Tournament Rules - Semi Contact (Clicker)

The purpose of the semi-contact tournament is to provide the students of karate an opportunity to test their technical skill, fighting spirit and determination. These rules are designed to give the students the maximum possibility to test their techniques in combat, with the minimum risk of causing or sustaining serious injury. The contestants must at all times show the utmost respect for their opponents and all officials of the tournament.

Article 1 General Rules

1. The minimum age for contestants is 5 years. The maximum age will be left to the discretion of the Tournament Doctor, who if necessary, will examine all contestants before the elimination bouts begin.

Kumite: Male and female

a. The divisions for children are:

- 5 years, 6 years, 7 years, 8 years, 9 years, 10 years, (one division per age    group)
- 11/12 years  - two weight divisions per age group
- 13/14 years  - two weight divisions per age group

b. The divisions for cadets are:

- 15 years - two weight divisions per age group
- 16 years - two weight divisions per age group
- 17 years - two weight divisions per age group

c. The divisions for juniors are:

- 18/19/20 years - four weight divisions group

d. The division for seniors is:

- Older than 21 years: -50, -60, -70, -80, +80kg

2. Each contestant must have at least 8th kyu or have practised karate for at least six months.

3. Neither the Karate Association of South Africa or any tournament official will in any way be responsible for any injury or accident that may occur during the Tournament. If insurance against injury is required, it is the responsibility of the individual contestant to secure and make his own arrangement in that regard.

Article 2: Uniform

A.  Referees

1. Referees and judges must wear the official uniform designated by the referee council.   This uniform must be worn at all tournaments and courses.

2. The official uniform will be worn as follows:

A black blazer
A white shirt (long or short sleeved)
An official tie
Plain light grey trousers/skirts
Plain dark blue or black socks.

B.  Contestants

1. The contestants will wear white Karate Gi 's that are clean and in good condition. Style badges may be worn at provincial events. At national events only provincial badges may be worn.

2. One contestant will wear a white belt and one will wear a red belt.

3. Groin protection is compulsory for male contestants and gum shields are recommended. Breast protection is recommended for female contestants of 13 years or older. Shin and instep protection may be worn. In the event of an injury to a contestant, the wearing of bandages or other protective materials will be at the discretion of the Chief Referee in consultation with the Tournament Doctor. Their decision is binding.

4. Finger and toenails must be clean and cut short. No jewellery or other objects may be worn.

4. Spectacles may not be worn. Contact lenses may be worn at the contestant's own risk and responsibility.

5. The wearing of other unauthorised clothing or equipment is forbidden and may result in the disqualification of the contestant.

C. Coaches

1. The coach shall at all times during the tournament, wear dress which displays official identification.


I. Gum shields must fit properly. Groin protectors using a removable plastic cup slipped into a jockstrap are not permitted and persons wearing them will be held at fault.

II. There may well be a religious basis for the wearing of certain items such as turbans or amulets. Persons wishing, by virtue of their religion, to wear what would otherwise be construed as unauthorized clothing must notify the Referee Council in advance of a tournament. The Referee Council will examine each application on its merit. No accommodation will be made for people who just turn up on the day and expect to participate.

III. If a contestant comes into the area inappropriately dressed, he or she will not be immediately disqualified; instead the fighter will be given one minute to remedy matters.

Article 3: Match Area

1.  The fighting area should be a minimum of 6 metres square up to a maximum of 8 metres square.

2. There should be a 1 metre neutral zone surrounding the fighting area.

3. The marking out of the officials and match areas shall be as per Appendix 3.

4. Where possible, the fighting area should be covered with Tatami. The neutral zone should be of another colour than that of the fighting area, or clearly indicated in some other manner.

Article 4: Officials

1. Each fighting area shall have the following officials:

* Ring controller
* Timekeeper
* Referee
* Three judges

2.  In a decision upon the outcome of a contest, judge shall have one vote.

Article 5: Duration of a match

1. Each preliminary match shall last for one, one and half minute round. In the event of a draw, one, one half-minute extension will be allowed. At the end of this period the judges will make a positive decision.

2.  The timing of the match begins when the referee gives a signal to start, and stops each time the referee calls "Yame" or "Stop". The timing shall resume when the referee signals a continuation of the bout.

