tournament.

Karate Playing Equipments

The sport of karate is played in traditional karate suits worn by both competitors. A player can use the following protective equipment during a karate game.

  • A gum shield
  • Body protection
  • Shin pads
  • Foot protectors

Karate Playing Field

The game of karate takes place on a matted square of 8m x 8m with an additional 1m on all sides, known as the safety area.

Scoring in Karate

Scoring in karate is usually unambiguous. Here are some of the scoring methods in Karate terms.

For every Ippon, three points are awarded to the player.

  • A jodan kick (kick to upper level)
  • Any scoring technique performed on a fallen or thrown opponent.

For Waza-ari, two points are awarded.

  • Chudan (mid level) kicks

Every Yuko adds a point to the player’s score.

  • Chudan or Jodan Tsuki (mid or upper level punch)
  • Jodan or Chudan Uchi (mid or upper level punch).

Referee & Judges

A referee stands in the middle while 4 judges sit on each corner to examine the game. Referee’s role is to maintain order in the game while judges note down marks.

Penalty in Karate

You receive a warning on your first infringement, but if you continue to break rules, you can be disqualified from the game after 4 warnings. These warnings are consequences of common infringements like hitting the player in non-permissible areas to gain unfair advantage or wrestling instead of karate.

Famous Karate Tournaments

The World Karate Championship takes place every year and Karate is also part of olympics. Moreover, Karate is also part of national indoor and outdoor sports held in different countries.

Famous Karate Awards

Karate awards are given at local levels but there is no karate award yet that is yearly given at international level.

Governing Body

The World Karate Federation (WKF) is the governing body that caters the sport at international level with 191 member countries. The organisation was formed in 1990 and organizes junior and senior karate world championships every year to promote and grow the game.