3. The timekeeper shall give signals by a clearly audible gong, or buzzer indicating that time is up. Simultaneously, a beanbag will be thrown into the fighting area to signal the end of the match. The contestants are to stop fighting on the signal of the referee only.

4. A technique delivered at the same time that the end of the round or match is signalled, is considered valid. An attack, even if effective, delivered after an order to suspend or stop the bout shall not be scored and may result in a penalty  being imposed on the offender.

5.  No technique will be scored if it is delivered when one contestant is outside the fighting and neutral zone. If both fighters are in the neutral zone and the referee has not called "yame" or "Stop", all techniques will be scored as normal.

Article 6: Organisation of Competitions

1. A karate tournament may comprise kumite (fighting) competition and/or kata (forms) competition. The kumite competition may be further divided into the team match and the individual match. The individual match may be further divided into weight divisions. Weight divisions are divided ultimately into bouts. The term  "bout" also describes the individual kumite competitions between opposing pairs of team members.

2. In team matches, each team must have an odd number of contestants. The number of contestants can be divided by the agreement of the organisers.

3. The contestants are all members of the team. There are no fixed reserves.

4. Before each match, a team representative must hand onto the official table, an official form defining the name and fighting order of the team members. The fighting order can be changed for each round but once notified, it cannot be changed.

5. A team will be disqualified if any of its members or its coach changes the team's composition without submitting the written fighting order. Use of a reserve constitutes a change in fighting order.

6. In a team match, a team will be allowed to participate, only when it comprises more than half the prescribed number of members.

7.  No contestant may replace another in an individual title match.

8.  Individual contestants or teams that do not arrive at the competition venue before the tournament is declared open may be disqualified from participation in that tournament.

9.  Individual contestants or teams that have applied for participation who fails to attend a match without good reason or without notifying the match-conducting authorities, quit the match and leave, a disciplinary measure to be applied will be decided upon by the referee council following a recommendation from the chief referee.

10. A "round" is a stage in a competition leading to the eventual identification of the finalists. In an elimination competition, a round eliminates fifty percent of the contestants within it, counting byes as contests. In this context, the round can apply equally to a stage in either primary elimination or repechage.

11.  The use of contestant's names can cause problems of pronunciation and identification, it is therefore recommended that tournament numbers be allotted and used.

12. If, through a error in charting, the wrong contestants compete, then regardless of the outcome, the match is declared null and void.

Article 7: Criteria for a decision

1. Procedure:

The judges will award points as they are seen, by using hand held recorders (clickers). It is recommended that these clickers should be clearly marked – i.e. left hand clicker white, right hand clicker red.

On completion of the bout, the referee will call "Hantai Onegai Shimasu" or "Judges, decision", at which time the judges will immediately indicate the contestant with the higher score, by holding out the appropriate clicker with the arm parallel to the ground. In the event of a draw, both clickers to be held with the arms crossed in front and pointing downward. It is further recommended that judges look downward when indicating their decision.

The referee will note the decision of the judges and then award the bout as either a win or a draw. A win can only be awarded if two or more of the officials award the bout one way.

A situation may arise where one judge awards the bout to “white“, the second judge to “red“ and the third judge declares the bout a draw. The referee will be obliged to declare the bout a draw and signal an extension bout with a time restriction as described in Article 5.

2.  Scoring:

A fighter can win either by points or by decision.

(a) Three points will be awarded for any kick to the head. The bout will be stopped and the points awarded. In the event of a judge not seeing the technique in question he/she should not award three points and clearly indicate that the technique was not seen by crossing his/her hands before the eyes (palms facing).

Three points may only be awarded if at least two judges concurs that it was a valid scoring head kick. If  at least two judges did not concur, no judge may award three points for the technique in question.

(b) One point will be awarded for any kick to the body.

(c) One point will be awarded for any punching technique to the body. Maximums of three punches are permitted, where after a competitor must break or do a kicking technique. In the event of a contestant attacking with more than three punches without breaking, any punches after the third will not be scored.

(d) A score is awarded when a technique is performed according to the following criteria to a scoring area:
a) Good form
b) Sporting attitude
c) Vigorous application
d) Awareness (ZANSHIN)
e) Good timing
f) Correct distance

(e) The fighter who has scored the most points by the end of the bout will be declared the winner.

3. Superiority:

(a) Should it become apparent that a competitor is being completely dominated by a superior opponent, the referee may after consultation with the judges and on advice of the judges, stop the bout and award a win to the superior competitor. The result being announced as "win by superiority".

(b) In the event that both fighters have the same amount of points at the end of the extension (encho-sen), the fight will be awarded on the basis of relative spirit and technical excellence of the participants.


I. A technique with “Good Form” is said to have characteristics conferring probable effectiveness within the framework of traditional Karate concepts.

II. 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.

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

IV. Awareness (ZANSHIN) is that criterion most often missed when a score is assessed. It is the state of continued commitment in which the contestant maintains total concentration, observation, and awareness of the opponent's potentiality to counter-attack. He does not turn his face away during delivery of the technique, and remains facing the opponent afterwards.

Article 8: Target Area

A. The following are the legitimate targets for punches:-

- The chest  (males only)
- Abdomen

B. The following are the legitimate targets for kicks:-

- Head
- Chest  (males only)
- Abdomen
- Ribs

Article 9: Prohibited Acts and Techniques

The following matters may merit disqualification at the entire and absolute discretion of the referee of the contest (after consultation with the judges). The contestant disqualified may give notice through his coach to the contest arbitrator, of his wish to appeal to the Chief Referee who, after consultation with the referee and match officials, may reinstate the disqualified contestant or endorse and confirm the match referee's decision. The Tournament Chief Referee's decision is final.

A. The following techniques are forbidden and shall be punished in accordance with their severity:

* Attacks to the opponent's head, face, throat, neck or back with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm
* Kicks to the groin.
* Kicks to the legs or any part of the knee joint.
* Knee kicks and axe kicks
* Head thrusts or butts
* Striking the breast (females).
* Elbow strikes to any part of the opponent's back.
* Throwing and sweeping techniques are not allowed.
* Striking or kicking an opponent who has fallen.
* Any other techniques or practises, deemed by the match referee as improper or unfair.

Any technique delivered to any legitimate target area which clearly stuns or hurts the opponent will be deemed as excessive and will be addressed through provisions in Article 10 (Penalties).

B. The following behaviour is forbidden and shall be punished in accordance with its severity:

* Failing to obey the referee's instructions during a match.
* Frequently leaving the fighting area (Jogai).
* Deliberately wasting time.
* Discourteous behaviour.
* Persistent bad behaviour or violence.
* Hair pulling, biting, gouging, etc.
* Grabbing without following immediately with a technique.

C. Contestants who arrive late for bouts or who fail to appear* can merit automatic disqualification. In this instance the contestant is disqualified from the clicker competition and may not partake in any further activities in the clicker competition.

* (The contestant will be called a maximum three times, with a 30 seconds between each call and 1 minute after the last call.)

 Article 10: Penalties

Chui (Official Warning) : Each time a competitor is penalised with an official warning the opponent is automatically awarded one point.

Genten Ichi (1st Penalty) : Genten Ichi  is equivalent to two Chuis. A competitor is penalised with a Genten warning for serious infringements of the rules, and the opponent is automatically awarded two points.

Genten Ni (2nd Penalty) : Genten Ni is the equivalent of three Chuis or Genten Ichi and one Chui. A competitor is penalised with a Genten warning
for serious infringements of the rules, and the opponent is automatically awarded two points.

Jogai Chui   : Each time a competitor is penalised with an official Jogai warning, the opponent is automatically awarded one point.

Warnings and penalties are as follows:

Warning private warning
Chui Ichi 1st official warning
Chui Ni 2nd Official warning and constitutes Genten Ichi (1st public warning)
Chui San 3rd Official warning and constitutes Genten Ni (2nd Public Warning)
Shikkaku  Genten Ni constitutes a Shikkaku (disqualification)

NB. A contestant cannot be saved from disqualification by the act of the injured/fouled opponent “throwing in the towel”. In such a case, the injured/fouled contestant automatically withdraws  from any further participation in the tournament and the perpetrator is disqualified from the bout.

An example of the different levels of warning is as follows:

(a) Any deliberate attack to the opponent's head, face, throat, neck or back with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which shakes the opponent or worse shall merit an automatic disqualification (Shikkaku) of the opponent.

(b) Any deliberate attack to the opponent's head, face, throat, neck or back with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which clearly hurts the opponent shall normally merit an automatic penalty (Genten). It is assumed that the competitor receiving the attack will be able to continue the bout.

(c) Any accidental contact to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which shakes the opponent or worse shall normally merit an automatic penalty (Genten).

(d) Any accidental contact to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which clearly hurts the opponent shall normally merit an automatic official warning (Chui).


Jogai relates to a situation where a contestant's foot move outside of the fighting area. An exception is when the contestant is actually propelled from the area by his opponent. (The rule is devised to prevent contestants from deliberately stepping out of the area in order to avoid an opponents attack. It also applies to competitors who passively allow themselves to be propelled out of the area.)
(NB. Jogai warnings do not cross accumulate with other warnings.)


I. “which shakes the opponent or worse” – the competitor receiving the attack is severely  hurt, seriously disadvantaging him/her or the competitor is not able to continue the bout.

II. “which clearly hurts” – the competitor receiving the attack is hurt, but not seriously disadvantaged.

IV. If a competitor is deemed unfit to continue a bout due to the receiving and an illegal technique, the offender will be disqualified and the opponent will be awarded the bout. However the winner of the bout will not be allowed any further participation the clicker fighting bouts.

If the competitor is deemed unfit to complete a particular match, but deemed fit to continue after being rested for a short period, the competitor may continue in the next round of bouts. The offender will however still be disqualified.

A fighter may only be deemed fit to participate or not by the medical staff present at the competition.

Article 11: Power and Duties

A. Chief Referee's powers and duties shall be as follows:

1. To ensure the correct preparation for each given tournament in consultation with the tournament organising committee, with reference to competition area arrangement, the provision and deployment of all equipment and necessary facilities, match operation and supervision, safety precautions, etc.

2. To decide in advance, the allocation and appointment of ring controllers, referees and judge(s) and to arrange for the operation of a referee commission to oversee the performance of the refereeing officials.

3. To nominate substitution officials where required. The composition of a panel of officials may not be changed at the sole discretion of the ring controller, referee or judge(s).

4. To pass the final judgement on matters of a technical nature which may arise during a given match and for which there are no stipulations in the rules.

B. Referees’ (Shushin) powers shall be the following:

1. The referee (Shushin) shall have the power to conduct matches, including the start, the suspension and the end of a match. He/she has the power to:

* impose penalties and to issue warnings in consultation with (and not without) the judges, before, after or during a match.

* terminate a match (after consultation with the judges) if one competitor is clearly inferior to the other and in risk of serious injury.

* explain, if necessary, the basis for giving a judgement.

* announce extensions.

2. The authority of the referee is not confined solely to the competition area, but also to all of its immediate perimeter.

3. When explaining the basis for a judgement, the referee may speak to the arbitrator, Chief Referee or referee committee. The referee shall explain to no one else.

C. Judges’ powers shall be as follows:

1. * To score points as it is scored by competitors

    * To take part in a consultation with the referee and ring controller

* The judge must only score what he/she actually sees. When signalling a difference, the judge should use signals, which may be clearly seen, yet which are not overly obtrusive. The object is to inform the referee of an opinion - not to seek to impose it.

* To exercise a right to vote on a decision to be taken.

2. The judge shall speak only if summoned by the referee.

3. The judge shall carefully observe the actions of the contestants and signal to the referee an opinion in the following cases:

* When a Three point score is observed. In the event of the referee not seeing a three point score, the judge will alert the referee to this fact after which the referee will consult with the other judges to confirm that at least two judges concurs on the matter.

* When a contestant appears about to commit, or has committed a prohibited act and/or techniques.

* When an injury or illness of a contestant is noted.

* When one or both of the contestants have moved out of the competition area.

* In other cases when it is deemed necessary to call the attention of the referee.

D. The ring controllers’ powers shall be as follows:

1. A ring controller shall be appointed for each fighting area. He/she shall oversee the activities of the match officials, to ensure fairness and smooth running of all matches. The ring controller shall assist the referee in decision making as required.

2. The ring controller can request the referee to halt a match if there has been an infraction of the rules, or if an administrator wishes the referee to halt the bout, he/she will blow his/her whistle.

3. The power of the arbitrator will include supervision and direction of the timekeeper.

E. The following general points must be noted:

1.  The appointed arbitrators, referees and judges may not occupy other positions during the tournament.

2. All consultations between the referee panel must be kept as brief as possible. Whenever possible, discussions should be strenuously avoided and reliance placed upon the prescribed gestures as given in Appendix 4, to communicate views.

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Updated by Hoosain Narker